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Old 11-06-2006, 12:51 PM   #1
piosenniel
Desultory Dwimmerlaik
 
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Sting Treachery of Men RPG

"Yet neither by Wolf, nor by Balrog, nor by Dragon, would Morgoth have achieved his end, but for the treachery of Men."

~~~

For the first year since the Battle of Sudden Flame, it felt as if spring had repelled the pitiless touch of the north, as if the Earthqueen’s power had pervaded Beleriand after a long estrangement. The pair of riders upon iron-grey mounts forded the rivulets off the Gelion, careered through the meadows succoured by the waters beyond its banks, and cut swift, leafy paths through copses.

Only one indication of the danger that this temporary idyll still risked could be discerned – the speed which the riders maintained. It spoke of urgency and intensity. There was something insatiable about the journey of the two Elves, as if even the spans of their lives were limited after all, as if bare months of this vitality remained to be enjoyed, raced through, swigged to their dregs. And so, as it turned out, it came to pass.

But such reflections are suitable only for melancholic lays, for sad dreamers who hope that thinking of the past and lamenting it may bring it back again. Lachrandir, Knight of the Dispossessed, formerly of Thargelion, was no dreamer; and this was not a memory of the past, rather a duty of the present. He galloped on, his eyes on his path, his hands calm and inert at his side, belying the frenetic activity that gripped the messenger and the stallion that bore him. In lieu of a saddle-bag – for his was a high-blooded beast, and he did not presume to sully it with harness and reins, instead riding bareback in the usual Elven fashion – he bore a leather haversack slung across his back; its contents, carefully arranged, did not make a sound or apparently jostle at all on the journey.

The same could not quite be said of the other rider’s burden. There was a strange symmetry about the pair of mounted travellers and their steeds; for they were much of the same stamp in colouring and feature – the Elves dark haired and long-limbed, the horses pale - but one rider and his horse were younger and smaller, with a combination of impetuosity and hesitance that called to mind apprentices before their masters. A jangle of metal now rang out from this younger Elf’s bundle.

“I told you, Tathren, to be careful with the silver,” Lachrandir hectored at him. “We’re riding to a country where nine Men in ten have never seen a coin before; a country still wild and far from tamed with law. The summons we carry is of vital importance, boy; we can’t let it go astray due to some adan thug’s excitement over a glint of...”

“Sorry,” the other said, sounding a little crestfallen.

“Never mind, boy, it’s of little importance. But don’t let it happen again, Tathren.”

Lachrandir gave a short look back at his companion before resuming his watch on the road, spurring his stallion to a slightly higher pace. He has something of his uncle about him, I suppose. He’ll learn yet, he concluded to himself.

~~~

“...Forinasmuch as thou, Ulfang, called the Black, hath been accustomed to owe liege-homage, saving thy dignity amidst the tribes, to us, Caranthir, fourth son of Fëanor, rightful lord of Thargelion but for the false disseisin of the Enemy; by this and by the ties of loyalty between thy vassals and mine, thou art bidden to provide fighting men in service, to the number of seven thousand, under thine own command or under such a proxy as it pleases thee to dispatch, to meet with our own powers and those of our youngest brothers, the Lords Amrod and Amras, on the twenty-seventh day of the month of May; this army being dispatched, under the lordship of our eldest brother Maedhros, Lord of Himring, to avenge upon the Enemy the grievous and perfidious hurts that he hath inflicted. For amongst these art listed the slaying traitorly of our sire and grandsire, the ruin of our realms in the north, and the unlawful withholding of the Silmarilli, greatest work upon Arda, that our father Fëanor crafted, and that we hath sworn, on pain of the Everlasting Darkness, to regain. So it is ordained on this, the eleventh day of April. And we hath sworn, once having raised up this great Union of Maedhros, never to abandon it, and charge thee to swear likewise.”

Such was the main part of the missive of Caranthir, which Lachrandir carried.

~~~

“Lachrandir!” Tathren cried with gladness. “I see smoke rising not far off among homesteads, surrounding a great hall, hewn of oak and ash...”

“I have seen it too, pup,” Lachrandir answered, smiling. “Do not think that my sight is so greatly shadowed by age and toil. That is the rude dwelling of Ulfang, Chieftain of the Southern Easterlings. What do you think of it, lad?”

“Well...” Tathren started, his brow creasing and lips twisting as he tried to find the words. Lachrandir laughed, and his mirth, coming from such a stern visage, was surpassingly bright and clear.

“Well, exactly. I hope you weren’t expecting much in the way of hospitality...this is no Hithlum, Tathren, and it is no Hador Goldenhead who rules it. Put all you have seen and heard of the Edain from your head! This is Easterling country,” Lachrandir murmured, his smile thin now, “and it is another state of affairs altogether.”

They paused in thought for a few moments. Tathren was the first to speak.

“Stop dawdling, Uncle! Don’t you know the summons we carry is of vital importance?”

“Mind that minstrel’s glib tongue, you,” Lachrandir replied. And I’m not your uncle either; he was a better Elf than I’ll ever be, even if he did charge me with looking after you, young wastrel.

“Very well. Race me, boy,” he added, kicking his horse into a run and charging after the tiny stockade and palisade walls that beckoned in the distance. After a short while the envoy and his page bid their steeds halt in front of the gate into the settlement. As they passed, they had seen the first Ulfings of their journey, who had stared at the towering, fair-featured strangers bearing the star of Fëanor on their tunics in curiosity mixed with no little fright. The guards, too, goggled as they shuffled the gates open. Tathren quickly assumed an air of composure, though he rode tentatively, all too aware that he, an Elf far from mature, towered almost a foot over most of the Ulfings.

In such a manner the envoys reached their journey’s conclusion, passing under the wall where the two banners, Ulfang’s claw and Fëanor’s star on their black field, shifted together in the April breeze.


--- Anguirel
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