Shadow of the White Hand
The following story can be experienced the starting the quest "A Tour of Bree" at Bree-town in Bree-land.
Gandalf the Grey had arrived too late, Frodo Baggins and his companions had left for Rivendell without him. Saruman the White had become the jailer of Mordor and had imprisoned Gandalf atop the tower of Orthanc. All was not lost, however, as Strider, chieftain of the Dúnedain, traveled with them. Meanwhile, the adventurers had returned to the Prancing Pony from the Barrow-Downs, bringing grim tidings with them. As dire as the news was, however, Gandalf could not detract from reaching Frodo. The wizard would have to place the fate of the people of Eriador in the hands of the brave adventurers.
The adventurers were stopped by a local watchman as they exited the Prancing Pony. Brigands scoured the countryside and travelers from the south brought an air of fear to the village. The adventurers' exploits, having reached his ears, granted them a personal meeting with Bree-town’s mayor.
Mayor Graeme Tenderlarch recounted Bree-town’s history and it’s recent plight to the adventurers. The mayor sought their assistance in the matter but felt it was prudent for the adventurers to first become acquainted with the town and it's people. As such, he sent them on a tour of Bree-town to familiarize them with the area.
The adventurers visited many locations within Bree-town and learned of the growing presence of southern ruffians among the peaceful townsfolk.
Upon their completion of the tour, Mayor Tenderlarch pleaded with the adventures to aid Chief Watcher Grimbriar with his investigation of the threats plaguing Bree-town.
Chief Watcher Grimbriar had been stationed on the outskirts of Bree-town in the Southern Bree-fields. He sought to drive the southern brigands, who had encroached onto the Bree-fields, back into the Southern Downs. Before he could do that, however, he would need to uncover who was leading them.
The adventurers investigated Dogwood’s farm to the west, which southern brigands had taken over, for clues. The brigands who were brave enough to take on the adventurers uttered the name “Sharkey” before they were defeated. After driving the raiders from the farm, the adventurers found a strange S-shaped medallion that had been dropped by a fleeing brigand.
Grimbriar did not know who Sharkey was, but a spy among the brigands under his employ would be able to find out. He coordinated a meeting between the adventurers and the spy near a grey rock in a small stand of trees directly north of Bree-town.
The brigand spy told the origins of Sharkey’s men and those responsible for the Dogwood’s farm raid. More akin to a small army than common thieves, Sharkey’s men were gathering a force for some important task under the symbol of a white hand. The spy’s information had been true, the adventurers found a brigand leader in a copse of trees to the west of Grimbriar’s post just as he had told.
Upon defeating the leader, the adventurers uncovered a missive that contained Sharkey’s orders. The missive revealed the southern brigands stronghold within the vale of Andrath south of Bree-town, as well as Sharkey’s interest in a hobbit by the name of “Baggins.” Drawing ever closer to uncovering who Sharkey was, the adventurers continued to investigate the brigand camps throughout the southern Bree-fields while Grimbriar sent scouts to the vale.
Atop Brigand’s Watch, a heavily fortified brigand camp within the southern Bree-fields, the adventurers uncovered another missive that revealed Sharkey’s men were in league with Half-orcs that had made their way to the vale of Andrath.
Grimbriar now fully understood the danger that all of Bree-land faced. Sharkey, whoever he was, now had a legion of Half-orcs and Men amassing in Andrath. The vale served as the only entry to Bree-land from the southern nations. If the trade-route was lost, famine and death would come to Bree-town. Fearing for the safety of his men, Grimbriar sent the adventurers south towards the vale.
The adventurers found Grimbriar’s scouts hiding within an abandoned ruin on the edge of the vale of Andrath. They told of brigands sneaking into Bree-town within the trade caravans that passed through the blockade and of the ever-growing force amassing within the vale.
The adventurers fought bravely through the stronghold, defeating any enemy they came upon in hopes of thinning their ranks.
At the apex of the stronghold, the adventurers fought and defeated Sharkey’s Lieutenant. Although Sharkey’s men had been dealt a blow, brigands and half-orcs continued to arrive at the stronghold. Bree-land would not have the power to successfully siege the vale alone. The scouts sent the adventurers back to Grimbriar with a plea to seek the aid of the Rangers of the North, but he would not hear it.
Grimbriar had no love for the rangers. He would not seek their aid in fear of them claiming Bree-land as their own. In the adventurers' absence, word had reached Grimbriar of brigand activity on the great east road. Adso, an ambitious hobbit, had been blackmailed by local brigands and requested aid.
The adventurers arrived at Adso’s camp on Grimbriar’s behest. Adso had been building a hunting lodge and had been forced to pay off the brigands on a weekly basis to prevent any harm to him or his men. The adventurers agreed to bring the final payment to Bill Ferny, a citizen of Bree-town working with the Sharkey's men, at the old Sweetgrass farm on his behalf. Upon their encounter, Bill told the adventurer that the deal had been altered and that Adso would need to continue his payments.
Adso was outraged and dismayed with the news. He no longer had the money to continue to pay off the brigands so he asked the adventurers to try and scare the brigands away.
The adventurers swiftly fought and cleared the sweetgrass farm of brigands. Their victory was short lived, however, as the brigand captain, Dirk Hawthorn, threatened to kill Adso and his men for driving them from the farm. The brigands had set up camp at the abandoned ruins near the Barrow-Downs. Fearing they would attack in the night, the adventurer infiltrated the camp and defeated Dirk and his men.
With the tables turned, Adso sought to end the harassment once and for all. Bill Ferny’s associate, Brunmor, camped at the Outlaw’s haven on the Brandy hills west of Adso’s camp. If he could be defeated, Adso would be able to continue building his lodge in peace.
The battle was hard fought but the adventurer fell Brunmor atop his camp at the Outlaw’s haven. With the brigands no longer a threat to Adso, he could continue with his dream of owning a hunting lodge.
The adventurers made their way back to Bree-town on the great east road. As they reached the Greenway Crossing, they were met by a messenger from Saeradan, one of Strider’s rangers. Saeradan had learned of the adventurers’ part in stemming the rise of Sharkey’s men and of Bill Ferny, whose selfish actions were endangering all of Middle-earth.
The adventurers rode to Saeradan’s cabin further north off the Greenway crossing. The adventurers recounted all that they had experienced alongside Strider and of the rise of Angmar. He called upon the adventurers to rise up and aid the Rangers of the North in protecting all citizens of Middle-earth as heroes. Their first act would be to aid his kinsmen Andreg, north of Saeradan’s cabin.
Andreg had been tracking the movement of Orcs crossing into Bree-land from the North Downs. He tasked the adventurers with thinning the ranks of the Orcs camped along the Greenway.
The adventurers fell many orcs, but they continued to arrive from the north in greater numbers. Andreg now knew that they would have to strike at the heart of the orc-forces if they were to break their will.
The adventurers infiltrated Cirith Nûr, largest of the orc camps. While slaying orcs, they noted a cave entrance on the cliff-face. The rangers had learned of Bill Ferny's mission to assist the brigands loyal to Sharkey to join with the Orcs and Andreg believed this to be the place where Ferny and the Orc-leaders would make the final arrangements to join sides and invade Bree-land.
Andreg’s assumption proved correct, the cave contained many southern brigands. The adventurers fought their way through the cave until they came upon Bill Ferny and the Orc chieftain discussing their terms of agreement.
The Orc Chieftain engaged the adventurers while Bill Ferny ran away. Alone, the Orc could not withstand the might of the fellowship. The adventurers returned to Andreg with the news of what had transpired. With the death of their chieftain, the Orcs would not align with Sharkey’s men.
With the orc-plot foiled, The rangers believed the Orcs would scatter back towards the North. Saeradan had received news of an old dwarf who had come from the Blue Mountains and had been ambushed by Orcs. The adventurers sought out the dwarf who told of his mission to investigate dwarf-ruins that were rumored to exist in the northern Bree-fields.
When Oddvarr was ambushed, he dropped his pack which contained his provisions and asked the adventurers to reclaim it for him. When the adventurers came upon it, they found Orcs rummaging through it's contents.
The adventurers defeated the Orcs and retrieved the pack. Upon returning it to Oddvarr, they learned that the Orcs had taken his research notes. The adventurers scouted the northern Bree-fields and ambushed wandering orcs, recovering the intact notes.
The adventurers returned to Andreg to bring news of the Orcs they had encountered. He tasked the adventurers to learn of the extent of the Orc presence. To their horror, the adventurers learned that it had not been a small scouting party; The orcs had broken through the borders of the North Downs and had established a foothold in Bree-land.
The adventurers returned to Saeradan with the dire news. While they had prevented the southern invasion, the rangers in the North Downs had failed to stop the Orcs. With Orcs to the north and brigands to the south, Bree-town faced dangers on all sides. The defence of Bree-town would have to fall on the city watch, however, as the adventurers now set their eyes on a greater foe stirring in the east...
Further Reading: Light in the Darkness & Fires in the North