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Old 06-09-2007, 11:04 AM   #398
Child of the 7th Age
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Lindir and Aiwendil..

At last the camp lay quiet. The orcs were secure within the pit, and, since Lindir required less sleep than the others, he had volunteered to take the remainder of that night's watch. Moreover, he was having trouble sleeping and wanted time to reflect on the strange happenings of the day and what should be done after the rest of their party arrived. That event should occur by mid-afternoon. He was keenly aware that, even within his own small group, several of the former slaves thought him addled or soft for not running the orcs through as they slept, since there was bound to be trouble once they were freed.

Perhaps these men were right, the elf regretfully mused, but he could not bring himself to slay someone who lay in a drunken stupor. Lindir could agree that Orcs were vile, dispicable creatures, yet he did not know what to do. If he set them loose on the plain, they could later reappear and make him regret his decision. But was it right to execute an orc simply because he belonged to a particular race that had done great injury in the past and presumably might do so in the future? An uncomfortable memory from his own boyhood flitted through his mind, which he hastily pushed aside. In any case, he objected, the decision was not his to make. He could suggest or try to persuade, but the group would ultimately determine the fate of the prisoners.

A stirring in the bushes caused the elf to stare out into the darkness. His fingers tightened about the hilt of his knife as he leapt up for a closer look. There was a second rustling, and the bushes parted to reveal a familiar face. "Aiwendil? Is that you?" Without waiting for a response the elf darted forward to embrace his friend. His words came spilling out. "Where were you? I could not sense your presence or your thoughts since you left the battle." He added in a chiding tone, "You should have told me you were safe."

The old man shook his head and struggled to explain, "Lindir, I am sorry, truly sorry, but I had no choice. I found myself in a strange predicament. The slightest mistep could have cost me my life. And not only my life, for I knew I must return to give a warning to you. So I kept my thoughts close for fear that others might overhear."

"Overhear? What kind of threat lurks on the plains that could read the mind of an istar?"

Aiwendil was silent for a moment before responding in a cryptic tone. "I have learned some things since my departure that may affect our fortunes. I do not know all with certainty. Many questions remain, but I heard enough to let me guess what must have transpired in Mordor over the past few years and what may yet befall us in coming days. It does not make me easy, and I will share all in good time. But first you must tell me what has happened here.....how we fared in the final minutes of the fight and who is with you in this place. How are our friends who still wait in the old camp? And Rg? Can you tell me of his fate? For I have been troubled with disturbing dreams and strange forebodings whose meaning is unclear."

Although Lindir wondered what Aiwendil had glimpsed on the plains of Mordor, he did not press for an immediate answer. Instead, he did as the old man requested, sharing what news he could and adding the details about their strange encounter with the orcs. Aiwendil seemed as baffled over the latter episode as Lindir had been. The istar could not offer any explanation for the behavior of the orcs or understand why such a small party would be travelling on its own. Nor did he have any idea how they should handle the prisoners.

Finally, once Lindir had finished with all his news, he pressed Aiwendil to describe what he had seen, "Could these orcs possibly be connected with the threat you saw on the plains? If so, we would be better off slaying them and, by doing so, prevent news from reaching the others."

Aiwendil shook his head, "Anything is possible. But I do not think so. What I saw on the plain had nothing to do with orcs. Indeed, I did not see a single orc. The threat seems of a different type. Do you remember in the last battle of the War of the Ring how the forces of the olog-hai were scattered to the winds? Those great giant creatures, so full of cunning, were among the worst of Sauron's monstors. So mighty were they in battle that none saw them fall on the plains of Mordor. In fact, some doubted that they could even be slain. But with the destruction of the Ring and the demise of its master, these stone creatures fled the field of war as if they had lost their minds, and have not been seen since that day. That is....none have seen them until two days ago when I beheld a gathering of the olog-hai just north of here. I saw and could not believe so I stayed in their camp to learn more...."

"Olog-hai?" Lindir interrupted. "But is that possible? Most have said that these creature cannot act unless they are directed by a mind greater than theirs. Once Sauron died, they disappeared into the hills."

"So I thought as well. But this much I can tell you. They travel north to the same mountains and foothills where we are heading. They intend to gather their forces there. Now there are only twenty or so, but many more are expected with the slow turning of the seasons. What I do not know and can not guess is whether another mind lies in back of their actions, or they have come up with this plot on their own."

"But what is their intention? For what purpose do these olog-hai gather?"

"I can not say with certainty. But I heard the name of Elessar cursed many times, and all in the camp spoke of the need to head west to attack once they establish control over Mordor. Exactly what their plan is and when it will be put in operation, I do not know. Even so, I am sure of two things. It will never be safe to settle on the Plateau of Gorgoroth until these creatures be gone from there. We are doomed to fail as long as they live. And the longer they live and plot, the greater the threat is to Gondor and to all the free peoples of Middle-earth."

"But we are too few, too few to face such a threat," Lindir countered. "No rag tag band of travellers can hope to defeat a threat such as this." The elf's voice was solemn.

"Yes, that has occurred to me as well. Perhaps we should just stay here and send messengers back to Minas Tirith to ask for an army to help us clear the way. But there is also danger in waiting too long. It will be many months before a request can arrive at court and a convoy of soldiers be sent into Mordor. Who knows what damage the olog-hai can do in that time? Now they are twenty...by next spring their numbers may swell to a hundred or more. That is the danger of waiting."

"We need allies then....immediate allies," observed Lindir with a shake of his head. "Preferably troops with battle experience. But where do you propose to get such reinforcements within the next month?"

Aiwendil grimaced, "That is what I hoped you would be able to tell me. So shall I pass on this news tomorrow when we are gathered to judge the orcs, or wait until another day when tempers are cooler?"

"To be truthful, I don't know. Let us wait till tomorrow and see how things go. We may need to remind the others of the need to keep a cool head and not to split into many factions. One more thing, though, before we turn in. Aiwendil, earlier you spoke of someone overhearing your thoughts. Why did you say this? The olog-hai do not have that ability."

"I'm not sure. Only at moments I could have sworn that there was a mind, a great mind, pressing against my own, almost willing me into submission. That is when I decided to lay hidden and not draw attention to myself even by a stray thought. No, I find it hard to believe that any olog-hai could do that. I am not sure. Perhaps it was only my imagination. Sitting in the middle of a camp of gigantic stone creatures is not good for the nerves. But still, if it is possible that there is a greater force directing these olog-hai, then that force might have the gift of reading thoughts as well as other magical abilities."

"But who could do this?" Lindir prodded.

"I do not know, and you can probably make a guess as good as mine.... There are a few of Sauron's friends who were never accounted for."

"The Mouth of Sauron?" Lindir asked in a flat, dead voice.

"Yes, or perhaps one of the two istari who disappeared in the East and were never heard from again. I hope this is not so for then we would face an even greater fight. Let's handle one problem at a time. Let's figure out how to deal with this handful of orcs before we go on to other things." With that, the Lindir and Aiwendil parted. Lindir stayed to guard the pit, while Aiwendil found a spot to turn in for the few short hours that remained before sunrise.

Last edited by Child of the 7th Age; 06-10-2007 at 01:19 AM.
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