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Old 11-17-2006, 09:28 AM   #264
Estelo dagnir, Melo ring
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Join Date: Oct 2002
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Durelin is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.Durelin is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.

It was refreshing to find that his work might indeed serve its purpose, and Vrór’s joy was genuine when he shared it with Carl rather than growing angry at the Hobbit’s clumsiness. Even the small stature and light step of a Halfling brought down that section of the tunnel. But the Dwarf knew anything he built or designed like the back of his hand, and he did not recall having additional supports in that piece when the Hobbit stepped on it. It was nearly in the middle of the tunnel, with about two and a half meters on either side of it, and he had allowed it to serve as a test, though not in the way Carl had made it.

It had been a risk to remove the simple wood structuring that he knew might be the only thing really holding the walls and ceiling up in the tunnel, but he had to test some part of it, to know whether or not he had successfully designed an easily collapsible tunnel, or simply a collapsed tunnel. That section had held up even after the supports were removed, and Vrór was tempted to take away all of the supports. But he could not bear to see his work go to waste like that, lest other parts be considerably weaker than the one Carl had fallen into. And even more so, he could not bear to see the disappointment in the faces of those he worked with: Fellowship and slaves alike.

Never had the Dwarf had to do a project such as this. About the closest thing was his more recent work in Gondor, but that was focused on his expertise of masonry. Balancing stone in arches and walls was one thing – balancing keeping a tunnel a tunnel with making sure the soil above it gave way under a step was another matter entirely. His understanding of soil only went so far, and he was glad of Carl’s help in understanding it, but neither of them were familiar with the sort of ground in Mordor. It was in every way a foreign, wild, savage landscape. Its people, though, were in many ways quite the same as those in the West.

In the West, though, Vrór had not had to face death or destruction in a long time. He had grown quite used to peace, though the idea that Sauron’s shadow could no longer haunt any part of Middle-earth was still a little difficult to comprehend, particularly when he stood on dry earth in the middle of Mordor staring at the Ephel Dûath. His heart was filled with sorrow and pity for this land and its people, through the fear and dread and hatred he could not fully suppress after the darkness of the Eye, and he could not stand to think that he might fail them. Failure to help and protect these people was a failure in fully defeating Sauron and his legacy. This land, and its people, had suffered long enough.

He could imagine what it felt like to stand as one of the few who marched from Gondor with Elessar on that day Sauron was destroyed, not knowing if it would be they who were destroyed or the Dark Lord: he thought he might be feeling quite similar at that moment. Vrór pictured the slavers riding toward him, cruel gleaming gold, and but two-dozen were transformed into an army of thousands. A few of their mounts fell, and they with them, into the trench, and he waited for more to fall, but they kept coming. He could feel the ground shaking beneath his feet.

He just did not know for sure if it would work. The Dwarf had been afraid of any danger befalling those working on the excavation, and so he had not been reserved in giving the walls and ceiling of the tunnel as much support as possible. Surely the strength of horses hooves would force the ground out beneath them, and splinter even some of the thicker planks they salvaged. Surely...and yet he could not be sure. Vrór had always been extremely particular in his work. Nothing was to be declared finished or usable or even allowed to be touched by anyone other than those working on it until he had double-checked and triple-checked that there was no fault to it that might prove dangerous even after decades of hard use. And never had he not been present to see his creation used for the first time: whether it was a door being opened and shut, a millstone being ground, or an archway being walked under for the very first time. This tunnel had only to work once, but it had to, and that made it all the more important.

Vrór knew quite well that, had he told anyone his plan, they would have told him it was senseless. If any part of it would collapse easily under the foot of a Hobbit, with or without supports, it would not stand up to a horse bearing a full grown, armoured man. But with only fifteen feet of a chance for them to cross it at all, there was no way the Dwarf could simply wait and see.

Perhaps he was a little obsessive.

As the winds picked up, Vrór could not help but feel the slavers were nearing. He thought it foolish to think that he would base this assumption on an old man’s prediction and promise, but he shook with fear and anticipation down to his very bones as soon as the sand started whipping up into his face. Wrapping two kerchiefs around the upper and lower parts of his face to cover as much as possible, he left enough so that he could see, and make his way quickly and quietly towards the entrance to the tunnel – which was turned in the opposite direction from which the slavers would be approaching the camp – keeping so low that he practically crawled.

Once inside the tunnel, he cursed himself for not being better prepared, as he had not remembered any sort of light. The brightness of the sky had already decreased as the windstorm prepared itself to really blow, and it would only get worse. Carefully, painfully, he removed one of the first wooden slats that had been placed to keep the tunnel up, holding in his breath. Nothing. He pulled out another, and another, moving down the tunnel. He left a few he saw to be particularly well-placed in, saving them, possibly, for on his way back, for he knew he would hit a wall soon. Then he would have to make his way down the other side.

His lungs stressed and his heart almost sore from all its pounding, Vrór stole his way into the other side of the tunnel, and did as he had on the former. He worked his way down, forcing himself to move only as quickly as he could without becoming careless. All seemed quite well until he found that pulling at a plank, originally a part of a small cart, caused dust and dirt to fall from above him, and then all his fears came rushing back. Perhaps he could just leave it?

The Dwarf frantically tried to come to terms with one of his options, and after wasting several moments, he remembered what the howling outside the tunnel meant. He pressed his ear, frozen, and blocked out the strange whipping and whistling sounds the wind made blowing across the tunnel opening with his hand against his other ear. Vrór waited for a few seconds to hear or sense vibrations in the earth, a sign of the horses drawing near. He could not move until he was sure that he did or did not hear them, and that he practically mistook the pounding of his heart for the pounding of hooves did not help. When he thought he heard something beating at a very different pace from the thing in his chest, he spent a moment in disbelief before rushing into action.

The beating was growing louder in his ears, though he was now no longer sure what to attribute any sound to. Just a few more feet to the spot Carl had filled in, and then back, removing the final pieces as he went... Forced to feel his way now, it was slower work then did him well. He should have left the final board, the one that he had spent too long deliberating over already, and he had his mind made up to...until he passed it once again. Vrór found himself stopping before it and slowly inching it out. It was just a few more feet till he would be able to crawl out and run to safety, anyway. But inch-by-inch soon became centimeter by centimeter. The pounding grew louder. Finally, he gave up and wrenched it away before scuttling as fast as he could toward the entrance.

It worked! he thought as everything grew completely dark and he found himself unable to move. Perfectly...

Last edited by Durelin; 11-20-2006 at 01:24 PM.
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