Fires in the North
The following story can be experienced by starting the quest "Destination: North Downs."
With Ivar the Blood-hand and the Red-maid defeated, the Eglain were now safe to begin rebuilding their lives in the Lone-lands. Word had come from Candaith, the ranger stationed at the base of Weathertop, that beckoned the heroes back to his camp. Calls for Aid had come from Esteldin, a ranger stronghold in the North Downs, that reported Orc forces overrunning the Downs. With the Gaunt-lord’s forces destroyed, the heroes made for Trestlebridge, north of Bree-fields, to assess the threat of the Orcs from the North and bring aid to it’s people.
The heroes crossed into the North Downs from Bree-land to find a horrific scene; The town of Trestlebridge had been burned to the ground. Trestlebridge’s captain, Trotter, told of an attack the night before and of the guard’s failure to defend the town. Had it not been for the heroic efforts of Aggy Digweed, the townsfolk would have surely perished.
During the night, Aggy awoke to a massive explosion which shook the town and set fire to the buildings. The guard on watch, Talbot Hinton, had fallen asleep at his post so whoever had caused the explosion was a mystery. Aggy, a guardswoman as well, roused the surviving citizens to evacuate the buildings. The heroes investigated the wreckage and found traces of black powder within destroyed barrels. The heroes, hoping to make sense of what occurred, spoke with Talbot who had been arrested for allowing this atrocity to occur under his watch.
Talbot was distraught. He did not deny he had fallen asleep, but had no memory of the night. In fact, no other guards but Aggy did. The heroes told Aggy of what the had learned. She directed them towards an Orc encampment northeast of Trestlebridge to determine whether those foul creatures had been responsible.
Within the camps, the heroes found cauldrons of sleeping drought and crates of black-fire powder as well as stolen goods from the townsfolk; the Orcs had surely been responsible for the destruction of Trestlebridge. The heroes returned to Captain Trotter to reveal what they had learned. With Talbot redeemed, the captain released the guard from his bonds.
The safety of the town had been, at least for the moment, secured and the culprits dealt with. However, the heroes would now have to ensure the force of Orcs that had gathered within Nan Wrathen, the mountain pass north of Bree-land, were scattered and broken.
The heroes had never encountered a larger force of Orcs and beasts. It took every ounce of strength the heroes possessed to fight through the stronghold. Deep within the encampment, they came upon the defiler’s cauldron where the sleeping drought had been brewed. Ensuring no one would ever be poisoned by the Orcs again, the heroes destroyed the brewing station.
Their work was not done, however. The heroes had learned of another siege being planned against Trestlebridge within Nan Wrathen. To make sure this never happened, the heroes committed to clearing the entire pass of the evil that now inhabited it. As they fought deeper into the camp, the very sky above them darkened and the air stifled. The heroes fought for as long as they could but the Orc forces were great. They had greatly crippled their war effort, but many foes remained.
The heroes, exhausted but victorious, returned to Trestlebridge to tell the Captain of their success. Safety assured, the townsfolk could now turn their attention on rebuilding their homes. Addy thanked the heroes and directed them towards Esteldin, north and east of the Greenway but cautioned them to turn east before the crossroads as nothing but death awaited further down the road...
Further Reading: Turn East, Never North