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piosenniel 06-18-2006 03:02 PM

The Fellowship of the Fourth Age (Part 1): A New Beginning RPG
 
–¤– Khamir –¤–

The slaves snuck glances as the boy was brought back out to the fields. He had been gone for only minutes, but the rest of the slaves had been at the mercy of the whip if they even thought of pausing in their work while they were forced to listen to his screams. What they had done to the child the overseer would have liked to have done to all the slaves, but the survival rate was not good enough to risk losing so many of the laborers. The plantation owner would have his heartstrings for a necklace if he ever put his power and wealth at such risk. Neither was very abundant in Mordor since the defeat of Sauron, particularly wealth. Those who had any wealth or power were those who lived without the constant worry of what to fill their stomachs with. And who had control of the few sources of water.

The boy’s mother put herself at great risk, leaping forward to get to her son, dropping her work. The Orc who dragged the boy out to the fields kicked her down onto her hands and knees. There she groveled and begged just to hear that her son was alright, even though she knew he wasn’t and never would be. She had no hope for his future. She felt terrible guilt for even having given birth to him. He had not deserved it. Her son was completely silent. He had been since even before they brought him out.

“Tell the sow you’re alright and get her to shut up.” The overseer and the Orc holding the boy howled with grating laughter. The boy turned his head to look at his mother. There was a moment when the two’s eyes met and the boy opened his mouth. Nothing came out. His lips moved, but no words were formed. No words, no sound was heard. His mother collapsed to the ground, wailing, not rising even for the stomping and kicking of the other guards, so consumed by her grief. Her son’s tongue had been ripped out, and his vocal cords removed or made unusable through a procedure involving a hot iron. The mother cried and screamed as two guards, one a Man and one an Orc, forcibly pulled her up and dragged her toward the rough shed. She would be taken care of in much the same way, but she did not cry for herself.

The two had been among those who had tried to escape during the short-lived rebellion of the desperate slaves against their master. Mother and son had probably tasted some kind of freedom for a few hours, but they had been recaptured and were being punished and used as tyrannical symbols of fear because of the forbidden fruit that had bitten from. They had not been alone as escapees, though. There were of course others who had shared and would share similar fates, but there were also those who had made it to the mountains. The looming natural barricade of the mountain range seemed to mock them, and yet they saw the peaks as soaring freedom. Some actually planned to scale the mountains and escape to the world beyond; others simply wanted to get as far from the plantation as they could, and toward the southern range of the Ephel Dûath was as good a direction as any that were not back.

Four days after the rebellion, fifty-six of the escapees had collected themselves into a group, looking for others who had escaped and anyone who they could call an ally. Few, as they approached the mountains, actually considered climbing them, no matter how nice they knew or had heard the world beyond them was. For several days, the mountains acted as a hiding place for the fifty slaves that still lived, and become more of a cage than ever. But on the seventh night after their escape, they woke up to find themselves surrounded. Luckily, their stalkers were allies, and useful ones: a gang of ex-slaves, free for varying numbers of years, and staying alive mostly through theft from their former masters. Fierce fighters and superb survivalists, they brought more useful skills to the group. Some of them were truly thieves and killers, but they all had or remembered having family in various forms. They welcomed more hands, even if it meant more mouths to feed. And the two groups discovered quickly, if they had not known it from the start, that there was really very little separating them: both were more than ready for change.

Most had heard, though at least a year later than they should have, that Nurn actually belonged to them. Several years after Elessar’s declaration, word had spread to practically every being in Mordor that, according to the King of Gondor, the slaves were free. And yet they were still being whipped, chained, and treated as animals in the very land they were supposed to own. It was that knowledge that had given the slaves enough hope to risk rebellion, and it was what pushed them now to journey across Mordor to the southern reaches of the Plateau of Gorgoroth. A new wilderness meant a new beginning.

Khamir sat outside the caves in which the rest of the camp slept, the pitch black of night not intimidating in the least, and the crisp rushing of the river not loud to his ears. It was his watch. Every night, he had the last watch. It was just his way, and very few liked to stand in his way. He knew that the night around him could betray him at any moment, but he sat calmly, resting his mind in dreams without sleep. So many nights he had sat up in the same way amongst the sharp rocks at the base of the mountains. What made this night any different? For one thing, the company was different. There were now sixty-four men, women, and children sleeping nearby. It was no longer just the gang, and they no longer only had to worry about themselves. More was not necessarily better, but this group…they brought hope, something that Khamir had long given up on. It felt good to have it back.

He knew he was happier than he had been in years, though he did not smile. He knew the journey ahead would be the roughest he had ever taken, and he feared the numbers they might lose. He knew he had never had to figure out how to feed sixty-five mouths before, and hoped someone else had leadership in mind. He knew all of this, and yet he found peace lingering somewhere in the night air. Very soon he would be able to see the sun inching its way up the horizon. Perhaps it was hope of such a sight that kept him still. He knew hope was a powerful force.

But what he did not know was that, miles away, that same force drove a group shockingly similar to his own. The Orcs, the cruel masters, the savage monsters, the mindless followers of Sauron…they had families that they cared for. And they knew that it was time Nurn was abandoned, along with the old ways. They sought a new way, a new home, and a new beginning. Fifteen Orcs, male and female, young and old, would find a fresh wilderness just as attractive as sixty-five men, women, and children would. Neither knew they had dreamed the same dream, and neither would believe it if they were told so.

But if hope could be shared, why not a journey, a land? Why not a new beginning?

That morning, Khamir found what he could to write a letter that would show just how hopeful recent events had made him. He planned to write to the King of Gondor himself. It was he, Aragorn, Elessar, who had not forgotten the slaves. Perhaps this would be just another reminder? Was it a cry for help, a beseeching of aid, a simple report of the situation? Khamir found himself unable to write a single word for almost an hour, but when he finally started to write, the letter became all three of those things. He told of the slaves’ escape, of he and his fourteen men’s troubles, and of their plan to start anew together. He also told of the difficulties they faced daily, and how they would only double if they ventured to leave the safety of the caves and to a complete wilderness. The word ‘help’ was not there, but it was in every way implied. The letter was given to a trader heading back to Minas Tirith, and Khamir found himself praying for the first time.

Now all they had to do was wait in hope for some kind of answer: preferably one that did not come only in writing.


--- Durelin

piosenniel 06-18-2006 03:04 PM

Brinniel's post - Shae


All slaves sentenced to death were to be executed publicly. Joren was no excuse- he was to be made an example of. The slaves of the southeastern quarters had only been asleep for a couple hours when they were reawakened and ordered to watch the execution. The hundred or so of them rubbed their groggy eyes and gathered around the wooden platform. Shae stood in the front. Joren had been there for her, through good and bad, and she would do the very same until the end. Her brother was dragged onto the platform, bleeding and his head hanging. His ears and tongue were gone, as were his fingers. For several minutes, the guards taunted Joren as they beat him. Then they pulled him to his feet. The executioner sharpened and positioned his blade. For a split second, Joren’s eyes found Shae’s. His expression was not one of fear, but of sincerity and regret. And then it was gone. The blade ran swiftly through his neck and then it was over. The slaves all trudged back to their quarters until there was only Shae left. Hands clenched into fists and feet planted to the ground, she found herself unable to take her eyes off her brother’s body. Then something in the dirt- a shine of silver- caught her eye. Shae reached down and picked up the item. It was a necklace- Joren’s necklace. The small symbol of the White Tree glowed dully underneath the stars. It was the last bit of her brother she had left. Tonight was the first night Shae was completely alone.

*********************

Shae woke suddenly, clutching the necklace, her forehead beaded with sweat. Taking a deep breath, she allowed her senses to return and opened her eyes. All around her, bodies were sprawled out inside the cave, fast asleep.
Great, she thought. It’s still night.
Shae was tired of having the same dream. Almost every night she witnessed Joren’s murder over and over again. No matter how hard she tried, she couldn’t get her brother out of her head.

Shae sat up and unwrapped the rag on her left hand. Scars covered her palm and the most recent wound was only beginning to heal. Shae unlatched a dagger from her belt and used it to reopen the wound. The familiar pain felt soothing to Shae and as the blood poured from her hand, so did the memories of Joren’s death.

As Shae rewrapped her hand, one of the slave escapees kicked her foot in his sleep, startling her. Shae was not used to the large size of the group. For over a month, there had been only fifteen of them. She enjoyed the small number- all could carry their own weight and most were quiet and kept to themselves. Last night, the ex-slaves stumbled upon a large group of slave escapees and suddenly the number jumped from fifteen to sixty-five. There would be no privacy.

Outside, Shae could see a line of pink on the horizon. Dawn was approaching. No point in trying to go back to sleep now. Brushing back strands of tangled hair, she stood up and stepped outside, waiting for the sun to rise.

“Couldn’t sleep again?”
Shae turned around to find Khamir, as usual, on the last watch of the night.
She shook her head. “No. Too much to think about.”
“I know what you mean.” Khamir paused a moment before continuing. “We have sixty-five mouths to feed. I think we need to have a hunting party go out this morning. You up to it?”
“Of course,” she replied. “Aren’t I always? How about you?”
“No,” he said, scanning the sky. “I have a letter to write.”

piosenniel 06-19-2006 02:39 PM

Orofaniel's post - Reagonn


There was a blaze of heat. Reagonn awoke in his shelter discovering that it was filled with thick, dark grey smoke. He quickly noticed the wave of panic that spread among the slaves and soon cries of agony and horror filled Reagon’s ears. Still half-asleep, he managed to get up and at this point, his instincts were quite clear: he felt the urge, or moreover the necessity, to escape from this place. Nevertheless, as he got up he could feel the years of labour finally sink in, and he became utterly disorientated and confused. The legs beneath his crippled body now seemed to fail to support him, and he fell slowly to the ground with a short thud.

The blaze was now spreading rapidly, and he could feel his senses weakening as he inhaled the poisonous smoke. Feeling suffocated, he witnessed the masses of slaves running past him as they hurried to get out, he tried to cry out for help, but his voice failed to cut through the loud voices and the sounds of cracking building material. The ceiling in the left corner of the shelter now started collapsing, and Reagonn could see two slaves running as fast as they could to avoid being trapped beneath the burning wood – all in vain. They cried out as the heavy material hit them, and although chaos surrounded him and the air was filled with voices, Reagonn could somehow feel the vibrating silence from the left corner of the shelter. As he crawled further towards the exit, he knew his last minutes had come. Feeling trapped, Reagonn felt helpless and utterly alone. Yet, the situation did not distress him, like it might have distressed others. On the contrary Reagonn now felt somewhat relieved; finally, he was to be realised from the pain…the suffering…the agony in which he had lived for years. Reagonn had waited for this moment.

Nevertheless, the fright that suddenly struck him was not at all unexpected.

“Get up,” someone cried.

Alarmed by this command, he came to his senses, and trying to regain his balance, he stood up. Walking more steadily now, he felt that things were clearer. Almost all the slaves had evacuated by now, yet he could still hear cries, although he could not conclude whether they came from inside the shelter or outside. Reagonn turned and watched the flames surround him and the lifeless bodies on the ground; They were victims of this ruthless fire... In the life-threatening situation, Reagonn did not have much time to think, yet he could not help feeling sorry for these slaves. He had laboured with for many years and now he was witnessing the miserable fate they had faced.

Would this be his destiny as well?

Witnessing this he realised that it was time for his second attempt to escape. Not only from the fire, but from the plantation.

**

The palm of his hand felt sweaty against the pale skin of his face. He was half-asleep, half awake. This dream, which he had dreamt so many times before would not leave him. These shadows, these nightmares, from the plantation tormented him, and continued to confuse him. And always, near fully awaking, he saw the same face…the same smile and the very same expression in front of him – in the redish monstrous flames. A younger self started back at him, almost identical, yet some of his features shared no resemblance with his own, whatsoever. He was around Bornir’s age, his only friend in life whom had been brutally punished by the plantation’s master - yet it wasn’t him. Thinking about Bornir he could felt enraged, yet this time he felt a wave of pure hatred and rage build up inside of him like never before. After that was just the bitterness...The bitterness he was used to.

Who was he? There was no answer, just a blur of confusion, a foggy maze with no beginning or end. More questions rose, only to be forgotten again while silently awaking from this horror of a nightmare. Like so many times before he awoke while clutching his knife and gasping for air. His eyes were wide open filled with dread as he felt the pearls of sweat running down from his forehead.

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piosenniel