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Old 07-03-2004, 05:48 PM   #41
Sarin Mithrilanger
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Zuromor had been looking for additional weaponry when he was alerted by Grash's screams. He quickly whirled about to see what was wrong. As he did so he saw an orc running towards the gate. Zuromor ran as fast as he could towards the orc and saw a woman in the orc's path. She had managed to slow him down but had been tossed aside. It seemed the orc might be getting away and Zuromor had to do something

As he ran after the orc he saw a dagger protruding from the back of an orc just ahead. He stooped low as he neared the downed orc and ripped out the dagger while he ran. He hefted it a few times and then he threw the dagger with all his might. The orc ran just outside the gate as the dagger seemed to stop in mid-air for a moment before falling back down to earth. The orc had escaped.
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Old 07-04-2004, 12:37 PM   #42
Amanaduial the archer
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Silmaril Raeis

The female elf walked ahead of Morgoroth, the stairs not being wide enough for two to safely walk abreast, three long knives held in one fist, protruding like metal claws from her hands, a sword in the other, and the elven sword in it's sheath tucked carefully under her arm. She wondered at Morgoroth though - he would search all of Cirith Ungol to find one knife, if it were possible, and then would leave happy. All it would take would be a length of steel branded with a few careful marks, and he would be happy. Raeis barely remembered the love of weapons she had had in her past life, the existence in Mirkwood whose reality she was unsure of - not being a warrior she had not had regular use of them, but had been skilled with bow or sword in practise, loving the feel of the metal warming beneath her hands, the silver sound made when she spun a sword through the air or loosed an arrow... Since then though, all she had known of weapons had marred that love, as the hatred borne by their wielders destroyed her features and her life.

So it was gingerly that she held the weapons in her hands: the careful wariness of one meeting a dear, lifelong friend who had betrayed the other, now coming back with a promise of help.

Reaching the top of the stairs, Raeis looked around with a furtiveness created by habit. Seeing no one there, her heart jumped inside her - abandoned?!

"Hai?!" Looking about, she called softly for anyone else.

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Old 07-04-2004, 03:50 PM   #43
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The Eye Jordo

Climbing long winding stairs, Jordo found his mind winding and twisting with them. It wandered from the cold stone walls that surrounded him, finding peace of mind in doing something. Each stair was something to do; it kept him moving, and so kept his brain focused on something simple. The simplicity of doing work was all that Jordo knew to be peaceful. Suddenly he found himself staring down at his hands. They were held out before him because they had nothing better to do. He allowed himself to actually take interest in the fact that they were not being controlled by a hard hand and a stinging whip, forced to do work and watched closely as they did their best to comply. It seemed that his hands were finally able to move freely. He smiled slightly, feeling happy for them. Sharing in some kind of joy, his mind got lost in a strange warmth, and he didn't bother to find his way out of it.

Then all of a sudden he found he had reached the top of the stairs, and he looked up. But too late. His body hit something warmer and softer than the chilling walls around him, and his face was covered by long, soft blonde hair for a moment before he stepped quickly back down a step. The elf whirled around, a long knife at the ready. He had not made a sound when Jordo suddenly bumped into his back, but the man now squeaked in surprise and fear. Morgoroth had gotten a safe distance from his supposed assailant and been prepared to kill before Jordo could even let out a frightened yelp.

The elf sighed, partially in relief, but mostly in exasperation, as he saw who he had been prepared to kill. Jordo had trouble meeting those dark green eyes. The quiet pressure made him look down at the floor and fidget with the helm that was in his hands as he had not liked the feel of looking through those makeshift slits for eyes. His mind began to feel that he was looking out through someone else’s eyes, and hoped only that they were not menacing yellow slits. A shiver ran down his spine, and a tingling spanned his skin. He did not like the feel of this crude leather armor on his bare skin, either.

The man glanced up quickly, and though the eyes were not frightening or unfriendly, he knew that there had to be some kind of punishment awaiting him. He had done something wrong. The focus on him made him feel that he was in an unwelcome, unwanted position. He wanted the eyes to ignore him again, wanted them to leave him alone.

“Be alert, Jordo. And remain close behind.”

Morgoroth suddenly turned, and ran to the corner at the end of the hall. Jordo followed as quickly as he could, but was careful not to run into the elf this time, as he stopped abruptly to look down the next hall. He let out a heavy sigh once more.

“She is not there. Let us hope she has only gotten ahead of us.”

The elf began to run again, and Jordo did his best to obey Morgoroth’s former instructions. “Come. Quickly.” And the man did his best to comply with these, as well.

Last edited by Durelin; 07-04-2004 at 08:33 PM.
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Old 07-05-2004, 07:38 AM   #44
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White Tree Rhând

His forehead was covered in sweat and so was the rest of his body. Still running after the orc, he realised that the armour, which was heavier than first expected, slowed him down. Long ahead, he watched one of the women trying desperately to stop the orc, but naturally she failed. As he ran along, more slowly for each step, he felt the bit from the rat giving him repeatedly the feeling of being on fire. Clenching his teeth, not wanting to seem weak, he ran on trying to catch up with one of the others.

If you cannot run faster than this, how do you expect to win the first prize? If you cannot even show them that you are strong, how can you later convince them? If you cannot even make useful friendships now, how can you ever? If you cannot even throw your blade at the orc ahead of you, and thereby gain trust amongst these pathetic prisoners, how will you gain it? If you cannot even manage this, how do you expect to get away from them? If you cannot even make yourself useful now, how can you when you return to Him?

Not being able to runmore, he dropped dead and fell to his knees. Not wanting to admit that his health situation had altered while being imprisoned, he put all his effort into rising again. One . . . two . . . three . . . he counted, frowning. Knowing for certain that his future, (if he had any), depended on this; his will, he got up. He would pretend as nothing had happened. It was true, what the voice in his head had said; how could he later convince them that he was strong, if he was nearly dying now? If anyone of them had seen him, he would say that he had tripped or that the air of the Land of Darkness made him sick.

Rising his head, his nostrils being filled with new air, he saw to his despair the orc running through the gate. It wouldn't matter if he couldn't walk much further. Their journey would be very short. With this in mind, Rhând knew that he could either pretend as they were getting out anyway, trying to convince them by doing something which indicated that he was still up for it, or he could suit himself and go back to his cell where he would probably stay for thirteen more months if he didn't die before that time had passed. Considering that latter for a while, he questioned himself: would he survive long enough to get another chance of escaping, or would this be his first and only chance?

Last edited by Novnarwen; 07-05-2004 at 10:13 AM.
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Old 07-05-2004, 07:56 AM   #45
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Grash’s heart fell as he saw the orc disappear through the arch and down the Road that none of them could follow. He cursed their luck and swore in the BlackTongue. “Thrack! Granka-rûk slog búraz nratal!” He whirled about to where Aldor stood and began indicating that he should go back into the cellars. “Go, go,” he said, “must be gone. Must be gone soon. Gather food, gather water – no more time, no more time.” He turned to where Zuromor was standing, crestfallen by his failure to stop the monster. He rushed to his side and seized him by the arm, pulling him frantically toward the inner doors. “Come, come” he urged. “Orcs will know now. Know we are gone.”

Zuromor delicately removed himself from the grasping hands of the smaller man and looked at him sternly. “I understand our situation,” he said. Grash turned then to the women. He had been surprised and impressed by Darash’s display of courage and skill, and as he beheld her now it was with new eyes. He moved to where she stood and addressed her with greater reverence than he had with either Aldor or Zuromor. “Come. Must gather food, must gather water. Must leave now. Orc will bring more orcs.” He knew that she could not understand him, so he pointed to the cellar doors and indicated with hand gestures that they needed food. He turned also to the Easterner woman. He did not know what tongue she spoke so he tried both the Black Speech, and his fragmented version of the Common Tongue, bidding her in both to return to the cellars. The two women regarded him coldly, with hostility even, and he resisted the urge to take hold of them, as he had done with both Zuromor and Aldor. It struck him for the first time that there was something oddly familiar about each of them, and although he was in a near panic to get them moving, he allowed himself the brief luxury of examining their faces. The Easterner had the look of a hunted being – it was one that he knew well, having grown up with it on all sides. But there remained yet a streak of iron in her gaze, particularly when she looked upon himself or the other Men, although he fancied that perhaps she was somewhat less wary toward him. The other, Darash, was an altogether different matter. Her height and beauty suited her, as did her bearing which was – if Grash had known the words to put to his feelings – regal. She regarded him with pride, but it was the hauteur of one who was in total control of herself, and who was used to exercising command over others. Recognition of this was a shock to Grash, who to this point had associated the idea of authority only with the whip and the iron hand of the orc. It had never occurred to him that there might be another way to command. This was a mystery to him, but apparently not to Darash. It both awed and, at the same time, scared him a little. He almost bowed to her as he spoke once more, this time attempting to project deference. “Come, come. To the cellars. Food and water, then we go.”

He saw that the women understood and was delighted when then appeared to comply, joining the Men as they moved back into the cellars of the Tower. But not all the Men were going back underground, for Aldor was once more at Grash’s side. “I have sent the three Dwarves with the others,” he said, “they seemed happy to be together again. But what of the others? Where are the Elves and the other slave?”

Grash looked about the courtyard but of course they were not there. He then looked up at the Tower looming above them, as did Aldor. “Thrack!” Grash cursed once more. He turned to Aldor, “Go. Get others to gather food and water. I find Elves, bring them down.”

Without waiting for a response he headed for the Tower, but as he began to climb the stairs he heard a foot upon the steps behind him. Looking back he saw that Aldor had followed him. Aldor smiled. “We must not split up too much in here,” he explained. “There might be more enemies about.” Grash nodded and accepted Aldor’s company, for what he said made good sense. Perhaps Aldor would be a good person to have at his side, after all.

Last edited by Fordim Hedgethistle; 07-05-2004 at 11:54 AM.
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Old 07-07-2004, 04:36 AM   #46
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The Cellar

The two dwarves, upon meeting with Grash in the tower, began to make their way down into the depths of Cirith Ungol. Victuals were the company's next concerns, and would prove to be more difficult to locate than weapons and armor had been. Neither dwarf had any idea where the "kitchen" could be found, if one existed at all. Orcs were sustained by the same foods as other beings, but were fed on far less appealing fare; and who knew where it was kept. "There must be storerooms somewhere," said Dwali as they tramped along the dimly-lit hallway. "Probably down in a pit somewhere, like everything else."

The dwarf's first statement, (the more optomistic of the two, surprisingly), turned out to be the correct one. They soon arrived at a door, which was apparently locked. "Not a problem," stated a confident Brór, who raised his mace and brought it down on the lock. It virtually shattered, and Dwali moved to enter the room. But the door would not budge.

"Must be locked from the inside," muttered Brór. Then suddenly, they both arrived at the same inevitable conclusion; for if the door was barred from the inside, an enemy waited within. Or more than one, perhaps, but the warriors cared not; they wished more for revenge than feasting and wine. The entrance was blocked by thick wood, but steel would prove the victor; as Dwali's axe quickly made several cuts through the door. Brór backed up, and hurled himself forward, but the gate only shook. Then the younger dwarf took a few steps away, turned, and with a look of rage so deep and agonizing that it penetrated every figment of his being, charged it. The door virtually flew off of its hinges, and collapsed onto the floor inside the chamber.

The dwarves stepped inside the room slowly, crouched and expecting a wave of resistence to leap out at any given moment. But nothing came, and they soon began to look for other things besides orcs. "This must be the storeroom," stated Dwali triumphantly. Sure enough, sacks of food and skins of water were lined up along the wall; sadly, there would not be quite enough for the entire company's journey out of Morder. At least, not a journey without hunger.

"We will have to make several trips," said Brór. "And find out how much Grash wants to take with us. It may weigh down the group out in the mountains, if we ever do manage to leave this tower." They were turning to go, laden with several heavy packs, when Dwali was heaved forward; landing on his face with a heavy sack on top of his already weakened frame. Brór dropped his burdens and swung out his mace, watching a small orc circle him with blades at ready. The dwarf charged, and achieved surprise as he knocked away the orc's longer scimitar. But the creature, knowing that he stood no chance against the larger and more ferocious opponent, turned a ran.

Suddenly, an axe flashed up from the ground like an old-fashioned trap; burying itself deep in the orc's chest. A mace also connected with the fleeing beast, and its head landed on the floor several paces away. Dwali tugged his weapon out and stood, patting Brór on the shoulder. "I guess we both got our revenge, friend." As if in agreement, a loud rumbled shook the chamber. Exchanging strange looks, the dwarves hefted their packs and exited the room without another word; making for the meeting place.

Last edited by Himaran; 07-08-2004 at 07:43 AM.
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Old 07-08-2004, 05:12 AM   #47
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Boots

She stood watching the man Grash race upstairs to collect the others. Not again had he derided her about the food and water. She nodded to herself: he could learn. He has native cunning, she decided, for he was sharp like the leopard. And he had understood the disaster of the orch getting away and was trying to move them all quickly. Perhaps she could work with him after all. This other long pig, though, the one called "Ahldhor"--trying out his name in her mind--she did not like him. Shiftless like carrior-eaters.

Darash. Darash. This name she tried out in her mind as well. He had called her this before, she remembered. Kwenye drasa she said to herself, breathing deeply and feeling her shoulder sore where she had fallen on it. She stretched out her arms, feeling the sensation of the break in her bones even though now mended. She wondered if he knew these words, or why else had he taken them for her name? Darash she said again to herself. It will do; she would answer to it.

"Leshkiya," she called aloud to the other woman, trying out the name she had heard. The woman looked into her eyes and understood. They began to call to the others to return immediately to the cellar, to bring their weapons and clothes.

The orch had escaped, he would tell others they were free. They must hurry, she thought, as she and Lyshka and the others found the storeroom where Grash had directed them. She looked over the foods, sniffing jars and touching loaves which were not very different from the foods they had fed her in the cell. She packed some away but refused to taste the water she found in bottles and large kegs. It smelt of iron, like a spear after being fired in flame. This was the water she had seen the orc drink which deranged their minds even more. This she would not touch. She took an empty leather flask, for she would fill it with fresh water once they had found a river.

They had even less time now to escape. But the others, these strange people, the tall ones and the short ones, they were forgetting their purpose. She shook her head and called out to all the slaves who were assembled in the cellar and then she even risked calling out up the stairs. "Harrree, harrree," she commanded. "Leevah." It was the first time she had ever used words of their language on her tongue. It felt strange but refreshing, like the herb limbaya at home. She would learn more of this language, she decided.

If they were able to escape. She waited impatiently for Grash to return with the others.
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Old 07-08-2004, 06:34 AM   #48
Fordim Hedgethistle
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Grash was only two or three turns up the stairs when he found the Elves. They were speaking to one another in their own language, and though he could not understand their words, the very sound of their conversation gave him an odd kind of comfort. For a moment he was almost able to forget the terror and panic that had come over him in the wake of the orc’s escape, and he stood frozen before them. The male turned ageless eyes upon him and did not speak, and in that moment Grash felt as though he were a child again. He shivered, and the calming thoughts few from his mind, for this feeling reminded him of the one thing that all people knew of Elves – that they were immortal, and that they kept this immortality by stealing the lifeblood of others…

Aldor came up behind him as Grash spoke to the Elves. He gestured down the stairs with as much urgency as he could, saying, “Come, come, hurry. No time, no time for talking and looking. Orc has escaped, will bring others. Must go now.” For a second it appeared as though the Elves were going to ignore him but then wordlessly they began to descend. The female regarded him with a wary, questioning gaze, but he might as well have been invisible to the male Elf for all the attention that he gave the Man. Relieved that he had found them, Grash was turning to go when he noticed that other slave, Jordo, standing quietly in the shadows. Grash turned upon the Man angrily, for he needed speed from everyone. “Hurry!” he said roughly. “No time to hide. Come now or leave you here to be peeled by orcs!” Jordo’s face took on a look of genuine terror and he seemed to shrink into the wall. Grash felt a wave of emotion that he could hardly understood, for it had been long since he felt sympathy for anyone. That last time he had felt it, he had lost his mind with rage, and that is what hand landed him in the cellars. His mind went back, unbidden, to that day when the orc had attacked the slave woman. He felt once more the heft of the scythe in his hands, and the jarring crunch that came through the wood when he had severed the orc’s head… He reached out to Jordo with as comforting a gesture as he could. “Come,” he said more gently. “Come with Grash, we must go.”

Jordo seemed to relax somewhat, but his eyes moved to the Elves. The female had turned and was looking back at the Men. She waved to Jordo, who broke for her as though he were a hunted thing running from a predator to its small hole. Grash sighed; at least they were all moving in the right direction at last.

As he and Aldor followed the others down the stairs, the other Man spoke to him about the Elves in a low whisper. “I can see that you do not trust the Ageless Ones,” he said. “I’m not sure that I do either, but they are reputed to be great fighters and to have magical healing powers. I think they will be good allies in our escape. Still,” he said, as though a new thought were occurring to him, “we might do well to keep an eye on them. I’m sure they would not betray us to the Enemy, but with Elves, well, who knows? It’s said that they only really look out for themselves. They are much like the Dwarves in that, I fear.” Grash knew nothing of Elves or Dwarves, and Aldor’s words went to his heart like cold iron. He had, to this point, only been concerned with escaping the Tower and then getting by the Monster that lurked in the tunnel. It had not occurred to him that there might be dangers from within the group of prisoners…

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Novnarwen's post

Unexpectedly, a new chance for him to convince Grash was presented to Rhând. The skinny Haradrim had watched the elves (and one man) carefully as he and Grash had approached them. Two elves, both proud and some would say fair, had stood before them and looked hesitatingly at the two men for a moment. Not till after Grash had told them that they should go and meet the others, had they gone. But during those few seconds they had stood still, the look in their eyes could not be wrongly interpreted. It was clear that the elves were most hesitant towards both Rhând and Grash. Instantly, it struck the Haradrim that he could use this. It would be easy; Grash had looked the elves into their eyes himself and knew exactly how they felt.

The minute the opportunity became obvious to Rhând, he seized it. Glad that he had got another chance so soon, he restrained himself from storming to Grash’s side and tell him what he had on his mind. He made his move, putting up a serious face. He made Grash slow down for a moment, looked around being certain that not the elves were listening. Choosing his words with care, he expressed his uncertainty when it came to elves in general. "I can see that you do not trust the Ageless Ones," Rhând said, with a tone that implied that he completely understood Grash's feelings, but had clearly seen the doubt in his eyes just earlier. Discovering, to his satisfaction, that Grash seemed to listen, he hoped that he had managed to make the other freed prisoner doubt the elves even more. It would certainly pay off one day.

Just seconds later, they had gone through the courtyard. Rhând walked a few paces behind Grash now. If he was going to pull this through, he would have to be on the surface a silent man, who spoke little, but acted well. Underneath the facade, he would have to be the good friend of the leader, who Rhând guessed would be Grash, of whom he would trick and cheat. This way, he could control Grash, and through Grash he would be able to control the other ones who trusted Grash. The Elves, even though they were sceptical now, would soon be outnumbered when the dwarves turned against them. Deep in thought, still feeling quite ill after running after the orc and collapsing, he was greatly surprised when the sound of what seemed like an earthquake disturbed him. Looking around, alarmingly, he found himself trembling. The whole ground trembled.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Fordim Hedgethistle's post (cont'd)

They reached the courtyard and passed through to the stairs. When they were halfway down there came to Grash’s ears faint cries that sounded for the world like children’s voices. He paused and saw that the Elves too had heard the sounds. There then came a rending crash and splintering sound that shook the very foundations of the Tower, and the wailing of the Silent Watchers that had accompanied their every move was suddenly quieted. The silence was profound and eerie, and for a time they stood in wonder of what had happened. Grash was the first to recover himself. “Go, hurry,” he said gesturing them on. “I go and look, see if it’s more orcs.” Without waiting for a reply he rushed up the stairs and once more looked out the door. He was shocked to see that the gate lay in ruins, and that the Watchers had been thrown down. He looked hopefully at the ruin to see if there were some way through the rubble, but it was hopeless: the stonework had fallen almost straight down from above, creating a new barrier as impassable as the old. With a sigh he turned and went down the steps to the storeroom.

Grash was delighted to see that all of the prisoners were finally assembled. The Dwarves had found torches and were quickly setting them alight and passing them about. Grash seized one. He noted with equal satisfaction that the woman Darash had organised some of the slaves in gathering food and water. A quick survey of their stores, however, showed that they were going to be on short rations for the next few days. There was little food, and less water. Grash frowned at this, for he knew that there was little hope of finding water where they were going. He shrugged, for there was nothing to be done.

He turned to face the company. They were standing about in loose groups, clear and distinct in their division. The Dwarves were the most openly clannish, huddled together and heavily armed and armoured. The Elves were equally standoffish, but in their apparently sheltering shadow stood Jordo. The slaves appeared to be divided more naturally into male and female. Darash and Lyshka were standing as a pair, while Aldor, Jeren and Zuromor had gathered closest to Grash. All of them had done their best to look like orcs, and with the exception of the Elves – whose beauty could never be hidden – most had succeeded. Grash drew a deep breath before beginning. “We go now, into the tunnel, into where Monster waits and eats people. There is no turning or bend in tunnel – we go out through the Door, then straight straight straight to other side.”

“Aye,” replied one of the Dwarves, one that had armed himself with a huge mace, “but how are we to reach the other side with that Monster that eats people, just waiting for us?” There were murmurs of uncomfortable assent from the others.

Grash frowned. “Not all reach the other side,” he said with a complete lack of emotion. “Some get eaten, some do not. When orcs go through tunnels they take many orcs. Monster comes, eats three or four, sometimes more, but the rest go through. This is why Grash freed you all; could not go myself and get eaten. Now we all go, not all get eaten. For some there is escape, for others there is also escape, but not from Mordor.” He smiled at his own dark joke. “Come,” he said again. “We must go now, come!” He opened the Under Door. “Into Monster’s tunnel, go now, or stay here and wait for orcs.” Without waiting for a reply, he plunged headlong into the darkness.

Last edited by Fordim Hedgethistle; 07-08-2004 at 09:38 PM.
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Old 07-08-2004, 12:07 PM   #49
Sarin Mithrilanger
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Into the deep...

Zuromor was the first to run in after Grash. With his torch in hand he walked closely behing Grash, expecting to see some horrible beast to come bursting out of some corner and attack them. He had no idea what this monster even looked like, let alone how to get past it. All he knew was the her name was Shelob. He had heard the orcs talking about her "having her way" with some of their own. He had respected Grash for freeing them but when he had told them that he only freed them to be monster fodder, he began to distrust him. None of them knew if he worked with the enemy. He decided that he would keep a very close eye on Grash.

THe tunnel was dark and their torches barely lit the walls around them. It had an eerie glow that pierced down to the very bones. "Grash, how do you expect to live through this? You said you freed us so you would be able to leave. What if you are one of those who are eaten?"
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Old 07-08-2004, 12:48 PM   #50
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The dark, immortal elf male stood, watching, and listening, to the clamor ringing about him. Tee dwarves, clad in their iron shod, orc armor, stood together, as if this unity might save them from the death that lurked in the Tunnel. He smirked at this sight, and continued to scan the motley group that had assembled itself in the dark, dank corridor that would take them to Her. The humans had sectioned themselves off once more, but this had been foreseen. "The Race of Men will never unite..." he murmured to himself. As he continued to sweep the area with his mysterious, brooding eyes, his mind was lured to gaze into the gateway of the foreboding, pit-like entrance of the Tunnel. Thoughts of a death soon to come swept over his mind like a flood of misery and suffering. But he caught himself, and ended his dark trance prematurely. He spun around, and met the stare of his counterpart.

"It is time," he spoke, in a cold, seemingly spiteful voice. "The Tunnel awaits us, and She will welcome our presence. We should not..." He paused, searching for a distinct word for their current situation. "...Disappoint Her," he continued after his brief lapse. "Come, we go."

Morgoroth turned round yet again, and began to walk into the Tunnel entrance. Raeis followed, with Jordo not far behind her. As they made their way into the passage, the dark, creeping air swept over the trio. All around them, cobwebs of ununsual size began to make themselves known. With only a small torch to guide the way, a sense of dread soon inched its way into the minds of those within, for none knew when the Lady of the Tunnel would strike, ensnaring those hapless enough to tread in Her Tunnel.

Thoughts of death, and a bleak future for Ea, enveloped his mind, as he wandered into the narrow, almost prison-like passages. Raeis and Jordo followed closely, watching their step, for many jagged rocks and pitfalls dotted the landscape of the Tunnel. His mind wandered, as he did, from thought to thought. The atmosphere of the tunnel was not conducive to happier thoughts, only a deepening gloom was present as they made their way between the stalagmites, and tattered and torn webs of the rocky corridors. "This will prove a most interesting situation," the dark Elf muttered to himself.

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Old 07-08-2004, 02:40 PM   #51
Amanaduial the archer
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Silmaril

Durelin's post - Jordo

“Some get eaten, some do not..." those words were all Jordo's brain could handle for many moments after they were spoken. And the man who spoke them were all his eyes could see. He stared at this man named Grash, the one whom he had obeyed when the creaking of metal had announced his freedom. But now his eyes could not acknowledge the man as someone to be obeyed. His mind cringed in terror as it realized what his eyes were doing. They were defying! Only his soul was interested in what was seen. His mind disregarded it as foolishness, and a dangerous foolishness, at that. But then the movement around him brought his eyes away, and he felt his mind relax, though it remained on the alert.

He watched Grash enter this tunnel, somehow ignoring his own words completely, and entering this pit of darkness - a pit of darkness even standing so close to the fires of Mordor - which he may not exit, which no one was guaranteed to exit. Jordo of course could not see this as something to admire, if courage it was. But he would not see courage or any other trait in someone, either. Another man followed him immediately, carrying a torch. Jordo almost followed this man, carrying precious light, but then he looked at those he stood with, who he found security in obeying.

The male elf spoke in a voice that made Jordo flinch, wanting the elf to command him so that he could show that he would be good. He felt as if all the spite in Morgoroth's voice was directed to him, and it frightened him to no end. Even that man Grash did not frighten him as much as this elf with the dark hair. He missed the elf's first words, but the rest were enough. They stung him like no orc whip had ever done, choked him like no ash ridden air ever had, and chilled him so deeply, deeper than any screams of the dying. "The Tunnel awaits us, and She will welcome our presence. We should not...disappoint Her." She...he wanted to scream at the knowledge that he found in his mind, memories of orc's speaking about a 'she' who was more than a nuisance even to orc kind.

Morgoroth entered and Jordo of course followed, almost bumping into Raeis as he did. He quickly muttered an apology, and looked up from the ground into the female elf's eyes only to see her smile at him. He smiled back, recognizing those eyes. But then the recognition faded as he saw himself back in his cell, alone. Raeis was making her way into the Tunnel now, as well, and so Jordo followed. In his first few steps he already had the feeling that something was watching him, and he felt little better knowing that others were slowly finding their own reasons to enter the Tunnel.

~*~*~

Amanaduial's post - Raeis

Raeis glanced over her shoulder at Men as she hesitated on the edge of the tunnel. Despite her apparent voluntary distance from them, Raeis did not mean to deliberately alienate herself - she was not afraid, but they made her wary. There were few now who didn't, and besides, it was evident that they didn't trust her. The fear that flashed in the dark man's blue eyes and the resentment in Aldor's told the elf that much.

Turning to Jordo, she smiled slightly at the man-child. He hung back at the edge of the tunnel, fear showing unrestrainedly on his childish features as he gazed warily into the tunnel. She held out a hand tenatively to him, gesturing for him to come. After a pause of only a second, he obediently came, darting close to Raeis's side where she stood on the edge of the tunnel. She smiled at him and touched him lightly on the arm in some awkward gesture of comfort, unsure of how to reassure him - unsure even of why she felt she should reassure him, for what business did she have with him? He was a Man, like those others who hung back away from the elves, the distant mortals... But Jordo was different, obviously. His simple trust in Raeis, although he knew nothing about her, made that very clear, and it somehow reassured Raeis as well: not everything in the world automatically turned it's back on her.

"Don't speak," she whispered to him, using the Common Tongue rather haphazardly - she had begun in Sindarin, then realised he would not understand. Usually it would have been a slight to her pride to use a different tongue for the convenience of others, but she barely noticed, seeking only to make Jordo understand. Ignorance is bliss had never proved right for Raeis, certainly not in the last few years - knowledge of what you were up against was far more useful. "Keep close to the group, stay quiet. Hush hush." She held a finger to her lips like a small child's nanny and Jordo subconciously copied the gesture, bringing a stumpy digit in front of his mouth and smiling tentatively at the elf.

She nodded, then turned back to the gaping maw of the tunnel. Steeling herself and holding herself straight and proud, the young female elf took a deep breath and stepped in, feeling as if she was going underwater - and the world into which she walked was so alien that it may as well have been underwater. Cobwebs floated with eerie lightness all around them, lit ethereally at this stage by what little light filtered in from the tunnel entrance. Huge rocks lay scattered, as if merely pebbles, knocked by a careless foot, before seperating into a rat run of caves and tunnels, a weaving mouse run, a warren. But no warren was ever on such a huge scale, no cobweb ever so large, no carelessly knocked 'pebble' large enough to crush a man.

It was like stepping into a giant's lair, and suddenly, Raeis felt smaller than she ever had before, dwarfed by what was in front of her. Her eyes peered through the gloom more easily than the others, allowing her a little more vision than their poor, weak eyes afforded them, but little help it did her; for once, Raeis was quite prepared to say that knowledge made her feel no better: she suddenly wished she had no idea of what was further on in the tunnel.

The group subconciously clumped closer together, men, dwarves and elves moving slowly and fearfully, each not admitting that they needed the others but taking solace from the prescence of the others.

Like it would help when She came.

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Old 07-08-2004, 02:58 PM   #52
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Boots

There was a strange attitude amongst the members of the company. None spoke, or at least not loudly. The darkness, the smell and the whispering of the wind; could there possibly live a creature in here? Rhând listened eagerly to the sound of several pairs of feet tripping and the sound of their heavy armours as he had nothing better to do. He wondered if anyone of them realised that they might walk into something just around the corner, which could end up being their last moments; their deaths. Grash had said it himself. The Monster would kill . . .

Rhând had already decided that he would not be the one who didn't come out at the other end of the tunnel, and the other side of the Gates. He would not be the one who was eaten by a female monster, even though she was gruseome and terrible. He would not be the one who would meet his death now. Surely, a man, very much like himself, would make it out of these tunnels, even if there was a monster. With these thoughts in mind, he started preparing mentally for the inevitable.

The darkness grew with every step they took. Only the torch Grash held firmly in his hand, lit up so that they could see their path. However, as the tunnel only bent one way, they knew where to put their feet. But this was not what Rhând concerned him the most; it was not the tunnel he wanted to see clearly or the cobwebs. He wanted to see Her when she showed up. Shaking, both by the anxiety, and the pain, from the bit on his neck, going through his body, he tried focusing on watching out for anything unusual. However, it pained him and he couldn't stop thinking about it. When touching it, he felt a huge lump. Not huge maybe, Rhând thought to himself going slower due to the pain. But it is something . . .

Not taking heed to anyone at the moment, as the pain grew within every second, he was unfortunate enough to bump into someone. The noise from the armours hitting each other made everyone turn towards Rhând and the person he had bumped into. Silent, they stood for a while listening to the echo which made its way to all of the corners of the tunnels. Rhând, alias Aldor, swallowed. He turned to meet the person he had bumped into. Looking upwards, he found himself staring into a couple of dark coloured eyes. He recognized them instantly as the two eyes which belonged to the male elf. You filthy traitor and disgraceful creature, Rhând thought. When looking at him more closely, seeing that the rest of the company turned their attention to the tunnel again, Rhând made out the ugly features of the Elven kind; the pale skin, the ears, the height and their pride. As the feeling of hate towards the elf arose inside of him, he hoped She would single the male elf out, take him and eat him. Rhând smiled a peculiar smile as he thought of the elf being eaten; the cries, eyes being filled with pain as She set her teeth in him and the horror in his eyes. It would be a terribly short journey for the male elf, Rhând would see to it.
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Old 07-09-2004, 08:49 AM   #53
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The others followed Grash into the tunnel, as he knew they would – for what else was there for them to do? They quickly passed down the winding corridor carved by the makers of the Tower in ages past. Its walls were smooth, and Grash wondered at this, for he did not know of the ancient Men who had founded the Tower before its capture by the Dark Lord. They soon reached a low wall that ran across the mouth of the corridor that they had to scramble over. The Elves fairly leapt over the barrier, but the others had to climb as best they could. The Dwarves gave one another what aid they could in their crossing, but did not offer their hands to the Men. Aldor was quick to mount the low wall and help Grash and the other Men onto the other side. Darash and Lyshka, Grash noted, refused all aid.

When they were assembled upon the other side there were two ways. One lay to their left and sloped gently upward. There came from that tunnel a faint breeze of foul air from which they determined that it led to the tunnel’s exit. Some of the company were perhaps tempted to go that way and avoid the Monster, but that direction would only have led them back to Mordor. The only way to escape were they to go back from the tunnel was along the road to Minas Morgul… Steeling themselves, they headed into the impenetrable gloom of the Monster’s lair.

The tunnel ran straight and broad so it was easy to find their way, but there were many openings on either hand from which came noisome smells and foul airs. Grash led the way bearing one of the torches. The flame, which had seemed so bright in the cellars of the Tower, was but a flickering will-o-the-wisp in the pall of this realm, or like the poisonous glow of a corpse candle. As they walked on, the air grew thick and heavy, and closed in about them all choking their breath and stilling their hearts. When Zuromor spoke to Grash, his voice sounded alarmingly loud even though it was barely a whisper. “Grash,” he asked “how do you expect to live through this? You said you freed us so you would be able to leave. What if you are one of those who are eaten?”

Grash merely shrugged. “Maybe I do get eaten. Maybe I do not. If I go through tunnel alone then no escape at all. This way, perhaps I do escape.”

There was an uncomfortable silence for a moment in which Grash could sense the man working up to another question. It was a matter of indifference to Grash whether he would ask it or not, so he simply plodded along in silence. “How many do you think will be taken?” Zuromor asked.

Again Grash shrugged. “When Monster takes orcs, she takes three of four. But orcs nasty krattûk beasts, they not taste good, I think.” He smiled darkly. “Many here taste sweeter than orcs, I think,” he flicked his eyes back to where the Elves strode, and behind them, the Dwarves, their dark forms barely visible through the pitch. He looked back into the dark that ran on before their feet. “Sweeter than Grash, I think. Sweeter than Men.” And again he smiled.

He heard a sound almost like a snicker and looked behind him. Jeren was walking at his back, but his face was serious and fixed. Grash wondered if the Man had heard him speaking with Zuromor…
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Old 07-09-2004, 09:37 AM   #54
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White-Hand The way of the Amazigh

Darash turned her eyes from the shadows of the courtyard to the deep gloom of the tunnel. Though no one could see, the muscles on her neck quivered. But that was all the evidence she displayed of her fear. She had never been underground, never crawled through rock and dark and places where offal hung to fill the air with putrid scent. The group trudged on for she knew not how long, time being lost in the winding of the lair. They were climbing, she thought. The air seemed empty except for its stench. It hardly filled her lungs. She willed herself to breathe deeply, for she would need to gather her strength. And thoughts.

She watched Grash walk on ahead, the torch lighting the way. She recalled his words.

"Not all reach the other side," he had said. "Some get eaten, some do not."

As she walked over the smooth, cold stone, her feet unaccustomed to the orc boots, her hand followed one side, testing the walls as she walked for their strength and texture, as if she were learning the place. Her mind was filled with thoughts of Grash.

Grash has watched the movements of the orcs and noted them well. He is a cunning leopard. He has seen the herds gather and knows that the weak ones fall. But this is all he knows; he is an animal, not a man of the Amazigh. He sacrifices life like animals.

She kept these thoughts to herself, for this was not the time to challenge him. For now, it was enough to follow him cautiously, warily. There were enough of them here, many hands, many swords, to ward off this foul beast they spoke of. Why plan like the orcs and animals do, for some to fall? The way of these northerners was despicable.

A rumble in the bowels of the tunnel made Darash shake her head of these thoughts. She began to form thoughts of this animal, this beast, this monster, recalling what little she knew of it. If you know the animal's way, she reminded herself, you will know the way to fight it. She hefted the bags she carried, put a blade in each hand, and thought about how to speak to the others so they would have a strategy for all and not just for some. She would teach this Grash something.

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Old 07-09-2004, 08:14 PM   #55
Aylwen Dreamsong
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“Sweeter than Grash, I think. Sweeter than Men.”

Jeren heard the words and rolled his eyes, scoffing lightly. However, this small noise echoed and brought a quick, sidelong glance from Grash. Jeren made his face serious and still as stone until the man turned back forward. I think that if she is hungry, she will eat whatever she gets. If she will stand the rank of the orcs, she will eat both Dwarf and Man. Or Man and Elf, whichever she gets first. She will not get me first, at least…

The Southron man kept these wicked thoughts to himself as the group walked the tunnel. It is well that we go toward the beast, Jeren thought. We are too many in number as it is. The Dwarves will slow us down, they are stubborn. The females will slow us down. Jeren strayed momentarily to the left, lifting his hand and letting it gently drag against the dimly lit wall. The damp, rocky wall grated against his fingertips, and Jeren withdrew his hand when the wall opened up temporarily into another shaft.

Suddenly, Jeren felt a tingle in the back of his throat. What the -- The Southron man's eyes squinted and his brows furrowed. Soon, Jeren broke out in fits of hacking. His exhales brought coughing and his inhales were difficult and wheezing. Jeren ignored everyone's attention and glances, focusing on the procession of the thick, nasty air into his lungs. He still was unused to the disgusting air. Cough after cough Jeren tried to stifle.

"Silence! No sound from you, too loud!" Grash hissed, and Jeren glared coldly at the man. I'll rip your throat out and then you can see how you like it, Jeren thought bitterly, though he did try harder to quiet his hacking...he just breathed less.

"When does the tunnel open?" Jeren whispered softly to Grash, though the words echoed once again and he knew the whole company could hear his words. Jeren's voice came out rough and broken, and he fought through another fit of his rebelling throat and lungs.
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Old 07-10-2004, 10:53 AM   #56
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Boots Rhând

"When does the tunnel open?" he heard the Southron say.

If you don't shut your big mouth very soon, we won't come to then end of the tunnel at all, Rhând thought miserably to himself. The echoes the other Southron, Jeren, had made when 'whispering', roared through the whole tunnel. The sound of his coughing too, made Rhând doubt they would ever get out the tunnel alive. This Jeren had caused too much noise. Surely, if there was a monster, which Rhând himself was starting to believe, it would certainly hear them if they weren't quiet. On the other hand though, it would be a good thing that people got annoyed with this Southron's behaviour. It would be a great accomplishment to himself, even though he hadn't done anything. He looked at the Southron for a moment. Yes, he would certainly be hated. The more mistakes he made, the more the others would hate him. Rhând, too, would help them hate the Southron even though he was a Southron himself. It surprised him that he hadn't realised it before, but it was clear to him now; Jeren would definitely be an important piece in this puzzle. If he were ever going to escape from these prisoners, and bring them back to their cells, Rhând would need a prisoner who was more hated than himself: Jeren. Rhând, himself, would of course avoid being hated, but if he was unfortunate enough to make a mistake, it was good to have someone in the company who absolutely no one liked.

Being more careful now as he went, not to bump into anyone, (certainly not Elves,) he laid his eyes on Jeren. He wanted to observe him, wanted to learn more about him. What weaknesses did he have? What strengths? Rhând gave a peculiar smile at this, as he didn't know if a full-blood Southron had any strengths. On the other hand, he reproached himself for underestimating another. It could be dangerous in a situation like this, but it would have to pass this time. How could possibly a Southron like Jeren, who found it convenient to cough in a tunnel where there was supposed to be a monster of the worst kind, do anything right? Yes, by the look of him, Rhând thought, he seemed dumb, ignorant and as all Southrons quite boring.

Following the dim light from the torch Grash held in his hand, Rhând was able, due to great concentration, to make out the tunnel's form; how it bent and so on. The cobwebs, which he came to notice even more than before, were terribly big. What was this place anyway? he wondered. He had heard of great spiders, but this size?! It seemed so surreal, but he knew that it was probably something of that kind which lived here. He bit his lip, feeling his neck getting stiffer and stiffer. He would have to do something about it, when coming out of the tunnel. He couldn't go on forever with the big lump. However, as he thought about it, it was probably just a matter of time before it got better. How much worse could it get? He thought to himself. He felt the need to curse, and he did so, but under his breath.

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Old 07-10-2004, 12:13 PM   #57
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The coughing and hacking that emanated from Jeren, had become quite an annoyance to the finely tuned ears of the dark Silvan. The noise echoed from wall to wall, and it seemed to shake even the finely strung webs that had been woven into the corridors by whatever brooding monstrosity of a long forgotten age, that lurked in the passage. The webs themselves were peculiar, as they seemed to reflect a light that did not exist in the darkness of the Tunnel. Not only that, but it seemed like the creature that had woven them, had arrayed them in a way that forced any passerby along a certain, well-worn path.

The march through the Tunnel was slow going, as many pitfalls and cobwebs hampered the efforts to continue forth. Every once and awhile someone would trip over a pile of orc bone left behind from one the creature's previous meals. None of this worried the elf. He knew his naturally imbued grace and dexterity would give him advantage over the others, who continued to bumble around through darkness. To the Mortals within the party, this was as quiet as they could get, but the fair and graceful First-born, the Children of Eru, were much more adept with stealth, and proceeded along much more softly careful of their surroundings. The clanging of rough orc armor could be heard as the dwarves carried on towards the rear, bumping into the walls blindly in the dark, and causing undue clatter.

Morgoroth was on edge however, as he knew the creature would come for her meal eventually. So he began to take precautions against such a horrid demise of those he had taken under his wing. Raeis and he walked side by side, and kept Jordo to the center, protecting him from an ambush that was likely to come soon. He kept his bow at his side, with an arrow at the ready, prepared to sing its deadly song in the uneasy dark of the Tunnel.

Besides the eerie light produced by the webbing, nothing else could very well be seen. Only the light of the slowly dimming torches would provide any artificial light. Yet, the torches would soon fade, and with them, any hope to prevent an ambush. This is what She was waiting for, the time when all lights go out...

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Old 07-10-2004, 01:13 PM   #58
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A Dwarf's Trust

Bror looked warily from side to side, the orbs clouded beneath his hanging, furrowed brow, which looked as heavy as the savage weapon he clutched in each hand, both metal-shod and bound up in thick gloves of chain mail. His beard, frazzled and unkempt, was whisked over his drooping shoulders by the subtlest of breezes, the last, he feared, he would ever feel. He did not care for wind, and had not appreciated the gentle tranquility of daylight in the past, but now felt more than ever that he missed it dearly. In this dark, dank land, this seemingly impassable tunnel, with lurking shadows to overplay those that simply augmented the sinister atmosphere. For some time, at the tail of the motley party, the dwarf trio had traipsed slowly deeper into the tunnel, to court whatever doom the others would and face it alongside them, no matter how much tension the entirety of the group was suffering from, and had been for the duration of their 'adventure.'

Elves and men were all around him, or at least before him and ahead. They still looked segregated purposefully into their own units, but had formed a strange, muddled clump to be near each other, only for the sake of individual safety. Some might trust one another, but most did not trust anyone save themselves and one or two others. Dwarves trusted dwarves, elves trusted elves, men trusted men, and friends trusted friends, but no alliances had been made in earnest, which left the group uneasy. The three dwarves were as uneasy as the rest, and perhaps more, as they did not share any bond with the other races present.

The dwarf at the head of the three, Bror, was, as the other two were, half accustomed to the darkness. Years in the ominous fog of Cirith Ungol had manipulated his eyes’ former prowess. He was used to the darker shades and hues of these lands. But, his past life, the one left behind, left him with a second aspect of sight into the darkness, when he’d lived in a dimmer time, but brightened by happiness. He could see all around him, the rocky crags on the damp cave wall, the countless spider-built threads of cobwebs that hung above, with an assortment of dead and decaying creatures suspended from above, with a pestilential aura lingering around each corpse of orc and animal alike. Bror looked up and around, his nose wrinkling sensitively. He began to walk faster, jogging awkwardly in his heavily armored outfit, and soon had Dwali and Dorim pacing far behind. He weaved with some slight nimbleness past the elves and the men until he could see the back of their accidental leader, and he who had granted Bror his freedom, the man called Grash. Hurriedly, Bror sidled up to him. The man turned slowly, his face as slate as ever, as Bror began reluctantly to speak, ignoring anyone else who might be nearby, focusing unanimously on the man called Grash.

“Man…” he paused, reminding himself swiftly of the man’s true name, or the one he’d told his ‘allies,’ “Grash…you spoke of the beast in the tunnel earlier…you said that not all of us would ford this last obstacle, but some would, and that is why you freed us…” he paused again, his tongue held back with his words as he was unsure how to phrase his question, something he’d been considering for a long while, “Do you truly think that you will be one of those?...Do you trust corrupted men and prideful elves so much that, in this time where you hold onto life in this place of death, you would trust them to assist you...and each other…”

Grash looked at him with resilient lack of emotion and posed a brief question, still walking into the depths of the darkness. “You not trust elves and men?” Bror didn’t look back, but looked to the comfortable uniformity of the tunnel’s wall for consolation in whatever he thought. “No,” he said soon after, which didn’t surprise the younger man, “…no, I don’t. Neither do my kin. Elves serve only their own kind, and men serve only themselves…Were I one of them, I would not trust dwarves…It is hard to trust anyone after such emotions have been gouged from your mind.” He thought back to more painful days, days where he’d wished he had the strength of mind to run onto orcish blades and embrace a death with open arms.

The man nodded soberly, as if he understood better than Bror, which the dwarf severely doubted, and looked to him with a calm face. “You not trust…or you not want to trust?”

Bror looked at him darkly, but answered. “Both, I think…Answer the question!”

Grash turned from him too, still walking, but slower now as darkness closed in around them as the tendril-like legs of the keeper of this cave, sharp and unmerciful. He looked back barely a moment later, speaking as philosophically as a man with his waning oratory talents could. “Don’t know if I survive; maybe live, maybe not, but some get through...I want get through, but not get everything I want, not here. Some get through, some not, but some still get through. They go on, they get out. All might get through.”

The dwarf who he spoke to looked frustrated by Grash’s seeming evasion, but accepted the answer as either carelessness, or maybe misplaced optimism. He continued, digging deeper to get the reply he really desired. “But…if you have the opportunity…would you squander it in place of putting false trust in false allies? All our lives are at risk here, but the risk for some is not as great for some as it is for others…Some will help others and, if you run first, they will be the ones taken by Her.”

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Old 07-10-2004, 09:52 PM   #59
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Lyshka

Lyshka walked carefully in the thick, oppressive darkness of the tunnel. She kept one hand on the smooth stone of the wall and the other firmly gripped the knife she snatched from the Orc corpse. The ominous words of those around her worked themselves inside her head, making her tremble, but she still held herself together rigidly. She squeezed her teeth together tightly, making her jaw protrude on either side of her thin face. Every step she placed with caution, expecting, anticipating the foreboding attack.

For many months, the Easterling had dreamed of her entrance into this tunnel and her meeting with the mighty Shelob. Sitting in her cell, huddled in the dark, cool corner, Lyshka pictured herself walking to her timely death with her head held high. She would simply throw her arms out and cry, “Ak agnash skûg agh ak agnash dûthk!” The beast would then take her in her surrender and bring her the death that would bring an end to the bitterness life brought.

That is how she dreamed of it. But now…now she was free. Free. The idea created such a strange, surreal…even numb sensation in her mind. Lyshka was now free in the tunnel that held the creature she had been tortured by the simple thought of it.

She turned the knife slowly in her hand. She had not pictured herself armed in her dreams. A slow awkward smile crossed her face for a brief moment as she considered the possibility of actually escaping this horrible place. The moment was quickly gone however as she passed an open passage on her left. The stench was heavy and she gagged. Her concentration was broken and fear gripped her once more.

Instinctively, her free hand reached out and grabbed the other woman’s wrist tightly. The Easterling’s hand trembled, but she found strength in the other. The woman turned to Lyshka, meeting her gaze. Lyshka almost expected her to lash out at her, but the woman studied the Easterling’s face in the pale torch light and simply nodded in understanding.

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Old 07-10-2004, 10:36 PM   #60
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Zuromor continued to walk down the dark path and had been listening to Grash and one of the dwarves talking. "All our lives are at risk here, but the risk for some is not as great for some as it is for others" He had heard the dwarf utter these words, and he felt something stir within him, he felt words leap to his tongue as if by instinct. "Life is precious to all. No one person's life is more important than another's. And though you do not trust this group, and I think it's safe to say that most here do no trust you, we are all in danger here. This hidden beast might eat us all if we do not stand together. Why must we be segragated? We should all forget the past and worry about the present. We must stand together, at least until we get past her. What say you?" Zuromor held out his hand to the dwarf in a sign of allegiance.

He had no quarrels with any of these people save that he did not know any of them. But he believed what he said. They would have to stand together. Rivalry would destroy them all. He hoped they would all understand.
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Old 07-11-2004, 04:36 AM   #61
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Unaware of how annoying it might be to the others, Grash responded to Jeren’s question with yet another shrug. It was the way he had learned to reply to any request that was made civilly: so used was he to the barked commands of brutal masters, it was as though he was confused by any other mode of address. “Do not know where tunnel ends,” he said to the Man. “Never been through tunnel. Only, have I seen orcs come and go and hear them talk about it. But it is journey of many hours, many long steps.” He lapsed once more into silence and wondered about this Man. There was something about him that disturbed Grash in ways he could not put into words, not even to himself. It was the same kind of feeling that he had when speaking with Aldor. He wanted to trust them both, and felt as though it would be most natural for him to join with them, and yet there was an odd reluctance in his spirit. In an odd way it was the opposite of his feelings when speaking with the Elves. He knew that they were not to be trusted; indeed, he had begun to regret freeing them at all. If it had not been for the thought that they would prove the most tempting treats for the Monster he never would have let them from their cells. And yet it was as though there was an air about them that made him feel…content. He shook his head to drive away these dreamy ideas. He had no time for the spells of magical beings. His life was defined by the harsh realities of brutal experience. And what experience could be more brutal than this? Some would be taken by the Monster, some would not. To this point he had only considered it a wild gamble, but perhaps there was a way of bettering the odds in his favour…

He turned to the Men, Jeren, Aldor and Zuromor, and spoke to them quickly and silently. He fought to keep the echoes of his voice from reaching the others. “If we fight together – we four – then maybe we escape monster together. Leave Elves and Dwarves to be eaten. Maybe we take women with us. Women need help from men for difficult tasks. Need our protection. Yes,” he said as though he were realising something for the first time, “it would be good to take women with us.”

Before the others replied, the Dwarf Brór bulled into their group. At first his questions confused Grash. Was the Dwarf actually asking Grash to form an alliance with him and his folk? The very idea was preposterous, for everyone – even Grash – knew that one could never trust a Dwarf. He had heard all his life of how the Dwarves had betrayed their alliances with the Elves in the Old Days, and attacked them seeking to steal their treasure. The orcs knew little lore, but these stories were every fresh in their mind as they took great delight from the dissension and mistrust that existed amongst their enemies. Grash had also heard about the wars fought between the Dwarves and the orcs, and all of them had been over treasure; both kinds of folk seemed to pleasure in wealth, and both sought to live in the same kinds of dark caves and tunnels. To Grash’s mind, there did not seem to be much difference between orcs and Dwarves.

He replied to Brór’s questions as evasively as he could and felt quite self-congratulatory as he did. He knew that he was at a terrible disadvantage in this situations insofar as he had little experience dealing with other people, but he was learning quickly that it was important to keep much of the truth to one’s self. Already he was regretting having told the others about his plan for survival in the tunnel – it would have been better to mislead them about the monster in some way, rather than admit that some would be taken this day. He was lost in these thoughts when Zuromor moved toward the Dwarf and offered him his friendship. Grash did not know what to make of this, for he had thought that the Man was on his side. Grash’s head began to ache with the pressure of trying to understand what was happening. His life had been torturous but simple: do what the orcs said or be punished, trust nobody, rely only on himself. With freedom, he found, there were new challenges and complexities the likes of which he had never imagined. It was no longer enough to think only about himself, he had to consider the inner workings of others. He did not know if he could do it…

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

In another part of the tunnel, she sat in the agony of her defeat, weaving about her a web of despair and hatred. Never had she felt the bitter sting of metal within her beloved flesh, and never before had she been denied her prey. The two nasty little creatures that had eluded her were the smallest of morsels, and yet they had proved the dearest of prizes. Her precious eyes still burned with the agonising memory of the light that had pierced her mind, and her body quaked with rage and pain as she sought to staunch the steady trickle of ooze that came from the wound in her belly, and from the end of her lovely leg where her foot had been lopped off. She cursed the fool who lived in his Tower and his pretensions to rule this land. It was his machinations, she was sure, that had brought those creatures to her realm. They were undoubtedly spies of the bright-eyed immortals, sent by them to destroy the Dark Lord, and in her malice she wished them success. Let them defeat Sauron and then seek their escape from this land. She would be waiting for them, and then she would crush and destroy and devour.

As she sat in her darkness, contemplating her revenge, there came to her senses strange airs and an odd rumour of intruders in her tunnels. She shifted slightly and directed her attention toward the main tunnel above. Somewhere up there was a large group of folk. She tasted the airs greedily. Men there were, and Dwarves, and another taste that had been absent from her lair for too long…Elves. Poisonous saliva began to drip from her fangs and mix with the pool of ooze that came from her wound. Such meat was sweet and sustaining. If she were to recover her strength she would need a sustaining meal, and the group that moved through her tunnel would provide that.

Her great limbs creaking as she moved, she slipped through the hidden paths of her realm, quickly squeezing her vast and shapeless bulk through the narrow ways of her lair. She kept herself hiddem from the beings who had dared in their arrogance to enter her darkness, for they were many and she was wounded, but the terror of her passing sent shivers through their succulent flesh. She would make such a meal as she had not made in this age of the world, but to do so would require cunning and cruelty.

Fortunately, she was the mistress of both…

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Old 07-11-2004, 06:12 AM   #62
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The sensation of being hunted is both interesting and terrifying, although the latter description is slightly more accurate. As Dwali moved slowly through the infinite dark of the tunnel, he could not help but feel like a deadly creature was stalking him; creeping unseen somewhere close. Perhaps above me at this very moment, waiting to strike. And then it will all be over, the conclusion to this dark tale. Ignoring the possibility of impending doom, the dwarf turned his attention to the ongoing conversation around him.

“But…if you have the opportunity…would you squander it in place of putting false trust in false allies? All our lives are at risk here, but the risk for some is not as great for some as it is for others…Some will help others and, if you run first, they will be the ones taken by Her.” Bror’s blunt statement was true, and no member of the company spoke. It seemed that each individual was contemplating which type they were… one that sought for personal survival or that of the group as a whole. But Dwali could be silent no longer.

“But what no one fled, hoping to escape on his own? What if we all fought together against this beast that seeks to consume us! Then some might die, yes, but all would keep their honor.” There was no reply. The group continued walking, know that soon, all their questions would be answered.

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Old 07-11-2004, 06:44 AM   #63
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Bror looked up coldly at the new member of the conversation, and the only besides him, now. His left brow cocked simply, gazing up into the honest face of the man. He could not, would not trust men, and would not trust elves, and they didn’t trust him or each other. All the mind’s workings were reduced to rubble in this place of darkness and pain, for no one could think straight when faced with such overbearing, dreadful odds. But, this human seemed set in his goal, however strange or foolhardy it might seem. He put his gauntleted palm and open hand up with veiled reluctance, and shook the hand extended to him, but as no sign of allegiance. He only needed to rely on those who he could trust; he didn’t wish to be bound to them in alliance, for such an act might doom him to their fate. It was all he could do not to instantly pull his hand away, as if the hand that held him was a serpent, clinging to him with venom-wrought fangs so as not to be cast off into the surrounding abyss of shadow.

“I don’t misplace my loyalties, boy.” Bror growled back as he removed his hand, at first hostile with unconcealed belligerence in his gruff, raspy tone, but soon relaxed his grim attitude into one of understanding, and reasoning as he considered the man’s words. “Trust is hard to find down here, and you are right about it in what you say. I don’t trust you, you don’t trust me, and no one trusts any other. I think universal trust, that which you speak of, is a petty impossibility…” Now, though, as his disillusioning speech continued, he saw a sliver of truth in his counterpart’s ideals and was forced to grasp them. “But, I have nothing else to do…Any man who at least tries to extend his hand in friendship shows an admirable quality or two…For now you can trust who you want, and you can trust me if you truly desire, but when she comes, all alliances are rendered useless…Do not think folk who hate each other will help each other in the face of danger.”

“I disagree with that, dwarf.” Zuromor replied briskly, but with some disappointment at not truly recruiting the dwarf to his noble cause. “When she comes, you’ll see.” Bror nodded, again reluctantly, unwilling to even admit to the possibility of being wrong, and ripped his hand away at last, turning on his heels from the group of men and muttering sarcastically as he headed towards his kin, “Indeed. I’m sure I shall.” And as he said thus, he walked slowly, and cautiously, eying the other members of the escapee party with care, towards the other dwarves of the company not far behind.
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Old 07-11-2004, 05:22 PM   #64
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Silmaril

Raeis froze suddenly, stopping midstride in the darkness so that if anyone had been too near to her they would have ran straight into her. Around her, the musty silence was oppressive, the cramped spaces hemming the elf in, making her feel claustrophobic, the caves of the ancient monster within radiating their disapproval against the footsteps of one of the children of Eru. Arrogance of the elf that would step into Her chambers…

The others did not seem to sense the sudden shift in the air, and continued their endless prattle, talking to each other in low voices of how the elves would betray them – fools! Each was far younger even than Raeis, but did they not realise she could hear them? Every word was listened to by the elf, soaked into a mind twisted by pain and a half-madness, held and stored like a spider holding a fly…

Another shift in the air. In the depths of Shelob’s darkness, something moved again, a dangerous shift of silence. Raeis fell into a crouch, her back against a wall as her pointed ears pricked, seeking out the sound once more, trying to find some direction in the echoing, disorientating void that seemed to surround her, distorting all sense of space, her dark eyes staring wildly into the darkness for some sign of light.

Still the Men and Dwarves seemed to notice nothing, their weak senses rendering them deaf and blind.

“When she comes, you’ll see.” The noise of the dwarf’s noisy bray seemed violently loud in the darkness and Raeis winced at it.

“Shhhh….” The hiss escaped her lips quietly. Around her, the others turned to her, curious as the what had made the strange, silent elf speak. Raeis’s eyes continued to stare into the darkness as she spoke again, her voice a whisper, her lips barely moving.

“Something stirs – the air shifts…” she looked up at them. “She is moving.”

There was a second of silence then one of the dwarves scoffed disbelievingly at her, almost laughing. “Pah! ‘Something stirs’…” he mimicked Raeis’s voice, his lip curling distastefully as he looked down at her. “Think you can take us in so easily, elf? You mean to scare us, to make us afraid and trembling, so you can call her and bring us to our deaths-” The dwarf was almost shouting in her resentment when another, one of the women, the tall, bronze-skinned one, interrupted, letting a harsh ‘pcha!’ sound escape her lips, although whether it was a word or simply a noise, Raeis couldn’t tell. At the moment, she didn’t care. She looked up at them again, her eyes focusing this time on the Southron woman who had silenced the dwarves.

“She knows we are here,” she stated quietly.

As if the great spider had heard, a sound suddenly echoed throughout the caves – a rock falling, the crunch like breaking bone making every one of the escapees jump and spin around, looking for where the noise had come from. Raeis didn’t move, but the carved elven sword was in her hand from her belt in a moment, her eyes flashing. She hastily offloaded the other weapons, the knives and one of the two swords, onto the ground in front of her, motioning for the others to take them. She held back the other sword though, pushing it towards the tall woman without a word. Another rock fell and a small, high sound echoed through the darkness. Raeis closed her eyes fearfully, then opened them and stood slowly, sword ready in her hand.

“She knows we are here,” she murmured again softly.
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Old 07-11-2004, 09:49 PM   #65
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It seemed that the elf-woman was right. She did know. The sound from deep within the tunnel came like an answer to an unspoken question. Zuromor approached the dwarf whom he had talked to earlier. "You should not underestimate the Elves, especially if you think of them as your enemies. Though it seems now we will see our answer." Zuromor turned so that he could see all of the party. "Stand in your small groups if it be your will, but surely all of you can see that all of us might escape... if we work together. Stop fighting amongst yourselves, for if ye continue that when she comes..." Zuromor trailed off and seemed to be thinking of some horrific event when he began to let one possible senario play out in his mind's eye. What if the would not band together?

"Death waits for those who are not willing to stay their hate and vanquish evil when they see it. I have long waited for a chance to slay those foul orcs that kept us prisoner, and I am sure all of you have to. Let us slay this dark beast, together! Then we shall have a revenge that will taste much sweeter than slaying any orc. We will be free. No more orcs ruling our lives. Surely that is worth fighting along side those who you do not completely trust. Especially when your feelings come from hatred born ages ago. Let go of that hate and fight. She will not fall easily."

With that Zuromor walked over to the Elf-woman and grabbed one of the small knives she had lain about and secured it in his belt. He looked at her and for the first time he felt something he could not explain nor understand. He felt at peace, yet he felt torn. He did not feel pain, but he felt a strange sort of nausea in the pit of his being. He felt himself blush and then he turned away and braced for her coming.
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Old 07-12-2004, 06:18 AM   #66
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The great spider Shelob, last of Ungoliant's spawn, was preparing to unleash armageddon on the party. With their own deep running divisions, she would be able to bring them down, one at a time, methodically, torturing those survivors with 'who would be next?'. Yet, she had been wounded earlier. She would take all these intruders into Her domain, and devour them, as atonement for her previous failure.

Morgoroth sat, unmoving, against a wall. He listened to the sounds emanating from the vast deep of the Tunnel, and he understood. He knew she would come, it was only a matter of time. He had hoped she would stay her hunger, but it seemed she was moving, readying herself to strike. The disunity that spread itself like a virus through the former prisoners, would be her greatest asset. But one of the humans had tried to rectify this, at least partly, but he was alone is his plea for a call to a united front. None of the others seemed willing to strike up a temporary alliance, to deal with the threat of Shelob.

And so the Elf stood up, slowly, from his position against the wall. He continued to listen to the reverberating echoes coming from the inner most parts of the passages. He gracefully made his way to one of the dwarves, the one who had 'questioned' him earlier about the escaping orc. “Ah, master dwarf, it seems we are at an impasse." The dwarf was startled at this, and he turned quickly, with a knife drawn. Morgoroth slowly placed his hand on the blade, and began to move it aside. "We cannot be killing one another, at least not now. It would be unwise to weaken ourselves for Her coming." The dwarf answered only with low-pitched grunt. "I propose we settle our differences, and unite, at least for now, to defeat the wretched creature that stalks us all." The dwarf stared at the Silvan for a long while, and finally spoke. "I will need to speak with my brethren."

Morgoroth, with a bit of hesitance, turned from the dwarf, and carefully made his way back to his place against the wall. It would provide him with a vantage point throughout the corridor. There, he prepared himself for Her coming, and hoped that the barriers that divided the group, would collapse, and they would defend as one.

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Old 07-12-2004, 06:49 AM   #67
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"Something stirs--the air shifts."

Listening intensely to what the elf-woman had said, Darash strained to hear what she had been hearing. Then that dwarf with the mind of rodent had rippled the silence like a stone breaking water's surface. Darash had felt too great contempt for the dwarf's poor strategy to speak more to him than one word of derision. That, at least, had worked to silence him. She strode over to the elf woman with the burning eyes and looked deeply into her face, seeing beyond the scars and sensing something there, something she found familiar. There was knowledge there, no, more than knowledge. There was wisdom, a wisdom like to that Darash knew from her own people. For the first time since her captivity, Darash sensed she was in the presence of one who might share some common understanding. With a slight, honorific bow, she accepted the gift of the sword and took her place beside the elf as the man Zuromor spoke.

When he was finished, they were three, elf, man, Amazigh. Darash silently began humming a song to herself, 'Umbella dareya umbella hadaryeh. Ushalla ngange." Then she stopped, listening as the rock groaned. The torches flickered heavily as the air became heavy with foul vapours.

"Grash, we learn about monster. Tell fast, how she? Tall? big? Many arms? Kill with running or crushing? Soft belly? Scales?"

They looked at her, questioning why she broke the silence. Raeis looked at her and nodded approval. Zuromor found the heat in his face, the nausea in his stomach abate as he realised what strategy Darash implied.
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Old 07-12-2004, 06:58 AM   #68
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This was not how he had planned it. The prisoners had come to a halt in the middle of the corridor and were speaking amongst themselves. Darash, backed by the Man Zuromor, was suggesting the madness of seeking to defeat the Monster as a group, while others were speaking in small groups, clearly trying to make allies to help them survive the coming attack. The Elf woman crouched against the wall, clearly near collapse from the terror of the airs that Grash could feel coming toward them from the darkness. Surely they must know that to fight was impossible, only flight and speed, and even then only the swiftest could hope to ever see the sky again. He shook his head and muttered under his breath. What was he to do? He had to get the group moving again, and quickly, but what little order existed amongst the prisoners was evaporating within the horrid reek of the enclosing darkness.

There came upon them then a freezing terror unlike anything they had ever known. For each it was as though their worst nightmare had come into the waking world and now approached on stealthy legs. The very darkness took on substance and choked them, taking the vision from their eyes and minds so that they were all of them little more than blind and naked animals, quivering in cold place that would destroy them with its very indifference. Grash gasped for air and reached out to catch himself against a wall, choking on terror. Instead of rock his hand met flesh and he felt a hand take his own. It was strong and gave some comfort, but he felt the shiver of mortality that thrilled the other’s flesh as it did his own. Forcing himself to see again, he looked into the eyes of Aldor. It was as though he were looking into a window that had for the first time been opened to the outside world. In an instant, Grash saw the naked terror of a soul in torment and realised that Aldor had to this point been hiding much about himself, but in the extremity of their fear his barriers had fallen and lay about him like broken glass. Aldor forced the words out through a throat clenched by the air it tried to breath. “Run,” he gasped. “We must run…”

Grash nodded and tried to move but he was powerless to go anywhere, for her overwhelming will had come upon them. The company could move only their eyes, and what they saw approaching them through the darkness filled with loathing. In the darkness behind them there loomed up a vast shape, like a void into the pits of nothingness against the pitch of her realm. They heard the slow creak of her mighty limbs and the rasping noise of her great body as it dragged along the ground. But most horrible of all were her eyes. Thousands of them glared at them in clusters about her head, and from them there came a cold and baleful light of hunger and merciless hatred of all that drew breath and lived.

But as helpless as they felt, she was still wary, for they were many, and she was wounded. She would not risk an open confrontation here in the passageway, so she used all her will to cow and terrify them now, to drive their minds into the blackness of panic that overcomes reason, before letting them flee where she wished them to go. She would drive them before her to their end, where she would feast mightily.

Suddenly freed of their immobility, but seized still by the animal terror of the monster, the company turned and fled headlong down the passage. None there were who could resist the terror of that moment, so great was the will and hatred of she who followed them, none save perhaps the wisest of the wise. They ran headlong into the eternal night of her realm until they came upon a vast web of incredible size blocking the straight way. They slashed at the cords of the web with their weapons, but she had not taken such care with a web in many years and it defied steel and iron. They turned about to face the onslaught, and Grash tried to lean against a wall so that he would have something at his back other than the terrible web, but he fell into darkness. He landed upon a gently sloping floor, and scrambling to his feet he cried out for the others. “This way! Come! Another passage! Come come!” He turned and ran into the smaller way, down and down into a reek so terrible that it brought tears to his eyes. Some of the company followed, while others, wary of this new route, so clearly laid out for them, tried to stand their ground, but the terror of her approach came upon them like a wave and they could not withstand it. They turned and fled into the narrow way after the others.

On and on they ran and after a while the horror of her approach lessened, but it did not go away. Finally they stopped, panting and gasping for breath amid a noisome reek that clogged the air with a putrid taste so vile that every breath was a labour. Grash leaned against the wall, and felt not stone beneath his hand but a pulpy softness that writhed and squirmed. He spun away and help up his torch. At that instant the blindness that had overcome them all was lifted and they looked about at a sight that threatened their very reason. Hung about them upon the walls and roof of the tunnel were hundreds and thousands of vile creatures. Whether they were the spawn of the monster that had driven them here, or merely loathsome creatures that had some into her lair seeking the dregs of her feasts none could tell. Like spiders they were, but larger, some reaching the size of the largest rats that dwelled in the dungeons of Cirith Ungol. They were black and covered with fine hair, and the company could plainly see the poisonous glint of their stings, and hear the dreadful clicking of their jaws.

For a moment they stared in horror at the living, writhing mass of legs and bodies that hung about them, but there was no time to decide what was to be done, for like a pack of wild dogs that had been awaiting the command of their leader, the creatures swung toward the company upon their webs, seeking their tender flesh with their legs and stings and jaws…

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Old 07-12-2004, 03:30 PM   #69
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As the horrific creatures charged them all, Zuromor courage took hold on him. But he found he was not afraid of getting himself hurt, but he feared for the elf-woman. He did not want such vile things touching her. Yet at the same time he could not understand why he wanted to protect her.

Without thinking Zuromor Jumped in front of her and hacked one the attackers in twain. He turned to her and he felt light-hearted. It was as though nothing was attacking him and he felt himself smile. His smile soon turned to a fierce scowl as he again swung his blade and began to strike at any foul creature that came near her. He would protect her.....no matter the cost.
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Old 07-12-2004, 04:19 PM   #70
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The scampering, scurrying creatures could be heard clacking their hideous fangs together in the darkness. They moved with precision and timing, slowly encircling their prey, and choosing those that were weakened or separated from the group as targets. They formed a great mass as they did this, creating a horrible black ocean of anguish and torment. Should they managed to bring down any of their intended prey, a terrible, brutal death awaited them. Being torn limb for limb, and hearing their own bones break as the beasts pulled them apart, would be the the unfortunate victim's end.

Morgoroth was unlucky, for he had stayed behind, to guide Jordo, and protect him from Shelob. As they fled down the corridor, Jordo had become separated, but found a defense among the other slaves and prisoners ahead, where as the Elf lagged behind, covering the escape. And now he was fully cut off, and his only shelter was a low overhang. There he perched himself, attempting concealment over overt defense. The creatures would find him eventually, but he would live for awhile at least.

Watching from this point, he could see the others finally coming together, though rather slowly. The group realized it needed to survive, and to stand together was the only option now. Yet, try as they may to unite, the creatures were far better prepared. It would take cunning, and brutal determination to see them through the hordes of the Tunnel.
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Old 07-12-2004, 08:11 PM   #71
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Battle to the End

Brór Stormhand knew that sound, that horrible, incessant, unending clacking that beat with a furious rhythm, not sounding together but in multitudes like vile locust swarms buzzing about in the shadows above. It infuriated him even now that they lurked above and descended only to strike. Like goblins they were, dwelling in the shadows and waiting until the moment most opportune to dive and strike. This incensed Brór, and he knew that, if ever his time had come to fight, now was it. He did not heed the words spoken to him by any and chaos reigned soon after. The hurried party scattered, but stayed at least in some group. Some moved left, some right, some frontward, some backward, all every which way, but Brór knew where he would go. Dismissing his kin, Dorim and Dwali, he ran as fast as his legs took his through the band, towards the small, beastly spiders that alighted on the ground and hung just out of reach, tantalizing him to hit them with his blade and club. Nevertheless, he cleared the group, and dove into the mound of dark, pestilential monsters, seeking either their death or his.

He hacked and bashed, thwacked and smashed, and hammered away madly at the creatures as they tried in vain to swarm him. His inflated ego, which bloated more after each sickening sound that signaled the demise of one beast, told him he was doing well in battle, but it was his mind’s false hope and that alone. Three more went down, ground into the gasping dirt and damp rock by his cragged cudgel crushed and his swift ax sliced in twain or more. Their corpses on the earth seemed swallowed up by the oncoming hordes that moved steadily towards him, their fragile, stick-like legs pattering gently on the cave floor around as they rushed to get behind him, or to some vulnerable side. They would leap at him through the misty shroud of their webs, trying to bite and taint his blood with their putrid venom, but he was armed, and heavily armed at that, like a wall of rough-hewn stone he stood, statuary in the sea of arachnids. But, though he stood firm, he was almost lost. Through the writhing mass of spider flesh, he saw none of the other prisoners. He was sure that some, in their arrogance, had stayed behind, or moved there, to battle the cluster of monstrosities, but he could not make them out. The orcish armor he wore stabbed at him as much as the puncturing teeth and claws of the spiders did, galling him to wear it and darkening his sight.

He knew now, now more than ever he had known that he was lost. He brought the hefty ax down mightily, cleaving a final spider in two with a revolting sound, but his weapon seared as water to fire through the monster’s hide and was borne into the rock below, which grabbed onto it, latching its remnants of webbing onto the prongs of the ax and pulling it. As Bror attempted to unsheathe it from the earth in one swift motion, another spider took its moment to lunge, pouncing viciously on Brór’s stray hand. Through the rings of his male the beast’s darting fangs went, piercing his tough flesh beneath, but only for a moment. He drew his hand away, leaving the ax where it lay to be assimilated by the spiders, and clutched his hand as the tight armored gauntlet fixes upon it held in the blood, only causing him more pain. He tore at the metal glove to no avail, but abandoned that cause a moment later in favor of fighting his assailants, clubbing the next spider that leapt back towards his kin.

The dwarf, standing amidst the clacks of fangs and the hisses of beasts, heard only doom’s drum in his ears, covered by a heavy-handed helmet of the orcs. He could see nothing, save the spiders and the jutting rocks. Many hanging roofs of stone sat around, coated with webbing, a desirable hiding place, but he could not flee. He was surrounded, and his kinsmen, even if they desired to help him, could not reach him. Who, besides them, would bother risking life and limb for the dwarf? It didn’t matter now; Bror didn’t blame himself, though his sense did, as his heart was busy with its own agenda. He had wanted to die here, sooner or later, and, as he’d told his kin, hope was still its same illusion. To have good humor was a way to go about death that Bror had once excelled in, and would again. When the last spider drained the life fluid from his empty skull, his dead face would wear a defiant smile, though he could not muster the expression. He dashed, headlong, forward, and plowed into the fray renewed.

Suddenly, his dimmed eyesight caught in its cone the sight of a figure, a figure upright, though crouching, which lurked darkly beneath the canopy of stone nearby. He yearned to know who he saw, but he could not tell. It was no spider, for it had but two arms, clasped about itself. But, in a flash and an instant, in between the clicks and clacks of spiders wanting his death and ingestion, he recognized the figure. He looked just as he had the last time he and Brór had crossed paths. It was the darker elf, Morgoroth by name, though Bror did not know what he was called. The last time Bror had accosted that elf, he had been similarly crouched in the courtyard of the tower, looking as lonesome and desolate as now he did. With this realization came more dissolution. This elf, of all elves save the single female, who had nearly come to blows with him, was least likely to help him. He despaired again, but not for long. If the elf’s eyes were open as they seemed to be, they would see Brór’s glory and demise - or more, if that elf saw fit to take part. For now, Brór was content to die, not beneath the stars, but beneath the likeness of stars, the glittering eyes of his enemies…
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Old 07-12-2004, 09:35 PM   #72
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The carnage and immense reek brought about with each demise of the horrid, and disgusting, creatures at the hands of the bloodlust crazed dwarf, was outlandish. For the moment, they seemed to smell worse than their bite was, but that soon changed. The creatures swarmed about the lonely dwarf, who's only comrades had abandoned him, biting and stinging the armor and flesh of the poor, woe begotten defender.

The dwarf fought bravely, for all his insane lust for death. Yet, even for his great strength, the black devils brought their wrath unto him harshly, and he could not withstand it much more. He nearly collapsed under their weight, and deadly jaws. but he rose once more, and fought them yet again, driving them to the ground. His dwarven comrades still stood motionless, occasionally batting away the minions of Shelob who came forth to greet them.

From his dark alcove, the Elf watched this cycle for both the scuttling enemy, and his fellow freed prisoners. Then as the Elf turned to his thoughts, he saw the embattled dwarf fall to the ground, while clusters of the vile beasts poured over him, as if a flood gate had been released. His end seemed near, and as the Elf turned his head to look away from an imminent death, something stirred in his heart. He felt pity for the dwarf, and without hesitating, he rose from the relative safety of his hidden spot, with bow and short sword in hand. He leaped down from his vantage point, softly landing on the ground. He instantly drew his bow, and fired a salvo of arrows into the spidery mass that the dwarf encapsulated in. Three of the terrible beasts fell off immediately, curled into balls of dead matter, pierced with Haradrim-made arrows. With a swipe from his blade, another was dispatched, collapsing to the floor, spewing a rancid mixture of blackened blood, and a caustic gas. Morgoroth thrust his hand through the remaining creatures, who were now preparing to counter the Elf’s intrusion., and caught hold of the dwarf, and pulled him from the heap. “Come master dwarf, we should not tally here long.” With that, the Elf led the beleaguered and wounded dwarf back to his alcove, fending off counters from the spider menace, all the while taking the venomous bites and stings of his abhorred and sinister enemy, in defense of the dwarf.

The alcove offered not only safety, but a place of which to rest peacefully. The spiders for some odd reason, would not climb the wall, as if they could not. Perhaps they had not fully developed themselves, or found no need to, and it was simply faded out of their gene pool. But whatever the case, the two were safe. Morgoroth laid the dwarf down in a small niche, to better protect the wounded fighter. “Stay yourself here master dwarf, you are safe now.” Without saying another word, the Elf moved in a crouched position towards the edge of the wall, and peered out into the crawling, writhing black abyss that was the spider horde. And the others were still yet surrounded and outmatched.
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Old 07-13-2004, 07:07 AM   #73
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Save

Lyshka spun slowly around, taking in the horrific scene. Now that the crazed dwarf had been removed from the immediate danger, the terrible creatures turned their full attention to those still left standing in the center of the room. Thousands of sparkling eyes looked over them, while anxious fangs dripped with poison at the promise of a sweet meal.

Stepping backward, Lyshka hoped to have her back covered by one of the other prisoners, but as she moved, her hair was lifted and she felt something sharp graze her scalp. The Easterling snapped her head around. Her gaze met the belly of one of the beasts, and she cried out in surprise. At the same time, she swung her arm and threw the creature across the room. It landed out of the light’s reach, but she imagined she heard a thump against the far wall.

Fear gripped the woman. Her heart pounded in her ears, and her breath was shallow. Using her Orc blade, she stabbed another spider that came too close to her feet. It’s black blood oozed like the growing shadows in the darkness, and the stinch that rose caused Lyshka to cover her face with her knifeless hand as she coughed the fumes from her lungs.

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Old 07-13-2004, 11:33 PM   #74
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The Eye Jordo

Jordo had been frozen in a horror that he had not known since his escape from his cell in Mordor, from his cage. If his mind was not so filled with fear it would have realized that he had finally acknowledged his finding freedom an 'escape'. Not that his mind would understand that this was an improvement to his soul. With peace of mind, his thoughts would insist that it marred his soul, while his soul would listen with interest. But his mind was not at peace, and his soul was finding its old tarnishing torment. He could not find a scream in his throat to let out the fear that roiled and writhed inside.

The snake in his gut even spoke to him. Sometimes it whispered, other times it screamed, and he obeyed. If he obeyed it, it would leave him alone. If he obeyed it, he would feel no pain. One word was all that he needed to hear. The word would be one of wisest counsel, and would free him of those many eyes and many legs. The snake had no legs, and Jordo didn’t think it had eyes either. It didn’t need to move, to run, when Jordo could run for it. And he did, as it whispered frantically in his ear: Run! Fast, my friend…no time, my friend… Run, catch up with mamma!

Jordo ran to the nearest shadows, for once finding them a haven. His eyes darted, but he saw nothing. He heard screams and the grotesque clacking of what his eyes had seen to be a mouth. A set of crushing jaws that waited to bring from him his own screams of pain. It was the voices of those in fear and agony that twisted his soul into the snake, and it continued to slither in his stomach. His ears strained to hear what went on in the dark around him, though he fought to shut it all out of his head. Once it was in his head, he would not hear anything else.

He kept moving for some time, racing through shadows, feeling alone while still feeling that he was being watched. As the darkness rushed by him, he felt as if it was closing in behind him, folding in on itself, swallowing up anything that was not already of the dark. It was almost as if he could feel a rush of air each time the darkness folded like snapping jaws, trying to catch Jordo from behind. Thinking of jaws, his legs strained to move faster. But soon he gave in, as he knew he would never outrun the shadows. And she he curled up in them, still and quiet, and finding some sort of peace.

He stood there for a moment, listening to his breathing, focusing on it. The focus should of course always be on himself; long had he been concerned for his well-being, concerned enough to forget others, especially since the death of his mother. He heard not the noises of approaching people in fear, each one rushing to escape his or her own death. And Jordo forgot that his own death was chasing him, as the shadows had caught up with him. He suddenly felt a something large hit him, and he was on the floor, unable to get up for the people that ran over him and around him.

He curled up into a ball, and squeezed his eyes tight, hoping for the darkness to protect him once more. Jordo tried not to be in the way. Why was he always in someone's way? No one liked having someone in their way. They would punish him for being where they did not want him to be. And he felt pain, as he was kicked and stepped on, and finally a large booted foot hit him in the forehead. Soon the pain was lost in the darkness.

Last edited by Durelin; 07-14-2004 at 09:09 AM.
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Old 07-16-2004, 09:56 AM   #75
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White Tree

"This is it!" Dorim said under his breath. He knew, it would either be him, or them. Right now, he didn't care either. Taking his ax, Dorim took a deep breath and plunged into the vat of spiders. As one by one, spiders crept up on him, his ax dropped down on them, swiping spiders left and right. It was as hard keeping them off as it was keeping liquid off you under water. Constantly, they'd jump and land on Dorim, giving him a mere moment to get them off.

Finally, after about five minutes of fighting, an abnormally large spider jumped on Dorim's head and took him down. As hard as he tried, the spider wouldn't come off. It seemed it would kill him. Warding off other spiders, he couldnt' take the one on his head off. "You infernal creature!" Dorim said, as two spiders jumped on his stomach. Screaming, Dorim used all his power to knock them off. In a moment, the others saw several spiders fly very high into the air and come back down.

The rage inside Dorim was so powerful, that spiders slowed down as they approached. Dorim would not go down easy.

Last edited by piosenniel; 07-16-2004 at 10:02 AM. Reason: separated into paragraphs
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Old 07-16-2004, 11:34 AM   #76
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Dwali's battle

The battle raged all around, bodies and weapons entwined with spiders and crawling legs. Grash's company put their scavanged weapons work in quick order, hacking their way through the mass of attacking arachnids. The beasts were like nothing Dwali had ever seen -- far larger than a common member of their species but much smaller than the projected size of Shelob... if that was truely her name. Perhaps the stories are all wrong... there is no Shelob, just these fat horrors. It was all a rumor, fabricated by the orcs over time. The dwarf continued to muse, fighting through the crowds of snapping predators and keeping near Dorim. His confidence grew as enemies fell all around him, and the walls began to clear.

Huge spiders, hah! Children's tales, orc legends, it makes no difference. Shelob is but a -- "YAI!" The Dwarf's mental rant ended with a vocal scream, as two of the spiders fell off the ceiling and landed on his face. Without the use of his eyes, Dwali was virtually helpless... and so he ran. Straight through the unseen swarm, groping at his covered features. He was able to pull one off and smash the other with a fist before realizing that he had dropped his weapon, and was on the same token surrounded. The axe, almost invisible in the dimly lit cavern, was over twenty yards behind him. More importantly, however, the spiders were closing in; and the dwarf had nothing with which to defend himself.

Then Dorim was there, tossing Dwali a small axe and charging into the horde of opponents. The pair ripped through them, scattered the dead to both sides. After reaching Dwali's axe, they turned to look for Bror, but he was nowhere in sight. "We'd best hold here until he shows up," suggested the younger dwarf, axe swinging in a furious patern. His companion agreed, and they continued to fend off the spiders before them. Where are you now Shelob, Dwali thought in a taunting voice. Is this the terror of the passage?

Last edited by Himaran; 07-24-2004 at 04:04 PM.
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Old 07-16-2004, 03:01 PM   #77
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Silmaril Raeis

Raeis blinked in surprise as one of the Men leapt in front of her and, rather than attack her as she had expected from the hostile behaviour and harsh looks she had recieved since their escape from all of the men, he slashed viciously behind her. The elf ducked to one side as he did so...and heard a strange sort of miniature scream as a beast that had been lurking behind her fell dead, sliced in two. She looked up at the Man and, despite herself, she smiled at him, words not coming fast enough. A strange, bright light came into his green eyes as she did this and he flashed her a bright white grin back before turning and launching himself with a fierce energy at anything that came near them.

Why the Man had done that, Raeis didn't know, and for a moment, she stared dumbfounded at his back where he stood in front of her. Kindness had become something rather rare for the elf - a memory, an enigma which she had come to regard with suspicion. What was his motive? But still, he kept going - and in his position and his vigilance against the beasts which assailed them, he was effectively protecting Raeis as well. She allowed herself another smile, a quiet one, all to herself, then turned so that her left side was facing towards the man and her back to the cave wall beside her - a gesture of trust, for she since an 'interrogation' procedure in which the orcs had pressed the blade of a heated sword against her face, she could no longer see out of her left eye, save occasional, half-glimpses in black and white, seeming to work independantly from her right eye. As she began to fight against the beasts, using both her sword blade and the butt of her sword to fight them away from herself and the Man, she saw him glance at her, an expression of shock flitting across his open features. She didn't return his gaze, keeping her eyes on the foes.

Although she fought like a wildcat, her sinewy body moving fast and agily, using sword, hands, and even feet to counter the black spiders, and beside her the Man did the same, Raeis could feel herself being moved backwards. They were trying to stop her, to oppress her again. Push her back and make her feel small? The elf felt anger rise anew in her and she gave a fierce yell, throwing herself right into the fray. She heard the Man who she had fought beside cry out in surprise but paid no attention: the spiders were all around her now, and she had unsheathed the other knife she had kept, wielding it in her left hand. It wasn't as accurate, but what did that matter - they were all around now, no matter where she struck, she would hit something. Whipping out both arms viciously, the elf sliced through the fray in a sweeping arc across her whole body, teeth gritted fiercely and head thrown back, seeming to emit some power from inside like the warriors of Old. The spiders seemed to recoil from her touch, the touch of one so clean, full of the light of Eru, but only for a moment - they had advantages in numbers against the elf.

Nothing would have stopped her until she went right down, so completely in her element as she was, until her bare foot stubbed against something soft and warm and she stumbled backwards. The spiders swarmed forwards over her and she cried out in anger as the writhing black mass flowed over herself...and Jordo, the man-child who had attached himself to her. Once again, a fierce protective instinct hit her and she threw the spiders off her, dragging Jordo behind her with adrenaline-fuelled strength and she threw herself into one of the alcoves, behind the fray, hidden by a pile of rubble.

In the momentary respite, she propped Jordo against their impromtu barricade and looked him over, noting his breathing was infrequent and irregular, and the freely bleeding gash above his forehead. She shook him fiercely and he emitted a quiet whimper, but still she shook him again, panic-stricken. He will not die here - none of us will die here. We have escaped our captors - no monster's lair will finish us now! The vehement thought caused her to shake him again, slapping the side of his face until finally his eyes flickered open unsteadily. Raeis smiled down at him in relief - unaware of the huge, dark, many-legged shape that had begun to loom over her, it's shadow moving towards her and the other escapees...
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Old 07-16-2004, 04:33 PM   #78
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The great tidal surge that had become of the horrid monstrosities, continued to pound against the weary, but now united survivors, as the surf beats against the oceanic wall. Only their spur of the moment decisions to stand together, had been able to save them. Had they remained divided, the incessant assaults of the wretched, abominable creatures, would have flooded over them quickly. But despite their valor, the creatures continued to pour through openings in the walls and floor of the great cavern, which was soon becoming a death trap. The carnage that was sown throughout the room was immense, with the crumpled and broken bodies of the beasts littered the floor.

Morgoroth watched carefully from his darkened perch above the floor, as the spawn of the Tunnel pressed forward, on all fronts, surrounding each of the beleaguered refugees. The plan the creatures used was brilliant, from a tactical standpoint. The Elf, being safely hidden from the creatures, or at least not enough of a threat to them, was able to study this. The creatures constantly sacrificed their own, for the greater good of bringing down the prey that had wandered into their lair. This was all done, not out of stupidity, but of evolutionary genius. The creatures used sacrifice to gain position, and enhance their capabilities to attack from all sides.

But the Elf was not only watching the creatures swarm about the cavern. His eyes perceived in the dark, the entrances of which the creatures used to enter this feed ground. Few of the creatures used the small openings in the floor, save the less mature, and less deadly, foes. The older, larger, and more vicious of the kind, used opening in the walls. The immortal slowly began to devise a plan to end to assaults, not by overwhelming the creatures, which would be impossible, but by cunning and guile. The idea would be, to use the larger rock littering the floor, and those hanging from the ceiling, to block the creatures means of entering the room. But without the proper tools, his plans could not go into effect. Only the dwarves had enough physical strength to wield the tools necessary for this task. But the dwarves did not, or would not trust him, or his elven plans. But luck was with the Elf, for the Bror, the Dwarf he had rescued from the countless hoards that had planned to devour him, was regaining his consciousness.

The Dwarf awoke from his short slumber, induced by the poisons of the enemy, to the sounds of battle raging. He had known he had gone done in the fray, defending himself from the creatures, but he had expected his comrades would have saved him, not the tall Elf, whom he had words with outside the courtyard entrance. He was still slightly stunned, and a little sore, as the poison’s anesthetic powers had faded. His vision was initially blurred, and wavy, and he stumbled as he tried to gain his balance, whilst he was getting up. He looked up at the Elf, who had rescued him, and he his first thought was not one of thanks, but of curiosity, intertwined with a mix of hate and disgust for the haughty elf. But as he realized what the Elf had done, he began to change his attitude, if only temporarily.

The Elf sat motionless, listening to the dwarf moan and groan as he came back to his senses. He waited for the dwarf to recollect his mind, before he spoke. “Ah, you are awake once more. Good...we have a matter to discuss.” the Elf still did not move. The dwarf stared at the immortal for a few brief moments, and replied, “What business is there, other than the slaughter of these infernal wretches?” At this, Morgoroth twisted around at his waist, still hunched over, and met the gaze of the dwarf. “Our business pertains to this, and I will make it brief. You see, we cannot kill the beasts, for they will come endlessly. So we must kill their source of entry.” He paused, and watched Bror’s look go from one of curiosity, to one of confusion. The Elf continued to elaborate on his plan. “The creatures enter through holes in the wall, which you cannot see yet. If we can shut these up with the large rocks that are arrayed about the floor, and that hang from the ceiling, we can plug these points. Without them, the larger, more dangerous foes cannot bring battle to us.” The dwarf nodded, trying to follow Morgoroth’s hastened speech. “You and your brethren are the only ones that can put this plan into play, so I am counting on you to bring this plan to them, and secure its use.” The dwarf nodded once more, and moved his parched lips to speak, which were now tainted with a black stain from the poison that had entered his blood. “I will do this,” he replied to the immortal’s plan. “But I will need to get to them first.” Morgoroth scanned the dwarf, and then smiled wryly. “Come master dwarf, to the field of combat we go.”

Morgoroth knew as soon as they set foot below, that the spiders would surround them, and hack them to pieces, so he set about distracting them. He removed his bow from its place on his back, and set an arrow to rest upon it. He aimed it carefully at the ceiling, and fired, setting about a flash of bright sparks, that blinded and dazed the spiders, which were accustomed to total darkness. With his distraction in place, he leapt down from the alcove, with Bror close behind, who had seen the mind of the Elf, and guessed his plan. Together, the two, side by side, drove through the confused hordes, and making for the most narrow point, they fought to make way to their comrades.

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Old 07-16-2004, 04:50 PM   #79
Kransha
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From Plan to Action

Brór had never seen an Elvish mind before. In truth, he had not ‘seen’ it, with eye or mind or heart of his, but, as the elf pulled him from the fray of beasts and their kin, he’d seen a morality and a humanity he’d not seen in an Elf before that date. As well, when speaking, in their manner, Elves such as Morgoroth let their minds be slates to be read, not as open books were, but as a volume in which only a single page can be read, leaving one grasping for more. It was not displeasing to him, nor was it desirable, or thus desired, but affected him in a stranger way, souring and sweetening his rabid mood all at once, calming his lust but inflaming his pessimism, as if it were trying to change his very nature. It was dark, as he’d suspected in the corridors of Dark Elf’s soul, but bore an uncanny light to it. The Elf was projecting to him, to no one else, just to him. This elf, Morgoroth, had saved his undeserving life and, as much as Brór despised his kind, he could not help but be appreciative and grateful, though he never showed it. His face was a pale, pallid, and devoid of lively color as ever, but held a gentle gleam reflected in the dank pools of his eyes and a younger hue in the cloudy grayed hairs of his long, untamable beard. He felt, again, in his step and his look, a vigorous, youthful light that seemed to course and lance through his very veins, fording each river within in him in a second’s span. He knew at once that the Elf could be trusted, regardless of his prejudices (perhaps not all Elves, only this one), and hurried to accomplish the task he’d been assigned.

He now ran, slashing with a renewed reservoir of righteous fury aflame in his eyes. He hacked unmercifully, but now more lithe and quick, waltzing nimbly over the crawling, spluttering things that scurried around, above, and beside, following on the heels of Morgoroth as best he could. He pounced on the spider attackers continually, bashing in their shells of hides with his soaring mace, which rent the air up with its murderous grunts of crude satisfaction as the venomous shrieks it induced. He made his way, with Morgoroth swerving most nimbly from side to side, flanking him mostly and, with his singing bow, abating the assailants. Brór, meanwhile, located the greatest hills of earth and mounds of stone to uplift. He surged against them, sheathing his mace in a mere instant, latching it awkwardly to his side, and plowed full force into the jutting rocks, cracking and swaying them only. He cocked his trembling head to his companions, who were battling doggedly toward him, and cried out at the top of his gasping bass to them, with a powerful thunder in his throat again.

“Come, brethren! Dorim and Dwali, rally and fight! To me! To me!”

He pushed, his muscles straining, his armored arms plastered with the sweat of great toil. At his side, the noble but shadowy elf fought with what weapons he had, quelling the rampage of the beasts as they came, dodging and snaking about them to let their lunges shoot astray and their deadly fangs find solace only in the rock-hard earth of their cave. Morgoroth was a welcome distraction as Brór, his two eyes closed tightly and reddened as if the force of his new labor taxed every aspect of his existence. Slowly, the jagged crags of boulders and stones began to be uprooted from the tunnel floor, rolling off into cradling niches in the rock. With swift, clenched fists, Brór jammed his hands into each stone, rolling them slightly forward. The ploy was unsuccessful, but the rocks did manage to crush a number of hapless arachnids, squealing incoherently beneath their inanimate destroyers. He pushed onward, kicking and stabbing with his arms and legs, flailing madly to hamper the voracious creatures, he bashed at the boulders and chunks of earth, continuing to flatten and annihilate many more spiders, but still, he got no closer to any goal.

Suddenly, the rocks moved with a painless, delicate ease as Brór brushed ignobly against them, nearly slumping upon them in his weariness. He thought himself beleaguered by foes as he felt the air around him hot with the breath of living things, but, as his eyelids peeled open with a decaying crack, he took in the sight of his comrades, Dorim Stormweaver and Dwali, pressing themselves, unhesitant, against the rocks. A quick chorus of spider screams rose from the tunnel and its pitch tone echoed all through it as the three dwarves rolled one great stone and those that clung feebly to it towards a maw in the tunnel floor from which the spiders were issuing. As spider climbed the rolling rock and thrust themselves on the dwarves, swift arrows, alight with tails of sunlight, caught them in their skyward paths and threw them to the ground. They were the shafts of Morgoroth, fired in quick succession. They downed the spiders attempting to waylay them, to their gratitude. Pouring their concentration and their inherited strength into each step, the trio at last had the boulder of debris hovering a body’s length from the door in the earth. Just as a new tidal torrent of spiders surged up in a column from the hole, the rock fell, swiftly turning, and trapped them in their hiding spot beneath, wailing in evil protest.

The dwarves backed up, circumspect, and again drew their weapons, rolling stones with their movement to slay more creatures. They needed now to find new ammunition for their scheme. They hurried on and back, letting Morgoth’s bolts continue to afford them much needed time to uproot more. They heaved the rocks up, pulling the makeshift weaponry up with great strength and heaving each piece towards the most congealed masses of their foes, crushing and maiming many, sometimes overwhelming another entrance. As Brór sprinted readily onward, he turned with an almost gleeful look to his brothers in arms, who swiveled about him, batting haphazardly at the horde of enemies. Brór’s sudden uproar alerted them again, causing them to turn, still battling the multi-legged fiends.

“Go, my kindred,” he cried loudly, brandishing his cudgel in the dark air to signal to all who could see or hear that were now within, “and let us bring the skill of the Dwarves to this fight. Let Spiders vile try as they may, for if they slay us here, we shall drag them unto the depths before our breaths have been spent!” As he spoke in a raucous roar, passionately echoed by Dorim and Dwali, though still lost in the shadow, the war cry of the Dwarves was full and deep in his mind and his chest, flaring out as the sulfurous and tormenting flames in the breath of a dragon would. It felt as a hearth in his sole, rebuilt and lit with fires to illuminate all the darkest depths. “Baruk Khazâd! Khazâd aimênu!

Last edited by Kransha; 07-16-2004 at 05:58 PM.
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Old 07-17-2004, 09:23 AM   #80
Novnarwen
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Boots Rhând

Trapped in a circle with some of the others, facing the cruellest and most disgusting creatures of the Dark Land, Rhând grabbed the hilt of his sword and charged towards their attackers. Having great difficulties in keeping up with the ferocious battle, he threw his sword from side to side. From the sound and the feeling of thrusting the blade through flesh, he knew that he hit some of the creatures now and then. However, not being used to this kind of weaponry, (in fact not being used to any weapons), he thought he was doing a splendid job so far.

It scared him immensely that he felt exhausted after a few hits, and he was utterly terrified by seeing the dead monsters. It had never occurred to him that this could be so tiresome. He wanted to sink down on his knees; he needed rest. Knowing, naturally, that that would be suicide, he fought on. Alarmingly, he looked around for more enemies and more of the prisoners. He realised, that many of them were far more experienced than himself. This, he realised, bothered him terribly, because he knew he would have to be very careful. Getting into a warrior's way would be highly dangerous. Such experienced men could easily end his life.

“Come, brethren! Dorim and Dwali, rally and fight! To me! To me!”

A voice, masculine, rang in Rhând's ear and made echoes in the tunnel. Seeing clearly who the cry belonged to, but not being able to understand what the voice had pronounced, he gazed at the Dwarf with great surprise. At the dwarf's side was no other than the elf Rhând had bumped into when not paying attention to where he went. It was the elf Rhând was very tempted to kill. Why were they together? Were they not enemies as he had thought? Just earlier, while walking in the tunnel, before they had been attacked, Rhând had heard Zuromor offer his friendship. And now, the elves were joining the dwarves too. What about Brór's statement then, about not trusting neither men or elf? Had it been a trick? Why would they trick him? A thought so frightening, even Rhând felt his heart grow cold, struck him; perhaps they knew who he was! Maybe this whole thing was a scheme. They were after him, all of them! How could this happen? he wondered, not knowing for certain what to think anymore. But why hadn't they killed him off sooner, if they knew he was an Easterling and not who they first had been tricked into believing? Gritting his teeth, thrusting his sword into one of the beast's flesh, he said some foul words feeling the rage rise inside of him. All this stupidity! How much more was he to suffer? If they knew, it would surely be over. There would be no way they would let him live for long. He would have to escape as soon as possible. He would have to survive this, get out of the tunnel and leave them the second night under the sky.

Seeing to his left that there was a little crack in the wall, he sprang unnoticed in. It was just big enough for him to get a fair view of what was going on, without necessarily being spotted himself. Bathed in sweat now, shaking and trembling, he cast his gaze over at the dwarves who came darting towards Brór and the elf. He could seize this chance now. If they had figured him out, nothing mattered anymore. What was there to fight for? The prisoners would get their hands on him as soon as they were out of the tunnels. Shivering, and as a lightening the feeling of insecurity ran down his spine as well. What if they waited for the monster, the big monster, to take him? Rhând looked desperately around. The big monster, the spider, could be anywhere; waiting for him. They had arranged it. They had arranged for the spider to take him out of the twelve others! Those cursed filthy traitors! You shall pay . . They hadn't only betrayed him, by leaving him to the spider, but they had betrayed Him as well. There was no punishment that could make up for the damage these prisoners were about to cause. They had to die, one by one. With these thoughts in mind, he grabbed the dagger he had hidden from the others. "My darling, make the elf pay this time . . ," he whispered slowly as he held it in firm grip.

Praying to Him that he would hit his target, the elf, he breathed heavily half closing his eyes. How wonderfully well he would feel after ending his life, he thought happily. Not reluctant about the future event, he lifted his arm above his head, aimed, and . . . What was he thinking? He had already decided that twelve prisoners were the least he could do for his Master, and now he was about to kill one of them. What was driving him insane? Was it the air of Mordor, the beasts surrounding him, the current company or his fright? He could not afford this absurd behaviour. Filled with reproach for even thinking of letting down his Master, yes he would surely be letting Him down if he killed His prisoners, he hid the dagger again. The prisoners, all of them, should with Rhând's help return to the Master healthy and alive.

Still the thought of the others being aware of his lies lingered in his mind, suffocating him slowly.

They had found him in his little crevice. He would have to run for it.

Last edited by Novnarwen; 07-18-2004 at 12:56 PM. Reason: My 400th post! Whee! :)
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