Awakening of the Wyrms – The Pieces are Moving
The next spring, King Elessar sends out a Gondorian expeditionary force to besiege Gundabad. The army marches to Edoras and unites with the forces of Rohan. It will then split into two forces which will also use the Palantiri to coordinate their attempt on the mountain realm.
The western army, led by Elessar himself, contains 2000 Infantry, 1000 cavalry and siege engineers. Over the next two months they march to Fornost. They are joined by 200 Hobbit archers and 100 spearmen from Breeland. The Shire and Breelanders provide and guard a sizeable supply train. The army is also joined by 400 Dwarfs from the Blue Mountains and an Arthedan force of some 200 who are released from garrison duty. The first stage of this massive logistical undertaking is complete. Now the troops move north-east from Fornost across the Oiolad plain towards Angmar of old. Near the ruin of Eldanar castle, formerly a boundary of Arnor, they are met by Elladan and Elrohir and 50 light cavalry from Imladris. This welcome addition completes the Army of Eriador.
To the east in the Anduin valley, a force of 1000 infantry and 500 horse of Gondorians and Rohirrim are led by Éomer of the Mark. After a long march up the river valley, they finally reach the fortified village of Maethelburg on the Anduin, some 50 miles north of the Carrock. They are met here by small Woodmen and Beorning contingents. The Woodmen have sent 100 leather clad longbow-men. The Beorning axe-men number barely 60 as many of their warriors guard the High Pass and Forest Road. However those that join Éomer are all big men and are led by several of their hulking clan chieftains. Celeborn of Lorien sends only a small company of archers. The bulk of his forces are clearing the Redhorn and Gladden passes to keep lines of communication to the west open.
Many leagues to the north-east a contingent of 500 men from Dale & Laketown and a similar number of well armoured Dwarfs of Erebor are hiking through the narrows above Eryn Lasgalen (The Wood of Greenleaves, formerly Mirkwood). The Dwarfs are led by Thorin III Stonehelm, who grudgingly meets Thranduil, leading 1000 Elves, at the Mithlin ford. The large tripartite force marches westward beneath the shadowy heights. They aim to link up with the southerners near Gundabad to form the Army of the Anduin.
Aelindur reaches Gundabad a few weeks ahead of the converging armies. With her son’s help and an Orcish glamour, she ingratiates herself with the Orc kingdom. After much intrigue, she slays the ancient High Priest of Darkness and steals the withered Orc’s vampire cloak. Entering the tomb of Skorg, Aelindur subdues his Wight, breaks open the tomb and survives handling the Ulûkai of Morgoth. Possessing the gem, Aelindur’s sorcery is vastly magnified. She escapes Gundabad and on the flanks of the mountain unravels the relic’s power. The summons of Morgoth awakes the Dragons who rise from their golden beds and prowl restlessly. All across North-West Endor evil beings are reinvigorated. Aelindur takes the form of a huge bat and flies east towards her team at the Wind Thrones.
The Wise are alerted to the use of powerful dark magic but are unsure what is being done. A new Guardian of the West is appointed by the Valar. Imbued with purpose by the rise of the Shadow Queen, Radagast takes up his new mantle and journeys to meet King Elessar.
The two allied armies have been sweeping through the lands of Angmar and the Upper Anduin. Old fortresses and Orc holds are rousted and collapsed. Both forces approach Mount Gundabad in a pincer movement. The Army of Eriador crosses eastern Angmar towards the northern passes. The Army of the Anduin, still in two parts, moves onto the Southern and Eastern Gundalok Plateau.
Further to the east, Aelindur flies cautiously up into the Grey Mountains. The Shadow Queen arrives at Uthrael Beoac and joins her daughter’s camp. The coven of dark Mages activate the Wind Thrones. Using the Palantir, Aelindur and her sorcerous cohorts successfully manipulate the Dragon repulsion ward. The lens-like field over the valley is transposed some 40 leagues to the east, over the Withered Heath.
The Dragons recognise the fell will of their creator behind the compulsion. This is the Ulûkai of Morgoth tainting and enhancing Aelindur’s sorcery. Days of intense scrying and concentration are needed to sweep Dragons south and west out of the Withered Heath. Despite Morgoth’s Gem and the repulsion ward, the Mage still has to personally magically compel several Dragons to leave their lairs. The specific effort taxes Aelindur greatly. Once they are on the move, the ward is used to repeatedly push groups of Wyrms out of the Ered Mithrin to varying effect. Some of the Drakes fight each other, others are left behind or fall to the edges and move south into the Barding Reach, the Iron Hills and Eryn Lasgalen. Wild storms wrack the Grey Mountains as the Wind Thrones are so abused.
At this point Elessar, leading the Army of Eregion, is well past the Angmarean ruins of Litash and can see the storm clouds shrouding the triple peaks of Gundabad a full day’s march away. The King has spoken, via the palantir, with Eomer’s camp and advised the Anduin army to hold back several leagues from the fortress until the western force is through the pass.
The eastern and southern arms of the Army of the Anduin are yet to fully link up. The eastern force of Dwarfs, Bardings and Wood Elves, are somewhat closer to their goal. They draw up a league east of Gundabad’s Drake gate after scouring outlying towers and caves. Elvish and Rohirric riders have been coordinating the tandem movement towards the mountain for the last week. The troops of Gondor, Rohan and Woodmen and are still approaching some three miles off to the south. The Goblins are well aware of the coming assault and have deployed large packs of wolf riders in dead ground and hidden dens on both sides of the mountains, but dare not face the armies in open battle yet. It is now that Aelindor’s spell-craft comes to fruition.
Continued in Part 3