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Old 10-09-2006, 12:32 PM   #216
Flame of the Ainulindalë
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Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Wearing rat's coat, crowskin, crossed staves in a field behaving as the wind behaves
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Adnan had saved Hadith from a tight spot. He had been taught to revere older ladies all his life and had been raised by them. So no question why he felt unsure in front of Granny Brenna, in this uncomfortable new role of his and in the company of the women. Valar bless you Adnan, if you truly exist, he thought to himself as Adnan broke in.

But what was most positive about the whole new situation was that the ex-slaves were getting to co-operate the first time in their shared history. Beloan and a couple of other veterans really made the difference here, but even more importantly it was because it was done together, the more experienced ex-slaves and the recently freed, all together. Beloan and his friends came to have their say to the discussion that was going on between Hadith, Brenna and Adnan. And soon enough also Joshwan joined the debating circle of people. The others gathered around them, listening carefully for what was said and a few brave ones also let their opinions known or made questions about the reasonability of the plans being wrought. It was actually doing something together and it brought the ex-slaves nearer to each other. A shared sprit was being aroused there and then. And Hadith was relieved. He was no leader and had never actually wished to be one. Now Beloan, Brenna and Joshwan were making the strongest points and he could just take part in the discussion, voicing his mind as he felt it made sense and otherwise being silent, just listening to the debate.

The resulting plan of defence was not anything ingenious but it clearly was better than nothing. First of all they had decided to share all the weapons as evenly as possible so that everyone with more than one would have to give the extra weapons away to those who had none. That caused a bit of murmur in the ranks of the veterans but most of them soon realised the wisdom of the plan and they all handed their extra weapons with just some gritting of teeth. Secondly they decided that the children should be taken away to as much safety possible. It was decided that Adnan and Nia would seek a place where they could be moved as quickly as possible. There was some debate over whether the elderly should be taken to that possible safety too, but with Brenna in their lead, the elders refused the offer. They would fight alongside the others. The longest debate ensued on the question whether the children should be protected by some adults or should they trust them being able to avoid attention. In the end a couple of adults were assigned to keep them company and defend them with their lives, and be given a horn to which they should blow if the worse came to happen.

Thirdly they discussed the tactics in case of an open assault. It soon became clear that they needed to concentrate their forces and that they should go for any advantage they could come up with. In the end it was decided that they were to be divided into two groups, both taking a defensive position on top of the two easternmost mounds around the camp. From there they would have the slight advance of height against the possible onrushing horses, enabling them to attack the horses bellies from under them and thence being able to unmount the enemy. There was also the point over the effectiveness of any projectiles, like pebbles, that would be increased with height-advantage. And surely any downed slaver was easier to fight from above than from beneath with all momentum of force behind the one going for the enemy downhill.

The late evening went busily as everyone was maintaining and sharpening their weapons. Despite the gloomy forecasts of what would happen the feeling in the camp was almost merry. The people were starting to believe in one another. Surely there were exceptions. Not all had been happy with the decisions made, but most seemed to be ready for whatever would fall upon them. At last we’re doing this together! Hadith thought and gave his blade a third check tonight. But I’m afraid... I quess we all are.

But as earlier in the evening, Hadith’s gloomy thoughts were soothed by Beloan’s words that still echoed in his mind. “Friends! We are in this together from our own free will, defending one another by our own free choice! Let us show those villains that we are no slaves anymore, let us show them we are no longer easy picks for them but free men and women ready to fight for ourselves... and for the sake of our fellows, together! Let’s show them we are united and strong!”

That had been a speech! Hadith had admired Beloan from their first meeting onwards, but this had been just outstanding. Hadith drew courage from Beloan’s words for he was afraid of the night and what would come to pass with it. And there was something in his words that spoke more truly about the concept of freedom that had hounted Hadith from the very beginning and yet which he hadn’t quite clearly undertstood, or which he was struggling to understand but hadn’t yet been able to realise in full. He knew he was still missing something, but Beloan’s words started to generate new thoughts in his mind. One might say that one is free when he didn’t need to follow others or their orders and could do what is most convenient to oneself. But there must a deeper meaning to freedom, I know there must be, for that can’t be all there is to freedom. Hadith tried and tried to think of it and felt that his brains were near the boiling point. It hurt, physically too. Slavery requires obedience, unwilling compulsion to something that is declared from outside from you yourself, but freedom requires willing responsibility from inside, readiness to stand up not only for your own freedom but also for the freedom of others as no one can be free alone – but the tyrants.

Hadith was still uneasy with his thoughts, not actually understanding all the implications of things he had thought, when the alarm came. The horns were blowing.

“To the stations!”, Joshwan called and everyone started busily preparing themselves for the imminent fight. Hadith’s heart-rate bursted to the maximum. So this is it then..., he managed to think as he awoke from his thoughts.

“Are the children in safety?” Granny Breanna shouted desparately over the hassle of the awaking camp. Hadith had drawn his blade and was about to run to the mound he had been assigned to defend with the other half of the group as he raised his head to actually see the people coming towards them down the hill. That doesn’t look like an attacking party of the slavers. They do not look like slavers, they come so slowly and most of them are riding in doubles... Hadith was baffled for a second.

“No! These are no enemies! Hold your weapons!” It was Khamir. In an instant Hadith realised that he had not seen or thought of Khamir in many hours. Where had he been and why had he not been with the others as they discussed their tactics and overall defence. Had he gone away and was now back or what? But surely it was Khamir. And the others realised the situation too. These were no attackers. Allmost all the people rushed towards the strangers, not thinking about the defence-plan, but still not unsheathing their weapons either. Hadith followed the others.

The kids we lost! And... who was she... Shae she was called? The fellowship sent by Elessar himself? This dragged party here? Well they look majestic, I admit, well most of them look... Hadith was stupefied. Many had started groaning and not all the words passed to the newcomers were welcoming indeed. Hadith admitted he himself was a bit disappointed at the appearance of the fellowship he had heard Beloan tell tales of. Their coming could break the newly wrought unity among the ex-slaves, giving one or two the leeway to fall back into obedience and servient behaviour, forgetting their freedom and the responsibility that went hand in hand with it. He saw what people were afraid of, he suddenly and clearly saw it. Hadith was getting frustrated and was ready to join the ranks of those who called the newcomers with pointy words.

Then he heard Kwell’s passionate cry from the ranks of the newcomers and identified him immediately.

“You’re all fools! Can’t you see they’ve come to help? Quit being idiots!” he shouted again, as another murmur rose. “You were all too cowardly to come help Azhar and me, except Shae, and they helped! They’re wanting to help you, too, are you just going to – to send them off packing?”

That was just enough for Hadith and before he had time to think he had actually stepped forwards in front of the fellowship and raised his unsheathed blade up high. No, not again... he thought as he kind of heard himself opening his mouth and saw himself taking the posture of addressing everyone present again, this time with possibly much more nobler audience. He felt ashamed but couldn’t stop his sudden anger.

“If you are here to help us, we greet you with joy. We do not have too many friends in this forsaken land.” Hadith had addressed the fellowship and then turned to face Kwell. He could see his point but still he was furious enough to let his words fly into the open.

“But never, never ever call us cowards or fools, or idiots! We are free men and women! You don’t make us your friends...” Hadith looked at the fellowship and the rescued ex-slaves. “ insulting us unfairly.” Then he gazed at Kwell again, even though his words were loud enough to be meant to all the people around. “What do you think would have followed if this army of the crippled would have launched a rescue operation? Kwell, I understand how you feel, but just think of it. We didn’t even know whether you were five or fifty miles away! Or in which direction! Just give it a thought before you go blaming others about being idiots, cowards or fools!

Hadith made a pause and fell into thinking. He really was getting to feel very insecure. He didn’t know what he was doing and hoped he hadn’t opened his mouth in the first place. Well, it’s started, so let’s finish it, he thought and addressed the public once more.

“We’re ready to fight and we will fight, whatever will come out from it! We stand united against anyone wishing us harm! We are free people, freely sticking together to aid one another! And we will fight with you beside us or without you! And if we must die, then we die, but we will die as free men and women, responsible of our own choices to stand for each other! Kwell, I know you may find this a bit hypocritical. You have a right to see it so, but we have matured just today, partly because of what happened to you and the girl here." He nodded towards Athwen in shame of not remebering her name. "I’m really happy to see you both alive and well, but don’t blame us for something that would have been just suicidal to all of us others. You had luck, and I hope we also have luck with the appearance of this fellowship, but we need to be ready to stand against the attack of the slavers pretty soon I’m afraid.”

Hadith had to draw breath. His speech had been a passionate one, more than he had thought he’d be able to, but now he was calming down. Mainly to himself he muttered: “I think we were not prepared last night but now we will...” But that was loud enough for most of the people to hear.

I’m learning this freedom-thing now, am I?

Last edited by Nogrod; 10-09-2006 at 12:59 PM.
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