Expedition to the Haunted Vale
Minas Brethil - The Ruins
Copyright ©2000 Phillip Gladney
Edited for The Guild Companion by Joe Mandala, October 2000
The remnants of the two barbicans that once defended the main gate are now hollowed-out shells. The entire outer sides of both were destroyed in the Great Northern War when orcs of the Witch-king's armies overran the fortress. The inner walls remain, however, as do portion of the stone floors.
During daylight hours there is always one guard posted in the left tower. He remains hidden at all times behind what is left of the wall and gains access to the third level by means of a tall ladder. There is also a ladder leading up to the catwalk on the other side of the opposite tower, although, no guard is stationed there. The guard in Tower #2 gets to his post via this ladder.
The ground in between the towers is littered with broken masonry and rubble, yet there is no formal barrier. These stones serve to impede or at the very least slow down anyone entering through the main gate. A wooden barricade, made from a log criss-crossed with sharpened stakes, can be moved quickly into position to bar entry. This barricade stays hidden behind the tower to the right.
This tower, much like all the others except for the armory, is half ruined. A guard is posted here to observe the eastern approaches. Below, in the courtyard, stand two new wooden sheds. These hold the majority of the saddles and feedbags used by the mounted troops.
Twenty-three above-average horses stand in this sturdy corral. Rising directly behind them is one of the outer towers of Minas Brethil. It suffered heavy damage in the attack that preceded the final assault and is considered unstable by the Angmarim. They have done some minor repairs to shore up the weak spots, but this area houses no guard posts.
The horses are all well-behaved. They are treated nicely by the Angmarim and Alcaur has communicated to them the importance of silence. The horses can also alert their masters to trouble, by whinnying when they smell something out of the ordinary, such as the scent of an elf, dwarf or hobbit.
A large pile of rubble stands where a statue of the founder of the Melosse House once did. After the sack of Minas Brethil, an altar was set up here for sacrifices and remnants of this abomination can still be seen. If adventurers dig up this rubble they will find several skeletons left behind from the grisly rituals two centuries before.
All that remains of the old keep is the ground floor and half of the second level. Rising approximately 25 feet, it is now dwarfed by the old armory which reaches a height of 40 feet. Several stone steps provide a means of access into the ground level, which is now used to store the hay needed to feed the mounts of the Angmarim warriors. Stairs to the left circle up to the second floor where another guard is posted. He surveys the land to the north while staying out of sight.
The Armory Tower is detailed completely in the next section.