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Old 10-20-2006, 06:05 PM   #236
Flame of the Ainulindalë
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Hadith (and Joshwan)

Hadith had been following the discussion with keen ears. But he was even more taken by the new feeling he got from the gang of escapees. Something was different now, very different. There was the fear as there had been and even the quiet murmur towards the Fellowship hadn’t totally died. But it was something else. A resoluteness, a dedication, something he couldn’t describe to himself. Somehow all were listening, sharing a common focus.

Then someone spoke again. It was someone who hadn’t yet spoken but sat on the inner ring unlike Hadith who had carefully slipped to the second row. He turned his head to identify the familiar-sounding speaker. It was Joshwan.

“I have sailed the seas for years before I was caught by the slave-hunters and taken to a plantation. I know a lot of tricks one can do when waterborne, but I’ve had my part of fighting on land too, being the underdog most of the times. To my experience this looks pretty challenging to say the least.” Joshwan made a pause and looked at both the elf and the Rohanian rider. “My name is Joshwan and I come from Umbar. I’ve been a soldier of fortune most of my life, the one you call a pirate, but that’s not what I call myself. I am a Fortune’s soldier.” Joshwan gazed sharply around to the others around him in the inner ring of people to underline his words.

“But let’s look at our landscape. Slowly rolling and dull hills with only this hay that has dried yellow all around us. Yes, we might dig a ditch for their horses to tumble into, but how do we hide the ditches without a lattice structure made from some young trees or good branches of older ones? Or the basic rope tricks then? We can’t get a rope high enough to fall the riders but neither have we any aids to bear the brunt of the impact if we try to stumble the horses. Maybe twenty strong men at the each end of the rope could take the blow of the rushing horses, but where do you hide forty men here still hoping the enemy to ride straight between them?” Joshwan shrugged.

“It’s nice to speak of wittiness and traps but we should actually come up with some real ideas that are both working and doable... All we seem to have in abundance here is this dry grass and it’s not the best of weapons against seasoned fighters on horseback.” He broke a grass in two and then threw the parts away.

What Joshwan said sounded reasonable and thence depressing. Hadith was brought down from his emerging confidence very abtruptly and violently. All this talk of tricks had sounded so easy and assuring but if what Joshwan said was right, they were back to the square one. And if these people on the Fellowship had only vague ideas, who would then have the real solutions?

Hadith picked a grass and twisted it around his fingers. Not much of a weapon... isn’t there anything we could do with these?

“Couldn’t we do something with all this hay? Burning it or something?” Hadith asked, basically just saying it to himself, but it was quiet enough for most of the people around him to actually hear it. Hadith realised the situation in an instance and blushed, starting to mumble an apology. But Beloan cut in.

“As I agree with the points Joshwan has presented, I can’t share his pessimism. But with you Hadith I think it is the other way around. I strongly share your optimism, but probably not your point. How could we be helped by lighting the ground on fire? You know, the fire burns the good and the bad alike.” There was no contempt in his voice or in his gaze that drilled deep into Hadith’s mind. To Hadith it felt more like a father correcting his beloved son for making hasty and stupid suggestions. But he was ashamed, so ashamed. He would hold his mouth from now on, he really would.

“Just wait a minute here! I may not be so pessimistic you think I am, Beloan. And the boy might actually have a seed of wisdom here.” It was Joshwan again, and he was smiling to Hadith! A boy! Hadith wasn’t sure how to take it. Somehow he had started to think of himself as something else than just a boy with this group, but in a way Joshwan spoke the truth. He was a man but Hadith was a boy. That was exactly what he was and now he had been shown his place.

“We might pack the hay in tight bunches, using some string to make them hold, a size of a big head or something. And we could make a lot of them... a hundred at least...” Joshwan was clearly getting animated with his idea. “When they come near enough us if we have no other tricks to use on them – or to those who have been left around the fire to make the last stand if we have other ideas too – we could alight them and throw them at the slavers. This grass is so dry that it will burst in flame in seconds. We have just time to throw them before the fire really gets wild. Just think how their horses will react to a hundred balls of fire thrown at them from a short range and out of the blue? We might then have a lot of unsaddled slavers in our hands, hopefully stunned or at least disoriented for a few moments.”

Hadith was thinking about a hundred fireballs flying in the darkness of a night... It looked awesome.

Last edited by Nogrod; 10-20-2006 at 06:45 PM.
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