Middle Earth Misfits
Rannulf the Slow, Hunter of Shadows
Rannulf is a lean man of middling height that looks to be near his thirtieth year. He has dark hair and eyes and is tanned from a life largely spent out of doors. He wears leathers and hides along with a weathered gray cloak.
He carries a functional looking axe and a shield made of layered wood and hide. On his back are a heavy longbow and a quiver of stout-shafted arrows.
Rannulf, known among his people as Rannulf the Slow for the dogged but unrelenting pace he sets, hails from the woodman of East Anduin; a stretch of land along the western edge of Mirkwood. For several years, he worked as a messenger between the villages and townships, carrying news and missives between the settlements.
Once, when he had only held his position for a few months, he discovered that a band of wicked outlaws were planning a series of raids on villages in the woodlands as well as Beorning territories. Upon delivering the news to those people, he made the acquaintance of one Viddar, who served as a sometime envoy for his people. Viddar traveled with Rannulf back the woodlands and helped to coordinate the defenses against the raids. The two men worked well together and the outlaws were stopped.
Living so close to Mirkwood, some of the foul creatures from that place would inevitably seek prey from the nearby villages. The occasional wolf or giant spider trying to kill cattle or sheep was not unheard of. When the attacks started to become more frequent and aggressive, the people decided the person to ask about such beasts would Radagast the Brown.
Having earned a greater level of trust among his people, the clans gave Rannulf the task of traveling south to Rhasgobel to ask the wizard what could be causing the attacks. While the wise men there knew of the beasts’ agitation, they could not speak to its cause. On his return trip through Mirkwood, Rannulf heard elves singing from across the stream. In the gloom, he also espied several vicious wargs loping toward the sound. Separated by the water, and sure he could not get past the beasts in time to warn the elves, he tore a strip of cloth from his tunic and wrapped it about an arrow. Then, breaking off the point to avoid impaling anyone, he lit the cloth with flint and fired it toward the singing as a warning. A moment later the singing stopped abruptly, followed by a shout of alarm and the sounds of fighting.
Rannulf managed to find a crossing and raced to aid the elves. In the fray, he was bit deeply on the arm, the wound bled profusely, but it wasn’t life threatening. The wolf that bit him seemed to regard him as it retreated from the melee. The elves helped him bind his wounds and one of them –a curious sort named [Andy]– returned the singed arrow shaft to him.
Not long after returning to his homeland, Rannulf acquired a traveling companion, a massive deerhound named Garm. He and the dog continued to travel from place to place, carrying news and messages. It wasn’t long before Rannulf made a curious observation. Reports of spider and warg attacks continued, but the intensity seemed to increase shortly after his arrival. He couldn’t shake the idea that somehow he was attracting the creatures to the villages. Increasingly anxious, he traveled again to Rhasgobel. There, he was told that such things smacked of the more than simple beasts. The elves of Mirkwood had long fought the shadow, perhaps they might have the answers he sought?
Upon reaching the Elven King’s halls, Rannulf sought audiences with several of their scholars, but they had little trust for strangers. After a few frustrating days, Rannulf happened to again encounter [Andy] who vouched for him with the other elves, telling of his aid against the wargs and the wound he suffered as a result. One scholar was intrigued about the wound and –upon examination and some questioning– determined that Rannulf now carried a mark that called out to the shadow, making him a target of its bestial servants and the like.
Rannulf had never really thought of the wolves and spiders as more than vicious beasts, but now he realized that the Enemy was real, and it was full of malice. He then resolved that he could not return home or linger in one place for too long, for it might put innocents at risk. Deeming that a large place,like a city would be better able to protect itself than an isolated village, Rannulf decided his next stop would be Laketown.
One day, on the road to Esgaroth, Garm scented something ahead. Carefully, reconnoitering, Rannulf saw a group of wicked looking men with weapons preparing to ambush a group of travelers on the road below. Though outnumbered, Rannulf then decided that if he had to run from the shadow, the shadow would run from him, too!
Rannulf and his hound surprised the outlaws and slew several of them before Rannulf was wounded. Before the men could finish him, the noise attracted the travelers who came to his aid, causing the outlaws to flee. They thanked him for stopping the men and bound his wounds. He finished his journey with them to Laketown and rested a few days to heal.
While in town, Rannulf took several herbs he had collected to an apothecary. He had learned some lore of what plants were useful in leechcraft, but wished to know more. The apothecary had recently lost a hand and said that a colleague of his might help Rannulf. It was a woman from Dale named [Shelley] who had apparently had some experience with things like the venoms from the giant spiders, and she helped teach Rannulf several useful poultices and infusions.
When Rannulf told [Shelley] about how he hunted the servants of the enemy, she told him of a man seeking such allies who was currently in Laketown. Rannulf eagerly agreed to meet with the man who turned out to be none other than his old acquaintance Viddar of the Beornings!
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