Because we're coming up with a variety of new characters, creatures, and locations, I thought it would be nice to create a little alphabetical compendium of all of the Age of the Ring-canon that we've come up with so far.
It's a work in progress and will be updated over time.
Despite nothing much ever happening in Bree-land, there were the occasional cases of villainy or other disturbances (domestic or otherwise), as in any land occupied by Men. It was for this purpose that the Men of Bree-land maintained a small regiment of voluntary officers known as the Bree-land Townsguard. The Townsguard were made up mostly of the sons of rich farmers or those rich farmers that had retired, for they had to provide their own equipment and did not receive any pay for the days they spent patrolling Bree-land's many country roads and hamlets.
Dunland. Formally known as the hilly land just west of the Misty Mountains, north of the Angren river, the land stretched further south at the end of the Third Age, when the descendants of Freca, an exiled Rohirrim King, still contested the fertile land that lay further south.
Ever since Freca’s time, there have existed two distincts cultures within Dunland: the descendants of the House of Haladin, second house of the Edain, having dwelt there for years beyond counting, and the descendants of Freca and his people, a much younger culture, through whose veins runs the mixed blood of the Dunlendings and the Rohirrim. The latter dwelt mostly in the lands between the two rivers and the White Mountains, a land named Frecalund in their own language, known as the Triangle in Westron. It’s capital was Wulfborg, named after Wulfgar, a prominent Dunlending King during the War of the Ring.
Wulfborg, T.A. 3018.
The last shafts of sunlight fell through the vents at the top of the long hall. Dust danced like a horde of extinguished fireflies. Long banners hung unfurled from the rafters, depicting scenes of victory and defeat, glory and lamentation – the history of Dunland, of Rohan, and of the House of Freca.
At the end of the hall, upon a raised, wood-carved throne inlaid with green gems, sat Wulfgar, King of Freca’s folk and the Dunlendings. Beside him, on a lowered seat, sat his son: Brant, a boy of sixteen.
A sudden creaking and cracking was heard, then the doors of the hall swung open. A guard, bearing the Black Crow on a long, oval shield, hurried through, speaking as he walked.
‘There is an emissary of Orthanc here to see you, my King.’
Wulfgar’s expression grew dark.
‘Send him in.’
The failing light of dusk bathed the hall in silver-grey. A hooded figure, surrounded by several of Wulfgar’s household guard, was escorted in. He was of small stature, with a bent back. He walked slow and steady, but bore no staff.
When he reached the throne, he cast back his hood, revealing a mangled, pointed face. Silence fell over the hall. Several maidens made themselves scarce.
‘Hail Wulfgar Brynjarsson, of the house of Freca,’ the emissary spoke. His voice was cracked and whispery. Then he noticed the boy. ‘And hail to you, Brant Wulfgarsson.’
‘Greetings, half-orc,’ Wulfgar replied. ‘What business have you in Wulfborg? Speak quickly now, for any of my men’s spears could slip from their hands and into your belly. I would not fault them.’
The emissary ignored the threat. ‘I come on behalf of Saruman of Many Colours, Lord of Orthanc, First of the Five Wizards. In his wisdom, he has decided to intervene in the unjust treatment of the Men of Dunland by the strawheads to the east. Many Dunlendings have already joined his cause. Will you give him your allegiance?’
Wulfgar remained silent for a while. Brant looked at the emissary, then at his father, who rolled his eyes, made a vague gesture, and slouched down on his throne.
Brant spoke, to the visible befuddlement of the emissary. ‘We have heard tell of Saruman’s generosity. But we have no wish to go to war. We have achieved a tenuous peace here, south of the Adorn, and reap a plentiful harvest. The Horse-king has not troubled us for several years. Wulfborg prospers.'
Wulfgar clapped in approval. ‘I have taught you well, my son.' Then the king grabbed hold of a jeweled scabbard leaning besides his royal seat, and unsheathed a long, shining sword. 'Now make yourself scarce, mongrel, before I test my newest blade.’
The emissary did not look impressed. ‘Théoden King has grown lethargic, it is true. And so you have been allowed to thrive. But for how much longer?’
Wulfborg, T.A. 3019.
The heart of winter. The cold stalked the streets of Wulfborg. The King was in bed, covered in layers of furs. His wife lay beside him, breathing softly in a pattern so familiar to him. But Wulfgar could not sleep. His gaze was trained upon a particular rafter, floating in a sliver of moonlight, high above. Its rough wood reminded him of something of his childhood. He grasped at the wisp of memory, but it would not settle. He thought about his father, long-dead, and tried to recall the sound of his voice, but found only his own.
Suddenly, horns were sounded. The King leapt from his bed, strapped his sword to his belt, and hurried outside, where he was met by his guards. Horns answered horns – a great racket echoed over the snow-covered fields beyond the walls. Followed by his guard, Wulfgar climbed them in great haste, and was dismayed at what he witnessed. There was a sea of torches, held in hand by great orcs and men dressed in the garb of the wildmen that lived north of the river.
A familiar voice called forth, traveling through and above the crowd with little effort, until it reached the King's ears.
‘Hail Wulfgar Brynyarsson, of the house of Freca,’ it spoke. ‘The war will soon commence. Does your decision yet stand?’
Wulfgar did not answer. Instead, he turned to his guard, who had hurried up the walls behind in great haste. Einar then spoke: ‘They appeared suddenly my lord, setting their torches alight in concert. We received no word of warning.’
On the black horizon, a faint glow could be seen. ‘No wonder,' said Wulfgar. 'Ravndal burns.' He laid his hand on the pommel of his sword and closed his eyes.
'You do not have long,' said the emissary. 'Saruman desires an answer presently.'
Wulfgar shook his head. ‘I accept,’ he yelled. ‘Saruman will have my sword! Now leave this place!’
The voice of the emissary responded. ‘Saruman is kind. He understands the risks of marching in winter. But he requests that you bring your men to Isengard once the snows melt. Think of Ravndal.'
Wulfborg, T.A. 3019, February 23th.
Women cried as the host departed through the gates of Wulfborg. Wulfgar rode at the head, with Brant at his side. Behind them rode the men of the King’s household guard: fifty of his finest warriors, clad in black ringmail over layers of fur and leather. Behind them came a long line of riders, two abreast, bearing spears and long rider shields, slowly streaming out from Wulfborg's principal gate - less than one-thousand warriors. Lastly there came a company of archers: three-hundred, carrying great bows and long quivers full of black-feathered shafts. No more men could be found. Wulfgar’s people were not numerous.
As they trudged through fields made muddy by the recently vanished snow, Brant spoke to his father.
‘When do we tell them?’ he asked.
‘When we must,’ answered Wulfgar. ‘And no sooner. The White Wizard is skilled in the art of subterfuge. No doubt there are spies in our ranks.’
‘What if they will not listen?’ continued Brant. ‘What if the Prince rejects us?’
Wulfgar looked at his son, then flashed a sad smile. 'We shall see. These are dark times. Saruman seeks to blind us with the plight of our people. To use our weakness to further his own goals.'
'What are his goals?' asked Brant.
'Who can say,' answered Wulfgar. 'Dark, to be sure. Those that have fallen under his sway will never find the world they hope for. Orcs do not congregate around the righteous.’
Fords of Isen, T.A. 3019, February 26th.
The difficult terrain lenghtened what would have been a two day’s march to three. It was the 26th of February when they reached the Gap of Rohan. When they approached the crossings at the Fords of Isen, they came upon a terrible sight. Corpses were strewn about the landings. Streaks of red and black blood colored the fine stones. As they continued, the tragedy expanded: numerous more dead could be seen, scattered beneath tattered green banners. A great battle had taken place: Orcs on the one side, the Men of Rohan on the other.
Wulfgar dismounted, told his men to hold, and walked alone into the stream to see what there was to see. Dead men in shining mail, bloodstained. Orcs marked with the White Hand of Saruman. As Wulfgar continued towards the Ford, he saw others: corpses of wildmen bearing Saruman's symbol.
The king's mind raced. His plan had been to cross into Rohan and set up some manner of alliance with the Rohirrim. To set aside their differences and stand against a common foe. He had never trusted Saruman: often the White Wizard had sent him gifts of tribute, demanding nothing in return. He had appeared at Wulfborg once, when Brynjar was still King. Saruman’s voice had been compelling. He had spoken of the injustice inflicted upon the Dunlendings, and of how justice would inevitably be served. His words had been met with praise. But that night, Wulfgar had been unable to sleep. The image of the Wizard and the sound of his voice, sweet and soothing, would not leave his mind.
Wulfgar stood alone at the edge of the center ford, as the water, pink from blood diluted, drenched his feet and ankles and froze his bones. He closed his eyes. There it was, appearing from out of the mists: the voice of his father. But before Wulfgar could interpret the words, a foreboding sound broke his brief peace. In the distance, a horn was blowing. Its sound was unmistakable to the Dunlending King: it was a horn of Rohan, carried by its commanders.
What choice was there now? If he remained, the strawheads would not hear his words. They would blame him for the atrocity that occurred there, and would take up arms against his men. He could march to Isengard and lay siege to it, but he would have no hopes of winning: the Ring of Isengard was wide, Saruman likely outnumbered him, and even if he had the advantage, he had no means to sustain his army. He could march his men back home, where they would be left to await either the wrath of Saruman or that of Théoden, who would surely come for him, having seen wildmen in his enemy’s ranks.
He turned around and strode back. There lay but one path before him, if he desired to have a chance at sparing his lands and people.
Time passed slow. I drifted away upon the invisible path of the cold wind, moving in and out of an indecipherable dream. But then I heard the cracking of twigs and branches. I sat up and investigated the edges of the clearing, searching for movement. A trunk shivered, a branch fell. A shadow leapt across the forest floor and crept slowly out beneath the pale light of the moon. There it stood: a monstrous creature, as tall as a tree. Its limbs were like gnarled branches of birk, white and knotted and twined together like bone and wirey sinew. Its bony shoulders were covered in a black fur through which sprouted bulbous mushrooms that seemed to bear within them a strange, deathly glow. It had a deer skull for a head, but much larger. A pale flame seemed to live within, casting a flickering light upon the edges of its deep, dark eye sockets. From the skull grew two enormous antlers, malformed and bloodied. All over the creature grew and swayed a fell moss - loëwmorn - that was known to spread rot and disease to everything it touched. I recognized it by its pungent smell; I had it smelt it before, long ago, before our people moved north to get away from the evil that had taken root in the southern regions of the forest.
I had never seen this creature before tonight, but I knew its name: it was the gwanthaur, the death of the forest. The subject of many ghost stories as told by the latest generation of superstituous woodsmen. I didn't believe them, of course. Men are quick to resort to make-believe in order to explain things. A byproduct of their lifespans, I suppose: a short life does not permit a full understanding of the world, nor does it diminish their thirst for knowledge, which they may only glean ere they expire. I had drawn my conclusions: a vicious orc, at most, wearing antlers on his cursed head, in mockery of our King. And so it was that Thranduil had sent me to investigate.
It appeared that I had severely underestimated my quarry. Quietly, I drew an arrow from my quiver and laid it against the string of my bow. It had not seen me, but I knew that soon it would catch my scent. I ignored the throbbing pain in my leg and watched the creature, but it did not move. It stood utterly still, frozen, like a statue come forth from Elven nightmare. I found it difficult to keep my eyes open. Its shape blended into the moon-bathed clearing as I began to drift in and out of consciousness. I felt the blood trickling down my calves and pooling into my boot. Everything went black. In the darkness of my mind, I saw scores of thin, luminescent shapes. Elven spirits, bent and broken, with long, agonized expressions on their faces. They began to speak, then to clamor, in a chorus of lamentation that turned into anguished rage. Above them I saw a great, fiery eye, trapping them beneath the canopy of the Forest of Fear, rendering them unable to journey to the Halls of the Dead.
I tried to open my eyes, but realized they had never been closed. The gwanthaur stepped forward, and the spirits vanished beneath its overgrown hooves. I remembered the arrow resting between my fingers and sat up, pulling back the string as I rose to my feet. Balancing upon the delicate branch, I took my chance and loosened the arrow. My shot found its mark: I saw the red fletching quivering in the spot where I believed its heart might be. The Gwanthaur roared - a terrible sound akin to a hollowed out tree crashing down the hillside. Its antlered head swayed left and right as it stooped down to its knees. For a moment I thought myself victorious, or at least having struck a devastating first blow. I leaned back against the trunk of my tree and nocked a second arrow. The creature groaned, then slammed its gargantuan fists into the soil, causing a tremor that caused me to lose my footing. I tumbled down, grasping vainly at brittle branches before I found myself laying dazed and confused amongst the mossy roots. Before me stood the gwanthaur. It straightened its bent back and tore my arrow from its chest. For a moment it remained still, training its burning gaze upon me as I tried to scramble to my feet. Then it took a heavy step forward, and another. Its smell was overwhelming. It unfurled one of its clawed, brutish hands, and made a grasping gesture. A terrible cold took hold of me. I cast my eyes upwards, hoping to catch a final glimpse of the stars shining through the canopy, but I saw nothing but the thick, oily darkness that enveloped my shivering body. Silence descended. Time slowed to an agonizing pace as I wallowed in my final moments.
Then the silence ended. Branches rustled. A light appeared in the corner of my eyes. The creature's hold lessened, then broke. My lungs greedily sucked in all the air they could as the darkness left my burning eyes. I turned my head towards the light. From the star-lit brush a white stag had appeared, its head held high, meeting the gwanthaur's towering presence in noble defiance. Its fëa radiated outwards, casting long shadows all around it as it advanced upon its foe. The gwanthaur shook its mossy antlers, then took a slow step back, seemingly unwilling to contest this bright apparition over its ground. This was my chance. I dug deep within myself and found a kernel of strength, then lifted myself to my feet, turned around, and limped towards the looming trees. When I looked over my shoulder, both creatures had vanished into the night. I made my way north, as quietly as I could, taking little rest ere I found myself once more amongst the safeguarded glades of the Elvenking.