The party drifted across the small lake to the eastern wall of the Dark Valley. Landing on the rocky shore, Freya kept watch while Araluth and Elentari began to meditate. Hamrammr and Jor scrambled up the rocky slope and found a well-traveled trail circling the valley and torchlight to the north. Not a good sign.
Hamrammr & Jor snuck down the trail to investigate the torch light, while the rest of the party hid, except for Tum, who snuck off somewhere unnoticed. A few moments later, a warg and rider ran past, headed for the torches. They didn’t see anyone, and from their concealment the scouts could see a gate tower protecting a river that exited from the valley. Three orcs, one in chainmail, were talking with the orc with the warg. The warg and rider returned past the party again while the three orcs in the tower went on high alert and lowered the portcullis over the river exit.
The scouts returned and a plan was made. The raft was kicked loose and allowed to drift slowly down to the portcullis. Jor cast a shadow spell and the party advanced on the towers. The three archers (Freya, Araluth, & Elentari) began the assault on an orc on the tower, while Hamrammr ran to the tower. Jor began preparing his lightning spell. The second round of arrows killed the orc, and Hamrammr entered the tower, engaging the orc captain (in chainmail) and another orc with him. The northman severed the orc’s spine and he dropped, after which the second orc fled towards the archers. Jor’s spell did little damage, but Elentari and Araluth drew swords and engaged, slaying the orc. Hamrammer came out of the tower to help, and received arrow fire from the tower and the remaining orc as a reward. The northman ran in and killed the archer with a single horrific cut, which brought the total number of orcs killed since the part entered the Dark Valley to 28. Not bad.
The party then assembled on the raft and held it in place while Hamrammr raised the portcullis and then joined them. They drifted down the underground tunnel for some time, eventually passing through a waterfall and to the outside once more. The sun felt wonderful and the party would have liked to camp and heal, but they continued on as the sun set. After 8 miles, they passed a trailhead aimed north, but continued another 4 miles before making camp deep in the woods that surrounded the river, and letting the raft loose to head downstream without them. In the morning, they walked 6 miles along the river until it joined with the Sirros, and then another 15 miles until they once again reached Don Tirbirath, where they were greeted, wined, and dined. Plans were made to rescue Osric from Ughluk, the Goblin King, and though Freya wished to accompany the party, she was urged to continue to Maethelburg in hopes of avoiding further bloodshed among Dunedain, Northmen, and Hillmen. The warriors were given chainmail and mules, along with Arborang weapons. Araluth kept Acharn (a Mithglin longsword, passed down in his family for generations) but accepted a dagger of Arborang gratefully.