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Old 01-22-2007, 05:34 PM   #333
Child of the 7th Age
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Post for Lindir and Carl

Reaching the section of the grove where Carl and Dirand were fighting proved more difficult than Lindir had originally envisioned. The ground was so littered with battle debris that the elf found himself clambering around fallen bodies and the discarded remains of broken weapons. More than once, he stopped to ward off an assault. While the number of slavers fighting was much smaller than earlier in the day, those who remained were pushing their attack near the entrance to the grove and were pouring into the sheltered area where the women and children had hidden. Plus, the knot of combatants crammed into the small grove made it difficult for anyone to push through the crowds.

By the time Lindir reached the spot where he had first seen the two fighting, Carl and Dirand were scuttling about on foot. Two of the slavers lay dead on the ground. With a manner almost as graceful as any Elf, Carl had managed to glide up to the skittish mare and, by using a soft hand and voice, calm her enough that the pair could remount. Yet before they could gain a secure seat in the saddle, the third slaver had come galloping up with a sharp glaive tacked onto a long pole. He waved this threateningly under Carlís nose. Dirandís wild whacks with the sword came up short of his target, while the hobbit had to pull back abruptly on the reins to swing the animal around to avoid the slashing menace of the broad knifelike blade. With a mighty heave, the slaver aimed the glaive directly at Carlís left shoulder. The blade glanced off, but ran down the length of the hobbitís forearm, leaving a shallow gash marked by a thin trail of blood.

Lindir had sprinted the last stretch of ground and came within fifteen feet of the pikeman just as the latter was howling in satisfaction at having scored at least a minor victory. Ripping out his bow and putting two arrows to the string in quick succession, the elf let go of his shots one after the other. The first whizzed by within a hairís breadth of the manís head; the second barely grazed the horseís flanks and caused him to whirl about in pain, changing the direction of his attack. Man and horse took off at a gallop, heading straight for the grove where the women and children were running about in panic. Lindir glanced over his shoulder at Carl and gestured with his hand to show they needed to head in that direction.

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Post for Aiwendil

The boar had chased the slaver far out on the plain until he had lost the human scent. At that point Aiwendil stopped for a moment and gazed up at the dark night sky, half expecting to glimpse a gigantic flying beast silhouetted against the empty heavens. But the wyrm was nowhere to be seen. Nor could he sense the presence of any prey close enough to hunt or even a small patch of vegetation for a quick snack. Hungry and irritated, the istar let the boar form slip away, morphed into the familiar guise of an elderly man wearing long brown robes, and began trudging back to where he had left his friends. Even in man form, his stomach continued to complain. Moreover, Aiwendil was embarrassed at having chased the slaver for such a long time without actually catching him. He was at least five miles away from camp. The fighting would likely be over by the time he had returned to the point where heíd started.

His original path had led him several miles north and east of the battle site into a territory that was strange to him. Behind his back were the shadowy peaks of the Mountains of Shadow that curved down from the north on either side of the entrance of the Plateau of Gorgoroth. The ground was littered with rocks and debris. He walked quickly and steadily southward, as his mind replayed several of the earlier battle scenes and wondered whether they should have done things differently. Aiwendil was so engrossed in these questions that he almost failed to notice the steady, rhythmic vibration of the soil beneath his feet, as if a great distant army was on the move.

Plopping down on the ground to rest for a moment, the old man finally awoke to his danger. The earth throbbed with the tramp of heavy footsteps, regular and even and definitely heading towards him. He flattened his body behind a large boulder and waited. Closer and faster the vibrations came until they were nearly upon him.

Afraid to lift up his head too far, Aiwendil remained prone, but could make out the words that were being tossed back and forth between those who now marched only fifteen feet away. It was the Black Speech: the pure Black Speech that Sauron spoke at the height of his power. Orcs did not speak like that. They used slang and often mixed in words from Westron. The only creatures who talked in this manner were the wraiths and spirits within Sauronís inner circle, plus a chosen few of the enemy who had been taught language and twisted lore by the Dark Lord himself. Aiwendil felt a cold chill pass through his body.

Determined to get a closer look, the istar inched his body upward and was surprised to find that this was no army. It had not been the number of marchers but their size and scale that had caused the earth to shake. There were five shadow creatures encased in hard scales with forms that were taller and heavier than any Elf or Uruk that the old man had ever seen. These giants carried battle hammers in their claw like grips. Each member of the hunting party bore two or three animal carcasses slung haphazardly over his shoulder. As the last of the party tramped by and vanished in the distance, Aiwendil saw with sickening certainty that two human bodies hung casually amid the trophies.

So discouraged was the old man that he could not even bear to utter the words of Black Speech by which these monsters were called. At the same time, he tried to convince himself that this could not be happening. Gandalf had reported that, once released from Sauronís control, these vile and cunning creatures had scattered mindlessly, wandering off without direction. Yet the members of this party clearly knew where they were going and, from the few words of the Black Speech that the old man could make out, expected to join an even larger group of cohorts in the north. Worst of all, if these were the same creatures that had terrorized Mordor in the late Third Age, their home lay in the exact spot where the fellowship and rebels had planned to establish a settlement: the foothills of the mountains within the Plateau of Gorgoroth. Right now, exhausted and battle weary, neither he nor anyone else from their own camp would dare to give chase and challenge them. But one thing was certain: if the freed slaves and fellowship continued on to the foothills, the two groups would eventually collide. With a long sigh, Aiwendil continued his slow trudge back to the sport where his friends were fighting, wondering how and when he would break this news to Lindir.

Last edited by Child of the 7th Age; 01-30-2007 at 01:10 AM.
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