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Old 01-31-2007, 11:36 AM   #338
Hilde Bracegirdle
Relic of Wandering Days
 
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Join Date: Dec 2002
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Carl and Dirand rode off in the direction Lindir indicated, following the slaver’s horse toward the grove. And as he renewed his grip on the reins, Carl’s forearm burned mightily, but he kept his eyes fixed on the black horse in front of him as it reappeared between a large stone and the scrub brush, arching its way through the chaotic landscape. In pursuit, the borrowed mount amazed its ungainly riders, closing the distance with sure footed agility, so that the hobbit fancied the beast’s own heart were set on defeating the slavers. But in truth the horse was accustomed to hunting men, and had been trained to it, becoming well-versed in what was required to follow such wily prey.

Unfortunately, neither the old man Dirand, nor Carl had the benefit of such training themselves, and poor slavers they would have made. For when the horse in front of him suddenly leapt into the air in order to clear the rambling bushes, Carl was horrified to see a knot of cowering children directly in front of him, held captive there in a heavily tangled net. He closed his eyes and pushed his heels down, leaning forward to take hold of the blowing mane, as his own horse jumped over them. At the same instant he felt Dirand slide off the horse behind him, followed by a chorus of shrill cries. Then there was a sharp jolt as the horse found the ground again, and the hobbit too, fell from the saddle.

Bruised, but in one piece, Carl stood up to find that he had fallen next to the body of an older woman. ”Brenna,” he exclaimed in disbelief, “Aw mercy ...not Gwennith too!” he said, feeling it as a blow to his heart. And as his focus widened, he saw that the small grove was strewn with bodies, and the fighting continued. Carl quickly knelt beside Brenna and her two companions, hoping to find some sign of life in them, but they were already blanched white, and it was rapidly apparent that he should tend to the living.

Getting up once more, Carl ran to the other side of the brush where Dirand was trying to free the children from the net with one hand. He wore a grimace on his face as he hacked away at the plant with his sword, his other arm dangling limply at his side. “Careful with that sword there man!” Carl said. “Are you all right?”

“I've done something to my arm, Carl, and it hurts like nothing I've known. Can you get these youngsters out for me? I can't manage it,” Dirand pleaded, handing the hobbit his sword. Carl took the took it from him, but quickly set it aside, asking to see the old man's arm. He could clearly see that it had been pushed out of joint at the shoulder, and so taking it he pulled, twisting it carefully until he heard it pop back in it's place.

“Your sure to be sore after that one, but a lucky man you are that you didn't break it!” the hobbit said taking his belt and quickly tying Dirand's arm to his chest. Together then, they both finished cutting the net free, releasing the children, who looked to them for direction. But Carl didn't know what to tell them.

“Go lay on the ground near the stones, and play like you are dead. Don't move and don't speak,” Dirand instructed them. “Not until the fighting is done. And watch out for the horses!” the old man added, as an after thought. Carl realized grimly that if he and all of his companions were dead or captured, these poor children would inevitably be discovered by the slavers. But neither could they fend for themselves in this rough land, so fleeing was as good as a slow death, and Dirand's advice was sound. But how many might already be scattered out on the plain?

The wide-eyed children did as they were told, and the hobbit and the old man ran to enter the grove again, were the fighting was thick. Five slavers and the riderless horses were milling about the small space as old and young alike sought to rout them.

Carl was dismayed to see that Dorran was down. But Lindir, who had made it back safely had reached him, and was carrying him away. And spotting a particular fight quickly going sour, as a strong young man was expertly drawn away from the others and cornered with his back to a rock, Dirand and Carl quickly joined the fray, plaguing the rider's horse, so when it reached around trying to bite them, the man was able to extricate himself. Together the three of them followed that horse, as the slaver turned to join the others, and where the slaver that Carl and Dirand had chased, was now yelling something roughly to the others, in a language Carl could not understand.

Last edited by Hilde Bracegirdle; 02-03-2007 at 11:28 AM.
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