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Old 07-03-2006, 05:08 PM   #25
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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Nogrod has passed beneath the Argonath.Nogrod has passed beneath the Argonath.Nogrod has passed beneath the Argonath.Nogrod has passed beneath the Argonath.Nogrod has passed beneath the Argonath.Nogrod has passed beneath the Argonath.
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The time spent at the caves had felt like an eternity because everything was new and different. There were lots of things to do and no one could have said that they had been idling around, but still it was not like working full hours at the plantation. It was something they did for themselves, not to any Easterling lord or someone else. And there were no orcs with their whips and iron boots. Even if they lived in hiding and their conditions were possibly even rougher than they had been in the barracks, Hadith had enjoyed his freedom to the fullest.

And he had already learned some new things. A lot of them indeed. This Khamir, who seemed to Hadith to be something like a leader amongst the group of fifteen that had found them, had come with another man, Beloan, to pick up the healthy males who were over twelve and under thirty the next day. All twelve of them were first checked and questioned through. Then they had been taken in pairs to follow Beloan, one pair a day, to learn the basics from setting traps to hunting deer. They had also been instructed for guarding duties.

Not all of them had made it to the end of the training, but most of them had. Hadith was one of them. He was a little proud of the fact that he had been trusted on the night guard on six nights already. He had also managed to fare somewhat well in hunting. He had killed one deer by himself. It had been a hunting party of four, but he was the one to kill that deer. His traps had produced just a few squirrels, so there he would have something to learn still. But the one thing he was really proud of was one net-trap he had been setting with Beloan. They had managed to catch a total of 41 little birds from one single tree. And Beloan had praised his handiness afterwards. He really treasured those praises.

On the second day of their march he suddenly noticed that this strange woman, Johari, was walking beside him. He had taken note of her a couple of times during their stay at the caves. Mostly she spent time on her own and when not, she was easily drawn into rows. But there was something in her face that had made Hadith more curious than scornful, as most of the others seemed to be towards her.

“Rather insular bunch, aren’t they?” she commented suddenly to him. She had indicated two ex-slaves of the Khamir’s group walking closest to them. “I’d like to know what makes them so much tougher than the rest of us.”

Hadith was about to jump in praising them and their greatness, but at the last moment when the burst of words were already on his tongue, he realised the real question. To that he had no immediate answer. He coughed a bit to conceal his embarassment, only carefully glancing towards Johari. She looked at him with keen dark eyes.

Hadith was wrestling with his ideas. They were tougher than the newly escaped, but why? They know things, they manage things, they are independent and self-relying, they don’t have to ask for everything, they make decisions... but why? He was confused.

But then he remembered when he had been on guard the first night after being instructed on it. He had been afraid of every sinlge sound that came from outside their camp – even of those that came from inside. Every crack of a branch or small whistle of the wind had made his blood froze and he had wanted to run back and ask Beloan what to do. With six nights of experience he was already very confident in the thing. He knew things, he managed them, he was independent with them and relied on his self in it so as not to feel any need to ask anyone. And he could make decisions concerning his night watch – when to check and when just leave be.

His view of his own skills might have been overtly optimistic and groundless, but nevertheless, he felt so.

“I think it is because they have lived free so much longer than we have and they have gotten used to things” he answered to Johari quite enthusiastically. “And you know what?” he turned to meet Johari’s face, his eyes gleaming with passion that was aroused by his own ideas: “We will be like them one day!”
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