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Old 10-25-2004, 08:37 PM   #121
Nuranar
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When Osric turned around Tarondo was standing before him, not a foot away. "Come here," he said crisply, and walked past the horses out into the dark. Osric hesitated for a moment, then followed.

Tarondo led the way around the edge of a towering boulder away from camp. "When we met in Rohan you asked to join our errand for the King. You said that you were greatly indebted to him and wished to be of service. Our errand is now in grave danger, and instead of assisting, you are further imperiling it." His voice was low-pitched but sharp, his words biting.

Osric flushed angrily, opened his mouth, but Tarondo would not give him an opening.

"By leaving camp on an errand for yourself, you endangered everyone left behind. You would not have troubled even to tell anyone, if I had not stopped you.

"You were thinking only of yourself and what you wanted. Did you not even consider finding the horse of Aidwain, which fled with yours? What about Veryadan? That man may die. He, above any of us, needs a horse.

"I want you to understand this very clearly: I am leading this errand. As the leader, I am responsible for ensuring that we work together. If everyone does as he pleases, those orcs and trolls will wipe us out.

"Thus far you have been a valued companion. But I expect you, as I expect everyone else, to follow my decisions. Tonight you did not. It must never happen again."

Osric met his gaze belligerently, tauntingly. But Tarondo did not look away, and soon Osric's eyes fell.

"Go back to the fire." The cold command in his voice left Osric no escape. He stalked back, sullen and silent.

Tarondo stood alone, back in the darkness beyond the boulder. Luinien stepped out of the shadows and moved to his side. "He's not happy."

Tarondo grimaced and shook his head. "Of course he's not. I would have preferred to leave him alone. But after the position he put me in, I had no choice. Veryadan's life - all of our lives - are worth far more than his self-love."

"I'll keep an eye on him," Luinien said softly. The brother and sister stood silent, side by side in the windless night, listening, thinking.

Luinien gave a sudden low laugh. "It just occurred to me," she said in reply to Tarondo's inquiry, "that Osric didn't bother to offer me any poison for my arrows. I wonder why?" Again her laugh rippled out through the night.


Meneltarmacil's post

Thoronmir sat with the others as they discussed what to do. Thoronmir was not seriously injured; the orc's hook had pierced the skin but hadn't affected the deeper areas a whole lot. It had been treated with healing herbs and then bandaged, and Thoronmir was definitely going to be fine.

However, the others were not as lucky. Veryadan in particular was severely injured in the battle and could die if he wasn't taken somewhere where he could get help soon. The party had decided to set out for Rivendell, which Thoronmir had reasoned was too far away, but the road to Bree was probably cut off behind them. They would have to try for it anyhow, regardless of distance.

Thoronimir had been talking to the man he had saved earlier, Andas Loudewater. They'd gotten to know each other fairly well by this point. Andas had told him about his home life, how his wife had always yelled at him until he had left on this journey. Thoronmir in turn talked of his life, the battles he had fought, and how he had become the leader of a sizable group of Rangers in the Hills of Evendim. It seems that he'd encountered Loudewater several years ago, when the Ranger had been on a patrol and had caught Loudewater as a child playing much farther away from home than he was supposed to be.

Osric later left to find his horse against Tarondo's orders, and Thoronmir noticed the Elf calling him away so the two could speak privately. As the Ranger was poisoning the last of his arrows, Osric returned with a dour expression on his face, Thoronmir could tell the man had been reprimanded rather harshly. He decided not to ask Osric about it and went to sleep for the night. They would have to leave the next morning.

Last edited by Nuranar; 10-26-2004 at 09:33 PM.
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Old 10-26-2004, 03:37 PM   #122
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It was Aidwain who took the last watch before morning. The campfire had burned down to a few smoldering coals and the others were all drowsing in the small camp when Veryadan called softly to the Elf. ‘The sun is nearly up, I see,’ he said raising himself slowly onto one elbow. ‘There is enough light, I think, for you to look for our horses.’ He grimaced a little as a painful spasm gripped his side. ‘The first two Trolls panicked them, as I recall. And they went running back down the track up which we came.’ He pushed himself up further, leaning his back against the flat face of a large rock. ‘I think if you find yours, mine will be near. He’s the sort who likes to stick with his companions.’

Aidwain woke Silruth, saying he would be back directly. The horses, he thought, had probably gone back to their previous camp, across the road a short ways, among the shelter of the trees. Tarondo had awoken by then and took the watch himself, sending the other two Elves on their errand.

It was an hour later when they returned, leading Veryadan’s horse back between their two. They had indeed been down by the old camp, near the little creek where the low growing bushes along the streamside still had a few wizened berries clinging to them.

The companions were all up when they returned. The fire had been put out, a cold meal taken in haste. Veryadan’s bandage had been reinforced, a binding made tight about it to allow him to sit upright on his horse. Aidwain had dismounted from his own horse and given Veryadan a leg up, so that he might mount more easily. By the time Veryadan had settled himself in his saddle, a fine bead of sweat had broken out along his upper lip and his face had turned quite pale. A new fellow, whom Veryadan had not met, rode up alongside him. Andas, he introduced himself as, Andas Loudewater of Bree. The man’s lengthy introduction of himself kept the Ranger’s mind focused on the unfolding of the story and off the discomfort whenever the horse’s gait jostled him.

+^+^+^+^+

The company kept to the East Road as they made their way toward the Last Bridge. It was wide enough for them to ride several abreast of each other, and the view to each side of the way was for the most part unobstructed. Enough so, that they could keep a wary watch for any enemy who might pursue them. With several short rest breaks on each day’s journey, and a late afternoon stop time, affording a long night’s rest, Veryadan was able to muster the strength to keep going each day.

It was on the second day, when they had just entered that part of the road that made its way between the low wooded, rolling hills to the south and the flat plains to the north with their scattered thickets of oaks and maples that they had the sense of some menace following closely along behind them. The watches were doubled that night as they made their camp and settled in for an uneasy rest.

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Old 10-26-2004, 03:39 PM   #123
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Broga sported a makeshift eyepatch over his left eye – an old piece of leather from one of the pouches they’d gotten when they’d raided the Whittleworth’s for gold. A piece of thin cording, appropriated from one of the Orcs packs, served to secure it round his lumpish head. Walking about in the dark, he’d discovered was difficult with only one eye. Distances were hard to tell, and several times he’d stepped down hard in a depression that was deeper than he’d thought or banged his toes on a rock that was higher. Grimm, of course, had hissed at him to keep quiet; they were supposed to be sneaking up on the camp.

They lumbered toward the little camp, trying to stay upwind from the horses. And trying also to make as little noise as possible. That is, until they drew near the picketed beasts.

‘Is it time now?’ asked Broga knife in hand. ‘Cut the rope, eh?’ he whispered as they arrived at the tree to which one end of the picket line was tied.

‘Wait til that fellow marches by with his bow. And keep real quiet til you can’t see him no more,’ Grimm returned. The two Trolls retreated a bit and hunkered down behind a rocky outcropping, their eyes peeking over the top at the horses. The sentry came and went. Broga and his brother crept nearer the line. The wind shifted for a moment, and the horses, nervous from their previous encounter with the Trolls, began moving restlessly at the dreaded scent.

Broga cut the line with an upward thrust of his blade. Snatching the large iron pot he’d placed on his head like a helmet, he beat upon it with the metal pommel of his knife, making a deafening racket. Added to that was the loud yelling Grimm had started. Both brothers ran after the horses as they fled, herding them in the direction of the other pair of siblings.

At a sign from Grimm, Broga broke off his horse chasing and headed back to the pre-arranged rendezvous with the Orcs. From their vantage point among the trees, the unwholesome alliance watched as the men and Elves struggled up from sleep and attempted to deal with the escaping equines.

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Old 10-27-2004, 02:26 PM   #124
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As the horses rumbled into the distance Arrald limped through the dark toward the camp of his enemies. His wounds still smarted terribly from the battle and his puny eyes blazed with hatred at the thought of the she-elf. He longed to feel her crumple beneath his club. . .

Behind him Dim stumbled in the dark, but Arrald was too focused on the task at hand to shush him, so Dim shushed himself. Arrald stopped and waited by a large rock. He rubbed it gently and chuckled to himself. "Yas," he drawled with small-minded glee. "This ought to do just nicely; just nicely indeed!"

"What will do, brother?"

Arrald wiped a drop of saliva from the corner of his mouth. "It will do to crush the limbs of a pretty little Elven maiden, me lad," he chuckled. "Those there horses as Broga and Grim have scared away are important to these invaders. Without them, see, they have no hope of getting away from us. So they needs to go after them."

Dim nodded. Then said, "I don't understand."

Arrald sighed quietly, wishing for the patience to deal with his slow witted brother. "Well," he began, "when they come running past this here rock, we're going to push it down this bank toward them. There are all those other nice rocks and boulders and dead logs, and we should be able to start quite a nice little avalanche. I should think that at least one or two of the invaders will have a very nasty surprise when they run down this way. . ."

Dim nodded once more. "Now I understand brother. I'll help you push it all down on them, smack!" and he clapped his hammy hands together in token of what would happen to their quarry.

"Yes, yes, that's good, but rememeber -- if that Elfy-girlie goes after the horses wih the rest be sure to watch for my signal. . .I'll want to make sure that this here boulder falls right on her pretty little head!"
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Old 10-27-2004, 05:53 PM   #125
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Tarondo awoke instantly when the racket broke out, hardly needing the terrified whinnies of the horses to know what had happened. As he buckled on his sword, a movement across the encampment caught his eye. "Hold it!" he snapped at Menecar, about to pursue the stampede. "What is it?" he demanded of Luinien, who came dashing up from watch on the far side.

"Trolls," she gasped. "They cut the picket line and stampeded them off to the east. Thoronmir says no one's out there right now."

"We need to get them back!" Menecar insisted, worry creasing his brow.

"We will. You come with me, you and" - he glanced around the circle - "Silrûth. Everyone else stay here. Do not leave until morning, but don't wait for us, either. This could be an ambush, or we may need to go a long ways. We can find you. Luinien is in charge until I return."

Without another word he strode away from the fire, Menecar and Silrûth behind him. Luinien broke the silence first. "Aidwain, will you take the rest of my watch? I'll wait up until morning and perhaps scout around a little. The rest of you had better go back to sleep until your watches."

Aidwain left, and slowly the camp settled down again. Luinien sat, wrapped in thought, by the dying embers of the fire. Finally she rose and went out into the night.

~ * ~ * ~ * ~

Menecar volunteered to follow the horses straight along the path they took, while Silrûth and Tarondo shadowed him on either side. They slipped silently through the rocks and trees some distance from the path, keeping up with his brisk walk.

Tarondo, on the north side, had actually outdistanced the Ranger some fifty yards when he heard a rumbly murmur directly ahead. Instantly he froze, then crept noiselessly toward the sound. Soon he discerned words as the voices carried more clearly. And they were definitely Troll voices.

"Are they here yet?"

"No. Be quiet."

One second passed.

"Why don't they hurry up?"

"I told you" - interrupted by the first.

"Somebody's coming!"

"Where?" Tarondo thought he could see a darker shape move up ahead, straining down the dark path for a glimpse of the approaching Ranger.

"There's only one, brother. Is it her?"

"Naw!" the second growled, disappointedly. "It's too big. But let's get it anyway. Come here. Now... heave!" Grunts and groans from ahead. Tarondo had heard enough.

He stood up and dashed to the road, running to cut off the Ranger before he reached the danger point. "Menecar!" he shouted. "Menecar, stop! Off the road!" Behind and to his left, hoarse Troll-bellows heralded the rush and crunch of the boulder as it left its bed. "Silrûth, get back! There are Trolls, starting a rockslide!" In a flurry of dead leaves he slid down onto the path, directly in front of Menecar. Grabbing the Ranger, he hurried away from the road, angling back to the west. Behind them a growing roar heralded the approach of the slide...

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Old 10-27-2004, 06:05 PM   #126
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Orc Thoughts

“C’mon. Lemme kill ‘im.” whined Búbkûr, a grimace maligning his already grotesque features. He was tired of listening to the rumble of commotion that issued from the trees beyond his reach. The trolls were doing their duty, of course, but that did not mean that he had to be pleased with the progress of the ridiculous plan underway. It was not his style, this hit-and-run harrasment of the enemy. He preferred head-on engagement, simple, blunt, crude, barbaric combat.

“Show some patience, will ye?” Gráthgrob snapped back, irked and cross, “This is a gradual process, one that takes time.” He was, as always, the voice of cold, ruthless orcish reason, which was not exactly to Búbkûr’s liking. The other orcs, though, worshipped his oversized brain, a fact that severely nauseated Búbkûr. He had never wished for intelligence, or the gratuitous gift of pretty speech. His own tongue was a fine tongue, and a tongue that suited him fine. Knowing big words and how to properly use them did not impress Búbkûr, and he thought it ought not to impress any other orc. As the orcs nearby, squatting, sitting, kneeling, and reclining on the forested earth, nodded in agreement, Gráthgrob continued. D’ya want to have fun with the fools, or just plain kill ‘em?” He was pushing his luck, assuredly, but Búbkûr was in no mood to get physical, or overly emotional about his opinions. Bâzzog had doubtless placed his affiliation with Gráthgrob, and thus, inadvertently, defeated anything the Búbkûr could think up.

“I’m quite partial to killin’ ‘em, actually.” The other orc retorted, wittily, for him. He grinned in an oafish manner, looking away to conceal the expression, as he considered the cleverness of his comment, but his moment of mental glory was severed and abruptly beheaded by a quieting growl and words from his commander, Bâzzog, who was peering darkly through the gnarled, low-hanging tree branches at the opposing camp far off. “Quiet!” he roared, though stifling his thunderous bass voice and is rippling, throaty undulation, “Ye want to wake the very dead with yer voice, glob? You’ll rouse the Elves and the tarks, that you will.”

This annoyed Bubkur further, but he thought back to the trite specifics of his wishes. His eagerness was fueled primarily by anger, and a want for vengeance. He’d never been as vilely injured by any man as he had been by that foul ranger. In fact, the most grievous incident and wound he’d experienced did not come from a Dúnadan, thus making the injury he’d been dealt all the greater to his easily inflatable ego. He was, within, filled from his bulky head to his talon-tipped toes with mad, incendiary rage at the nameless Ranger. This had been long considered since the skirmish at Weathertop, and afforded Búbkûr no little amount of grief and anguish, though only the kind of fiery, molten grief that an orc can experience.

“They’ll be up anyway, soon ‘nuff,” the lieutenant grumbled, sitting again, “…Jus’ lemme kill the one tark: the one who gave me this.” He indicated, coldly, the wound he’d been issued in the last combat, which now bore a ragged, tattered cloth bound across it tightly, stifling the flow of black, near-acidic fluid. “Lemme fill my hook up with his flesh and then ye can do what ye want.” He clawed and raked the air in illustration, but Bâzzog waved him down again. “Ye can have ‘im later,” he responded, unemotional and void of real feeling, “when the time is right.”

“It’s the bloody right time now! Sha!” Búbkûr cursed loudly, springing to his feet and sweeping his rusty hook hand in a simple arc, “If we don’t get to ‘em, the bloody ologs’ll kill ‘em!” Bâzzog turned, nearly swatting at him in his rage, and the mere look in his eye stabbed through Búbkûr, and the orc crumbled back into his seat feebly. “Worm!” Bâzzog spat, “The trolls couldn’t kill a paralyzed ox. They’ll just soften up the goodies for us, they will.” Búbkûr was, obviously, subdued by the statement, but he was determined to resist another defeat, and so, after his captain had glumly turned, he struggled to his feet, with a meeker air, and waddled over to the gangly orc bowman, Kransha, who stood erect in his usual place, somewhat distanced from the clump of orcs at this fringe of camp. Kransha’s calculating eyes were occupied, but a couple of rude pokes in the arm alerted him. Búbkûr, thinking of a vague, but workable possibility, posed a question to the seemingly mute uruk.

“Kransha, you figure you can hit one if’n ya get in a tree or somethin’?”

Eventually, Kransha nodded.

“See?” Búbkûr exclaimed, turning and yelling excitedly to Bâzzog, “‘E could hit ‘em! ‘E could kill ‘em as easy as those trolls! We oughtto jus’ let ‘im stun ‘em, or wound ‘em, or somethin’ and we can have ‘em all to ourselves!” Bâzzog spun again, moving, despite his rugged bulk, like a shadowy wraith borne on the winds, and flitted right up to Búbkûr, to within an inch of his flat face. Shocked, Búbkûr staggered and slipped into the dust with a heavy thud. “Pushdug,” the orc captain rasped, “o’ course ‘e can hit ‘em. But, if ‘e does it, we can’t ‘ave no fun. Now then, sit down and shut up. When they cross the Big Bridge, we can hit ‘em. Then ye’ll get yer chance. Ye can have all the tarks if ye really want. Kransha and I’ll handle the Elves. If all goes well, the trolls’ll get killed in the fray, and we can get back to Bree-land.”

Búbkûr nodded dumbly, questioning his own action, and scooted back into his place. After the outburst, the camp seemed dejected, and many eyes fixed on Bâzzog, each pair set before a different thought, a different contemplation. Some might have even been entertaining the possibility that Búbkûr had the right idea. Their voices dwindled, like the withering light in there eyes, and they turned their minds and words to other things, speaking in morose, conspiratorial whispers. But, Bâzzog did not seem content with their inaction. Suddenly, his dank grimness turned to a sickly merriment, and he swiveled and trounced forward and back, past his troops. “Don’t be down, lads.” He said, a smile twisted onto his face, and gleaming teeth peeking out of his mouth, “T’night’s a good night, with a sky of red, the kind that Gundabad was under. We’re in luck, boys, I assure ye. Let’s ‘ave a song fer the night, fer they’ll be blood in the mornin’.”
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Old 10-28-2004, 04:05 AM   #127
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While the fun of the night’s adventures was not to be denied, especially not to His Malevolance, Bâzzog, Grimm and Broga were growing restless. And hungry, very hungry. There had been no raids in the past few days, no lovely sheep, or goat, or stray creature of the four legged or two legged persuasion to roast on a spit or boil up for stew or just gnaw on raw. Broga had hoped to drag one of the Elves off as a prize from their last encounter, but he’d been denied this toothsome delight; his poor reward being a poke in the eye with an Elven arrow, instead.

‘I wants food . . . great hunks of meat . . . not anymore of these Orcish, dried-up travel-meats,’ grumbled Broga from under cover of the trees. Grimm’s belly rumbled loudly in the night, drawing snickers from several of the Orcs standing near. Snickers turned to squeals as Grimm grabbed up one of the creatures, grinning wolfishly at it. ‘I’m so hungry, brother,’ he crooned to Broga, ‘I could even eat one of these nasty tasting bugs!’ He clacked his great, snaggly teeth at the whimpering Orc and heaved it up into the branches of one of the nearby trees. Broga, a wicked gleam in his eye, reached out toward another of the Orcs, all of whom then quickly scattered well out of the grasp of the Trolls.

‘What say we get on down the road, like the Chief wanted,’ Grimm whispered. ‘Find us something fresh to eat.’ Grimm motioned for his brother to follow. Broga’s brow beetled. ‘The Chief?’ Grimm nodded, pulling his brother toward the eastern perimeter of their little stand of trees. ‘Little sneak attack, remember?’ Grimm prompted, his arm linked firmly with his brother’s. ‘The bridge . . . just before the Shaws?’ Broga’s face had gone blank; no flicker of recognition for these plans shown in his eye. He shrugged and followed along beside Grimm. No use in trying to dredge up facts that had leaked from his brain. He trusted his brother - If Grimm said it was the Chief’s plan, then the Chief’s plan it was. And besides . . . the thought of fresh meat caught along the way had set him drooling. Visions of marrow filled stag bones quickened his pace.

The brothers kept well off the road as they ran along. To their left and now just a bit behind them were some Elves and men haring after the spooked horses. The last of the rocks that Arald and Dim had pushed clattered down ineffectively to a resting place behind them. Broga and Grimm could hear the thumping of the other two Trolls as they ran from their ambush site. Arald, it seemed, had been thwarted in his attempts and was bellowing out his frustration. Grimm wondered aloud if those two would manage catch up to them. Four Trolls would mean more than one deer would need to be taken.

He was pondering this question as he ran along, when the jarring sounds of Orc voices rent the night air. Broga shook his head and urged his brother to an even faster pace. ‘Can’t stand what passes for Orcs singing,’ he snorted. ‘Like two polecats tied in a bag, what with all their hissing and yowling like.’ Grimm laughed at his brother’s assessment. ‘And those noises they always throw in at the ends of verses – like some buzzard choking on a day old skunk. No proper rhymin’ at all. Gives me a headache!’

In a low voice, Broga sang out a few lines from an old Troll ditty. Grimm grinned and joined in, the cadence of the verses making their feet fly.

Troll sat alone on his seat of stone,
And munched and mumbled a bare old bone;
For many a year he had gnawed it near,
For meat was hard to come by.
Done by! Gum by!
In a cave in the hills he dwelt alone,
And meat was hard to come by . . .


-----
- from The Adventures of Tom Bombadil, ‘The Stone Troll’, J.R.R.Tolkien
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Old 10-28-2004, 08:35 AM   #128
Saurreg
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Somewhere upon white cliffs, a small green tortoise is thinking about flying…

But eight hundred miles and several time zones away, Loudewater was sitting cross-legged and creating chicken scratch with a twig in hand. It all happened too fast for the simple farmer’s mind to fully grasp the development of things. He was starting to think that perhaps tagging along with the Gondor’s finest was perhaps not the highest item in his to-do-list. But when the huge and impossibly stone-faced Tarando stood before him, there was nothing else to do but to agree with all terms under the withering stare of glaring elven eyes.

”Louderwater!”

“s,”

”You will travel with us, do you hear?”

“s,”

“You will do exactly what I say, yes?”

“s,”

“Good. Now take off your pants…”

Of course the above conversation never took place, but the farmer was very sure that if he did not agree to stipulated terms of treaty (or capitulation), the elf was going to put those huge powerful hands around his scrawny throat and squeeze just to see if eyes of Bree farmers’ eyes pop out from their sockets if the applied pressure was about right.

Old stone face wasn’t around. He, the incredibly tall elven amazon (whom Loudewater quickly decided has a “do-not-mess-with-me-or-I’ll-squeeze-till-your-eyes-pop” demeanor) as well as Thoronmir’s younger companion (a pleasant chap) had gone off to find out what happened to some of their mounts.

At least killer had the sense not go bolting around at the slightest spook. Either that or the mule was too dumb.

Loudewater felt eyes upon him and looked up from his doodling.

“Loudewater,” a mellow voice intoned across the fire. It was Thoronmir, the ranger who saved him.

“Yes sir?”, queried Loudewater meekly.

“Firstly, you need not address me as sir. I did not ask you to do so and neither does current circumstances warrant for it. Thoronmir will suffice,”

“Yes sir… erm I meant Thoronmir,”

“And secondly, do not think unkindly of us my friend. I can tell from the way you brood, that you are starting to feel unhappy with the development of events. Tarando wishes that you join us only for your own safety. The roads as you’ve seen for yourself today are no longer safe. Rest assured that once the situation permits, you will be allowed to return home unmolested and unharmed. This I pledge on my honor as a ranger of the king,”

The ranger gave Loudewater a wane smile,

“Trust me my friend.”

Loudewater looked at Thoronmir and could not help but break into a smile of his own. He was struck by the ranger’s sincerity and knew that he wanted to trust the man wholeheartedly.

“Yes… Thoronmir,” Replied the farmer awkwardly, “I apologize if my behavior has been rude and insulting to you and… and your companions. I trust you… friend.”

The ranger smiled again and this time there was genuine warmth.

Loudewater threw the useless piece of twig away and suddenly felt his stomach rumble. The pang of hunger made Loudewater remember that he had not eaten for an entire day. He looked towards Killer’s saddle and was relieved that his bulging fanny pack and flask were still firmly secured. Loudewater got up, made his way to the mule and removed the said attachments. He then returned to the circle around the fire and announced to all those who were still awake,

“I erm… left me house with some provisions to sustain me on the way. Seeing that nobody’s in the mood to gather or hunt, or that it’s even possible under such circumstances, I’ll be more than happy to share.”

The Rohirrm Osric whom Loudewater learned also played a part in saving his life, had returned to the camp. The farmer beckoned the newcomer to join him as he sat down, emptied the contents of his bag and proceeded to pass them around to anyone interested in good nature.

He was tempted to go and shake the very badly wrecked Verdayan awake violently so that he could eat (a wounded man needs to sustain his strength even more, no?).

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Old 10-28-2004, 03:18 PM   #129
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Sting

Osric sat beside Loudewater, in a foul mood. He accepted the food gratefully. Delving into his saddlebags, which he had fortunately brought in before the trolls bolted the horses again, he produced a few flasks of ale and passed them around.

Finishing his meal, Osric took out his whetstone and started sharpening his knives. He made small talk with Andas as he did so. That fool Tarondo had gone prancing off just after attempting to correct Osric, but they were going to have a talk, when he returned.

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Old 10-28-2004, 05:04 PM   #130
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The slide had rumbled to a stop in the rough ground just on the other side of the path. Tarondo and Menecar found Silrûth waiting for them. From the sound of it, the Trolls, foiled by the failure of the rockslide, were not in pursuit. But that was no reason to wait around. Wordlessly the three ran on through the darkness.

The horses were huddled in a hollow scarcely a thousand yards further. Riding their own mounts bareback, they led the rest in a wide circle to the south. The land seemed alive with crashings and creakings, as if all the Trolls of the north were coming down upon them.


The eastern sky was turning grey when they reached camp once more. Not until he dismounted did Tarondo see Thoronmir, standing motionless against the trunk of a twisted tree. "How has it been?" he asked as Silrûth and Menecar rode up. Tiredly the three led the horses toward the erstwhile picket line.

"Not a sound since you left. I made your sister get some sleep, about two hours ago."

"You did? Good for you." Tarondo surveyed the land, shadowed and vague in the beginning light. "Those Trolls are still about, and they're planning. There are orcs, too. Silrûth and I both knew it, although we never saw them. I know the horses are tired, but we need to leave as soon as there's light enough."

Thoronmir looked at him critically. "The horses aren't the only ones that are tired. You need to rest. Come on, I'll call you in an hour."

Experienced campaigners, Menecar and Silrûth were already snatching what sleep that they could. Tarondo smiled ruefully. "You win."


By the time the sun rose above the mountains, the companions were in the saddle and several miles down the road. Stampedes and rockslides? Tarondo thought. We can handle that. If only they don't get any more ideas...

Still ahead of them lay the Last Bridge, their halfway mark. But beyond it, the Trollshaws.

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Old 10-29-2004, 12:12 AM   #131
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‘Here’s our path,’ cried Grimm, motioning the others closer. ‘Can’t hardly see it, brother,’ grunted Broga, who had grown tired of their long hours of running. Two deer only they’d seen and those small does. ‘No time for cooking,’ he’d been told. ‘Got to eat them on the fly. We’re to be ready when the Chief drives the men and Elves to us.’

Arald and Dim peered down the faint and overgrown track the Grimm had spied. Choked with fallen stones and trees it was, but they could tell that at one time it had been much used. It was a wide path, really, though the low growing grasses had crept in upon its edges. Someone or ones, strong of arm and heavy feet had made it. Old trees had been cut or pushed over, and large rocks had been split in two or heaved aside to make the way.

Down the track and through the dense fir trees they lumbered until they came at last to the stone walled foot of a hill. Grimm hurried ahead, halting as he reached a door hanging crookedly ajar on a great metal hinge. ‘This is it,’ said Grimm with a satisfied grin. ‘Now to see if the old buzzard’s home.’

‘Harry!’ the voices called out; one of them yelling into the dark, littered cave, the others bellowing about the camp. ‘Wonder where he’s got to,’ Broga muttered, following Grimm down through a thick wooded slope to a clearing a little ways away. Three Trolls the others could see – one was stooping while the other two stared at him. ‘What’s ‘e bendin’ over for?’ asked Dim, craning his neck to see. Arald inched forward, his great foot stepping on a downed branch. Crack! The snapping sound echoed in the area but Trolls in the clearing did not move. ‘Must be deaf!’ Dim said. He frowned as Broga chuckled. ‘ ‘ere! what’s so funny?’ said Arald wondering if the three Trolls they were spying on were of the hospitable sort.

A great rumbling voice startled the four lurkers from behind. ‘They’re deaf alright, and stone to boot, poor sods. Kilt by some wizard afore the war. Now what are you four doing in my little bailiwick?’

Grimm came forward and made the greetings for the group, reminding Harry of their distant relation. A few questions from Harry resolved the truth of the blood connection for him and he invited the four to share in a large pot of mutton stew he had going at his little place further along near the creek. Rested and well fed, the four Trolls invited Harry to have a bit of fun with them. They spoke of how the Orcs were driving some men and Elves to the bridge and how they had promised to harass the small group from the east while the Orcs pressed them from the west. Grimm looked up to see where old yellow face was in the sky. ‘In fact, if we amble back to the clearing where the Stone Trolls are, we can find ourselves some good places to swoop down on the blighters.’ Harry was none too sure about working with Orcs, but Grimm just shrugged, saying, ‘They get in your way, just mash ‘em.’

-o-o-o-o-o-o-

Harry elected to take up a position atop a large rocky formation that stood to one side of the clearing. There were plenty of loose boulders strewn on its surface that he intended to rain down on the foe. The four other Trolls hid in the shadows of the thick stands of fir that ringed the area, spacing them selves about the clearing.

Now all there was, was to wait for the Orcs to drive their quarry to them . .

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Old 10-29-2004, 03:56 PM   #132
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Sting

The third day of riding brought them in sight of the bridge, Veryadan could smell the muddy flats that lay along the length of this part of the Hoarwell. The rains had been more frequent of late in this area, he guessed, since the smell was not as cloying as in high summer when the water ran narrow in its channel. The companions had pulled up just before the bridge. Tarondo had sent a scout ahead to see if there were signs of the enemy that could be made out. There were Orcs, number unknown, who had followed along behind them as they made their way along the road. But they were always just out of site, and the companions had decided not to hunt them at this point but to flee with all haste to the safety of Rivendell.

Veryadan’s eyes took in the areas to the north and south of the road. Forested areas here to the north, but set off a ways from the road edge – still he wondered how many Orcs were watching as they neared the river. To the south were low, rolling hills, less apt to provide places for the enemy to hide, though yet . . .

His right hand reached to where the bandage was secured. What herbs they had used seemed to be doing some good. There had been very little bleeding this last day, though there was some increase if he twisted his torso too much. To fully heal, he knew would require the remedies available from the healers at the Last Homely House. He flexed his left hand and carefully raised the arm up and down. Full feeling had not come back until yesterday, late, and the muscles still felt weak, his grip tenuous.

The scout had come back, saying there had been no sign that he could find, save for the fact that the birds seemed unusually silent in the fir forest that stood beyond the bridge. ‘That, yes,’ thought Veryadan, ‘and the heavy feeling I have as if the darkness beneath the vows is waiting.’ The ranger urged his horse up to where Luinien was stopped. ‘Bind me a little tighter, if you will,’ he said to her, handing a length of clothe one of his caregivers had placed in his pack. Once done, he pulled his boiled leather jerkin back into place and checked the lacings on his vambraces. Loosening the strap that secured his blade, he nodded to Tarondo. ‘Take the lead. Let’s make our way across the bridge, then.’ Osric and Aidwain brought up the rear, weapons ready.

The clip-clop of the horses’ hooves over the stone bridge sounded loud against the waiting silence of the trees. The companions followed the needle strewn path that led under the thick layers of boughs. The last two had barely passed under when stinging arrows flew at them from behind a few of the trees.

‘The Orcs are upon us!’ Veryadan cried, spurring his horse along. ‘Make for the clearing a little ways on,’ one of the other Rangers shouted. ‘We’ll regroup there to make our stand.’

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Old 10-29-2004, 06:01 PM   #133
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The Battle of Teryggond

The twanging of bowstrings resounded and the whistle of arrows, rending the wind and air, resounded through the dank corridors of the fir forest. From the thickets and ample cover of the furry shrubs in the forest, uruk archers rained down an assortment of narrow, jagged bolts onto the company of their opponents. Before, beneath, and beside them rang the clang of hoof against earth as the enemy group’s horses bolted and panicked, though they were soon set under control by their riders. The riders galloped swiftly from the open and into the checkered shadow of the trees, concealing their silhouettes from the orcish archers. But, the archers persevered, firing frantically into the woods. They did not lose their organization, but maintained order, and fired in the direction of the horse’s neighs and maddened whinnies, their arrows puncturing the hanging branches and rustling the higher bushes. Arrows, tipped with liquid red, stabbed harshly into the soft earth and cracked asunder the stones that lay by the wayside with their strength. Many bolts pockmarked the path of the riders, filling up the earth where the tracks of their horses were printed mere moments after they passed by, gallivanting forward at great, hurried speeds.

“Fire! Fire!” Búbkûr’s voice continued to speak, crying out in its raspy, thick tone that burnt the ears of those who heard it with its vileness. Not disposed to ranged weaponry, Búbkûr had busied himself with the exercise of leaping up and down, to and fro, and brandishing his hook profusely, stabbing and hacking in the supposed direction of the enemy. Hotly, he jumped forth from the trees, jabbing forward and back, as the nine orcs crowded around him fired a single, unending volley, a hail of arrows falling from their crude, short-bows. Some, who were not apt with bows, were armed with other weapons that could be shot or thrown. Two had a small supply of crude javelins, short hunks of wood with sharpened tips that fell gracelessly and lacked accuracy, but would be deadly at close range. Two more of Búbkûr’s nine bore crossbows, probably stolen and not of orcish manufacturing, for they were more lithe and comely, though they had been tainted with stains of blood and mud by the orcs who bore them.

Not too far off, on the other side of the trodden path that the enemies were taking, was the troop commanded by Kransha. Bâzzog, who had again not deigned to engage in combat, had split the force of twenty-five uruks that was to corner and lure the opposing force into a trolly trap into two distinct parts. One, consisting of ten orcs, including Bubkur, was the melee unit, technically, whereas a group of orcs who had been trained specially by Kransha had been put under the command of their silent educator. They were providing the more precise, and efficient archery from the cover of the trees. That company numbered fifteen, to Bubkur’s ten, which was a point that made him mildly irate, but did not distract him. He was busy enough thinking about what he would do to that tark-dug who’d dared to hurt him when he got his hands on him.

“Keep them down, boys!” cried Búbkûr, his fervency still fresh and full, “Fire low!” He maneuvered to the side, and his section of the orcish troop moved gradually with him, edging towards the destination they had been assigned. They were drivers, meant to direct the tarks and Elves to a designated locale, one where the trolls, who now lay in wait at the ready, could overcome and subdue them with relative ease. In addition, the orcs would be able to spread their forces and herd the fools right into the area, so they’d be hopelessly surrounded. The very thought of this cruel but satisfying action brought a grim smile to Búbkûr’s wretched face, and he licked his lips, balling his one hand into a tightly clenched fist. With a number of gestures, he pointed his men towards the clearing where the trolls bided their time. He caught obscure glimpses of the other troop of orcs, who were still raining fire down on the orcish quarry.

Thrakul!” he bellowed in the Black Speech, his voice carrying through and over the dense underbrush to Kransha’s company, and then turned to his own men. “You four,” he said hastily, indicating the two orcs with crossbows, and two with bows, “keep firing. The rest of you, get moving. Drive ‘em to the clearing.” The four remaining, as well as Búbkûr, turned tail and ran, dashing recklessly through the forest, past various woodland obstacles, attempting to head off and herd the Rangers and Elves, and their mighty-voiced mounts. They surged toward the clearing, where slivers of vague light from above penetrated the shade of the forest, and the dusty beams shone down on a trio of figures, who stood stock still, their outlines blazoned against the darkened greens and browns behind them. Búbkûr ignored to still figures, though, and concentrated his weak mind at the task as hand. He crowded his own men, who put up their ranged armaments, save for the two javelineers, who turned their weapons up in their grasping, wrenching arms and waved them as stabbing spears. The orcs poured forth, with the hail from the other orc troop raining on their foes before them.

“Take down the horses!” roared Búbkûr, “Attack!”

The orcs, not mounted, ruptured their ranks and dove at the braying steeds. In the first moments of the direct combat, one of the orcs was kicked full in the face by the iron-hard hooves of a horse, and, bleeding and twitching fitfully, the first casualty rolled limp into the dust beneath a weeping shrub. Only slightly irked, Búbkûr carried on. The company was not yet in the clearing, not yet near enough the trolls. Búbkûr, as his men charged forward, followed by the four archers from behind, still firing without aim, turned his head towards the outcropping and slopes where Kransha’s orcs were perched and cried out, “Find Kransha! Gimbata!” at the faces he saw poking out from between swaying branches, slipping into his own tongue again as the command flew out of him. Moments later, the arrow rain had increased, and the bolts grew in accuracy. In a flash, one horse of the many had gone down, riddled with arrows. As his eyes returned to the fray, Bubkur recognized the rider as that tark who’d injured him.

Before he knew it, his legs were carrying him in huge bounds forward towards the man as he rolled from beneath the empty ruin of his still flailing steed.

At this moment, the second troop burst through the trees, and the battle began in earnest. From behind the Stone Trolls, and the forested objects opposite the orcs, five trolls issued, roaring madly and gleefully as they fell on their prey. The battle moved too swiftly from the trolls to the opened clearing as orc, Ranger, Elf, and Troll clashed at the central point. The arrows abruptly stopped whizzing, and their swift sounds were replaced by the loathsome cackles of orcs as they strove forward. One of Kransha’s troop, a surly fellow with a curvy knife and a shield that looked as if it might be have been a table-top once, tackled the Rohirrim from his horse, and the two wrestled in the dirt as the other orcs closed in, with trolls a-clobbering on the other side of the field. The battle had begun…

And, up on the sloping hill from whence the orcs had come, stood Kransha, searching for a target…
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Old 10-29-2004, 07:03 PM   #134
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Eye Bubkur and Menecar die, Thoronmir takes a poisoned arrow from Kransha

Thoronmir urged his horse faster. The orcs had come out of nowhere and were now gaining on them. He had just reached the huge petrified trolls in the clearing when his horse fell to the ground, dead from several arrows. was in serious trouble. His horse had been killed off and was pinning him to the ground, and he was now in the middle of the Stone Trolls facing off against a big orc, the same, in fact, who'd fought him earlier at Weathertop. The orc, violently enraged even by orcish standards, raised a gigantic curved butcher-knife of a sword over his head and swung. It hit the ground right next to Thoronmir, who barely managed to twist away in time. With a lot of effort in a fairly short time, the ranger pulled his long knife loose from under the horse's body and jammed it into the orc's foot, who howled in pain and rage. Thoronmir got out from under the horse during that brief interval and turned to face his attacker, who had just pulled the knife out of his foot. Thoronmir swung at the orc with his sword, but the stroke was blocked by the orc's falchion. Thoronmir tried to duck away, but the orc managed to hit Thoronmir in the side with his hook, knocking the wind out of him. Suddenly, the orc was hit by an arrow as Menecar dashed onto the scene followed by Andas Loudewater. More orcs appeared, and Thoronmir managed to get back his strength, pick his knife back up, and fight. He slew two who were trying to get at Loudewater, using the three stone trolls as cover before turning back toward the huge orc who, if it was even possible, was even angrier than before. Menecar tried to tackle the orc as Thoronmir swung his sword, but at the last second the orc flung Menecar off him and ducked Thoronmir's swing. Thoronmir looked and saw that Menecar had crashed headfirst into one of the stone trolls, probably dead. Thoronmir, in grief and rage, hit the orc so swiftly with his sword that neither one was aware of what had happened. The orc staggered backward, blood oozing out of a gaping wound in his stomach. He ran at Thoronmir in a murderous rage, not knowing anything except that the ranger must be killed at any cost. Thoronmir ducked and rolled to the side out of pure instinct to avoid the orc's rage. The orc, however, couldn't stop his momentum and plunged at full speed into one of the petrified trolls. The weathered stone behemoth rocked back and forth from the impact, then toppled over, crushing the huge orc along with several others of his kind.

Thoronmir got up, turning to fight the still-numerous orcs. Suddenly, he saw one on a nearby hill, taking aim with his bow directly at Andas Loudewater.

"Look out!" the ranger said, pushing the farmer to the side. The arrow from the orc's bow, meant for Loudewater, instead scored a direct hit on Thoronmir's left arm...

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Old 10-29-2004, 07:46 PM   #135
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Tarondo's horse, maddened by the darts of the orcs, had carried him past the clearing where the stone trolls stooped. Hurriedly checking the animal, he wheeled and plunged back into the fracas. Tarondo had rarely fought on horseback before. Although he had a considerable advantage over the dismounted orcs, it took all his skill to control his terrified mount. All his faculties were focused on riding and striking at the orcs that rose up before him.

An orc, trying to even the odds, flung itself forward, wooden spear aimed for the horse. Just in time Tarondo parried, splintering the weapon. Even as he lopped off the orc's head, he heard a dull thud. Glancing up as a flicker of movement caught his eye, he saw one of the statues move. An instant of bewildered disbelief, then Tarondo spurred his horse... But that instant cost him dear. A huge arm, broken on impact, ricocheted off the ground and struck the horse broadside.

The force of the impact threw Tarondo to earth. Rolling over, he grasped for his sword and scrambled to his feet. Abruptly Thoronmir staggered into him, an arrow in his arm. "He's good!" the Ranger gasped. "Up there - he has a bow."

"Let me at him!" growled a rough voice in his ear. Osric stood at his elbow, spattered with orc blood.

Tarondo looked up the hill and saw the dark figure of an orc, looking for another target. Even as Tarondo sprang forward, Osric on his heels, the orc saw him. Tarondo saw the gleam in his eye as he sighted down the arrow for one instant. Even as his mind told his feet to dodge, he knew it was too late.

Just as released the taut string, a Troll-flung boulder sliced the air between them. The next instant something struck Tarondo hard just above the knee. The joint buckled immediately and his momentum slammed him into the hill. Osric rushed past without a glance.

Then the pain hit, biting and clawing, as if the arrowhead were burrowing in with malevolent energy. Clenching his teeth, Tarondo grasped the shaft and wrenched the arrow out. Swiftly he tore cloth from his tunic and bandaged the wound. Even as he stood, leaning on his sword for support, his eyes turned not up the hill but down. Where is Luinien?

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Old 10-29-2004, 11:56 PM   #136
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Veryadan’s only thought was to cleave his way through to the other side of the clearing. He fought as he could from the saddle of his mount, slashing savagely at the Orcs who darted in with their jagged edged swords. Several had scored glancing blows against his boots and one bowman had driven an arrow into his thigh. He was wearying. The twisting and turning from side to side had torn open the gash in his flank; he could feel the blood beginning to seep from the saturated bandage and run down his side.

Two Orcs went down beneath his blade as they rushed him. Another rushed forward, slashing Veryadan’s horse hard across the chest. The horse reared, finishing off the Orc under his sharp hooves. The Ranger saw a small opening in the ranks of the attackers and kicked his horse hard in the flanks. He’d almost made it to the far side when some large missile hit his left shoulder and knocked him from his mount. He clung to the sword in his right hand as the force of the blow made him skid along the dirt on the clearing floor. He pushed himself to an upright position, just in time to see one of the Trolls bring down his horse with a blow from his large club.

As he bent to rip the horse’s leg from its shoulder, the Troll’s back was to Veryadan. Mustering what strength was left to him, the Ranger charged the Troll, his blade leveled at the back of the creature’s leg. He drove it in, forcing it deep with the weight of his body behind it. The Troll roared at the pain, his leg buckling beneath him. With a blind blow at the man behind him, the Troll sent Veryadan reeling back against the unyielding leg of one of the Stone Trolls, the man’s sword clattering from his hands as his body came to an abrupt stop.

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Old 10-30-2004, 04:37 AM   #137
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Loudewater hit the ground face-first and took a mouthful of dried leaves and dirt. He spun around and discovered that Thoronmir was injured – the shaft and feathered end of an arrow sticking out of his arm. The ranger was learning against a large stone outcrop, face turning deathly white and sweating as he fought hard to catch his breath.

Loudewater scrambled onto his feet and rushed to his injured companion’s side.

“Thoronmir! You are wounded!”

There was nothing much the panicky farmer could do. He could dress little cuts or create slings for broken arms, but to assist one who has been injured by a dart of war was beyond him. Loudewater was gripped by a sense of lost as he looked around for the other riders, hopping that someone had seen the incident and was coming to their aid.

But that was not to be. The ambush was far greater than it was at Weathertop and every single rider was fighting desperately for his or her own life against overwhelming odds. As Loudewater looked about terror-struck, he saw the pathetic corpse of Thoronmir’s young companion – Menecar, face down and lying motionless. There was a gapping wound on late ranger’s head where fresh blood poured out profusely surrounding the body in a crimson pool.

Through the din of clashing blades and demonic war howls, Loudewater’s hearing picked out deep grunting that was getting louder and louder. He looked in the direction where the sound was coming from and saw to his horror that a huge orc was bounding towards him and Thoronmir. The beastly humanoid was getting closer and closer with every movement of its greatly muscled limbs and the deadly glare of its feral yellow eyes filled him with a sense of dread.

Loudewater shrieked in terror as he back stepped clumsily and crushed into the wounded Thoronmir who grunted in pain. Loudewater turned back and saw the brave ranger grimacing in pain as he valiantly attempted to step forwards and engage this new foe.

It came to him uninvited and unexpected when Lenny taunted him…

The orc came closer and as he did, it raised a huge black scimitar and roared triumphantly,

It came to him on the morning after and infused him with great happiness and hope…

There were new orcs who had found their nerves under this new leader and there were also advancing, with less confidence but nevertheless, still advancing.

It deserted him at Weathertop and left him witless and timidly again…

“Loudewater! Get behind me!” Thoronmir commanded as he mustered his strength to overcome the poisonous barb. The orcs were getting closer, some were flanking out to the sides. Loudewater and Thoronmir were like fish caught in a closing net.

And now it’s back with a vengeance…

“NO!” Loudewater roared in a voice that was not his own. Pushing the injured ranger back, he leapt and placed himself before the orc and its intended prey.

The great beast came to a clattering halt and faced the farmer hesitantly. This was an unusual prey. A prey whose eye’s known shone mad with a maniacal fire.

“Get back you brute! Or… or face the fiery of Andas Loudewater, man of Bree!” stammered the farmer excitedly as he drew his dagger out from its sheath. The blade, Loudewater noted with some satisfaction, seemed to glimmer with the faint quicksilver.

“Luurrggwarger… luurrgwarger?” repeated the mystified huge orc silently. It body suddenly convulsed uncontrollably. Suddenly, it threw its mane covered head back and howled with hysterical laughter. It was laughing at Loudewater’s name. The rest of the lesser orcs joined in. They started chanting his name in jest.

The hood of Loudewater’s cope covered the eyes of his lowered head. The dagger hilt held so tightly that the farmer’s hand was trembling.

“Do you think that’s funny brute? Do you think my name is funny, beast? DO YAH, YOU PIECE OF DEAD MEAT! ARRAGGHH!!!!!”

Loudewater leapt forwards faster than he ever recalled moving before. By sheer inertia and surprise he crashed into the huge orc and knocked it over. With uncanny reflexes, he actually got the better of the orc and sat on its barrelled chest in a schoolboy pin. The thrashing orc tried to push the farmer off him, but adrenaline gave Loudewater a burst of strength and he continued to pin the orc under him. Sensing that it’s doom was near, the great orc did what its kind could only do under such circumstances.

It whimpered.

But fate has dealt the orc a cruel deck. For here was not Loudewater, the gentle farmer from Bree. This was Loudewater the angel of death. This was Loudewater struggling with a bad bout of midlife crisis.

“Whimper? You brute?” asked Loudewater sardonically in an unusually calm and quiet voice,

“It doesn’t matter, because today is a very good day to die. Remember this day well beast, FOR IT HAS BEEN YOUR LAST!”

With that last shout, Loudewater raised his dagger high and with all the fiery and strength he could muster, plunged it into the face of the beast. The immense blow split the bulbous nose of the creature in half and drove through the skull, crushing dense bone with unusual strength. Bearing resistance to the tip of the dagger suddenly reduced and the farmer found himself being able to drive his blade further in with ease. All the while, the orc’s body thrashed in its death throes about like a marionette whose strings were being jerked about. The dying body went into uncontrollable spasms and started defecating as it lost control of its bowel functions. Strong paws grasped at anything they could get a hold off and found Loudewater’s thighs and even then their strength faded and finally went limp.

As loudewater finally wrenched the dagger from the puncture he created, a jet of black ichor emitted from the cavity of the skull splashed onto Loudewater’s face, covering him in orcish life essence. Loudewater licked at the hot steaming liquid and smiled. He relished the taste.

Like hydraulic pistons, the arms of Loudewater continued to pull and plunge his dagger into the smashed head of the orc. Loudewater laughed as he continued the mutilation.

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Old 10-30-2004, 12:32 PM   #138
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The unsettling silence was broken by the swift wailing of arrows. Their horses grew mad with horror as they raced into the trees.

As a flurry of devilish orc arrows was loosed upon them the enemy set upon them in raging fury. Already the battle was being lost, as horses fell alongside their brave noble riders.

Falma reared breaking the neck of a slimy black rampaging orc. It didn't halt them for a moment, heaving grunts were heard before rocks and boulders were seen flying through the air.

As her companions were tossed about like play things of a reckless child she was nearly un-horsed by a creature howling with glee. Her sword quickly saw to the problem dismembering the head from the body.

Still another came flying at her, black sword in hand, her horse shrieking desperately trying to kick at it. A fleeting thougt of using her bow was extinguished, too close its too close, she frantically swiped at the orc with her blade, taking a slice out of his arm.

Though it cried out and backed away in pain, the orc seemed all the more enticed to take the Elf down. Yet again the orc came at her brandishing his curved sword, this time he wasn't so fortunate, the Elf cut the sword from his arm the hand still clinging to it; Falma in a rage picked up the nasty tasting orc with her mouth and whipped him into the air trampling him when he came wailing back to the ground.

Silrûth raced about her hair flying out behind her like a golden banner, frantically trying to find her companions through the debri and shouting. Two Stone Trolls had fallen and she could only fear the worst for her friends when Aidwain leapt by still on his horse.

She could not help but smile at his fortune.

Silrûth thought she heard the clear call of Luinen's voice, her attentions were turned to Tarondo who was galloping back to get Thoronmir. Her and Aidwain quickly turned their horses onto the enemy and engaged them as best they could.

With every stroke another orc was forcefully brought down by the skilled Elves, with every stroke they were slowly brought closer to escape.

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Old 10-30-2004, 04:10 PM   #139
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Sting

The whistling of arrows broke the eerie silence of the clearing. Osric's sword was in his hand in an instant, parrying arrows as he urged his mount forward with the rest of the group. He had just time to see Thoronmir's mount crumple beneath him, pincushioned, before a large orc with a curving dagger and a shield the size of a table tackled Osric from Shadow's back. Osric hit the ground with the incredible weight of the Orc atop him, knocking the wind out of him. They wrestled on the ground for a moment before one of Osric's knives found it's home in the foul creature's soft underbelly.

Throwing the creature off of him easily, Osric scrambled to his feet. An impossibly huge orc wielding an S-shaped sword the size of a door loomed up before him, snarling. Osric drove his sword through the heart and the tip come out his back. Drawing his sword out, he swiftly decapitated another Orc. Osric found himself beside Tarando and Thoronmir, who had an arrow in his arm. "He's good, up there with the bow." Thoronmir gestured to a tall Orc atop the hill. Without a word, Tarando and Osric set off at a run.

One of the Orc's arrows struck Tarando, knocking him down, but Osric was focused on his prey. He ran forward, faster than he had ever run before, intent on killing the Orc which wreaked such havoc. There was a sharp pain as one of the arrows crashed into Osric's leg just below the knee. Roaring in agony, Osric staggered the last few yards to stand before his enemy. With one clean slash he split the bow in half with his sword. Summoning his strength, he drove his fist into the Orc's face.
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Old 10-30-2004, 04:21 PM   #140
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The Orc and the Eorlinga

Kransha wasn’t exactly used to pain. It had been a long time, perhaps too long, since the flames of physical distress had burned him. With a muted grunt, he swayed and lurched backward, feeling, and hearing, a sickly crunch of bone when a white-knuckled fist bashed his jaw. His jowls contorted irately as the orc staggered, and he let go of the shattered remnants of his bow, drawing both clawed hands to his face. Blood, sable and viscous, coursed over the backs of his hands, wound rivers down his arms, and dripped onto the trampled grass below, but Kransha sucked in the unwholesome substance and looked up just in time to see another fist coming at him, with the fire of a Man of Éothéod unwavering behind it. But, the orc, despite his wound, his loss of armament, and his severe disorientation, was ready for the blow as it came.

His bloodstained hand shot forward and up, the unclipped talons jutting from his bony fingers curling, vicious as the teeth of a wolf and closing. As the closed fist surged, Kransha’s cold digits closed, locking around the hand of the Rohirrim. Their came a stifled cry from the man, that would’ve have been a full-fledged scream of pain from any man who had not been trained as a warrior. Groaning as the fingers constricted, The Rohirrim fell to his knees, weakened by the wound to his leg and the hold on his hand. Kransha, his bloody mouth worming its way into an ignoble grin, wrenched the hand and arm back, twisting it about, but the Rohirrim did not react this time. Kransha’s meager tuft of an eyebrow arched curiously, but did not realize the reason for this lack of response until it was almost too late. From beneath the hunched over form, an arm bearing a sword shot out, thrusting swiftly at the orc’s chest. Kransha barely had the quickness in him to maneuver sideways and grab the wrist of the offending arm, pulling to aside to deject the blade. The Rohirrim, ignoring pain in hand and leg, struggled to his feet and pushed forward, forcing Kransha backward along the hillside at gaining speed until the two, still grappling, fell to the earth and rolled down the slope.

The two, caught in a wrestling match on the ground, crashed through shallow brakes as they tumbled onto level terrain. Locked together, they kicked at each other madly, but could not break free of their hold on each other. At last, a swift head-butt from the Rohirrim dislodged Kransha. Losing his grip, the uruk fell from his quarry, and slid into the grass, throwing himself up as soon as his legs would allow. He shook his head fiercely, effacing the numbness that diffused through his half-cracked skull. Thankfully, the orc’s bald cranium was brazen in its hardness, and he quickly recovered. Now, his hands each moved to his flanks, and from the taut belt that was wrapped around his waste he drew two blades, each of different size and type: one a scimitar-like weapon, curved and elegant, in an orcish way, the other a jagged knife, shorter and more vulgar, but just as deadly to the touch. Baring his teeth and clasping the pair of blades, Kransha plunged at the Rohirrim as he got to his feet. The orc’s first attack was blocked with a curt maneuver when the Rohirrim simply arced his blade upward, knocking the two knives away. Unfazed, Kransha swung again, and this time the jagged rungs of his knife latched onto the man’s flailing sword. The man tugged at his weapon, yanking Kransha forward so much that he did not gain the needed momentum to attack efficiently with his other knife. Again, the two found themselves locked, but standing this time. Each pull, each subtle tug carried the two about in circles and loops, but Kransha gained the upper hand and thrust his knife away from the sword of the man of Rohan as he turned again.

The effect of this tactic was both good and bad. The force of it was so great that Kransha lost his hold on his own blade, and the knife was propelled out of his sweat-soaked palm, but it also pulled the Rohirrim’s sword from him. Both weapons flew up and, still melded together as one, skidded to the ground just beneath one of the two remaining stone trolls. The Rohirrim, without hesitation, sprinted towards his needed sword where it lay beneath the troll. Kransha turned and tried to pounce upon him, but there was great strength in him, even as his leg leaked blood onto the grass, and Kransha could not catch up until the two of them had dashed through the battle that raged about them and reached the trolls. The Rohirrim dove and Kransha fell as well upon the lump of earth where the two serpentine weapons lay entangled. Kransha’s knife lanced downward, hoping to impale the wretched man where he landed, but the Rohirrim’s hand grabbed his sword and extricated it from the teeth of Kransha’s dagger, flinging himself sideways so that the iron tongue of the orc found only dirt to slay. Roaring with hellish fury, the orc turned on his knee, pulling up the blade in his position and taking his abandoned one from its bed beneath the troll, but he could not attack. The Rohirrim was already upon him.

Kransha pitched backward as a mad slash lopped at the air a hair’s breadth short of his throat. He found himself backed up against the creased leg and knee of the stone troll, who stood oblivious to all that occurred around him. Seeing, at that time, no other solution, Kransha laced his gangly arm around the solidified limb and swung himself backwards and around, pivoting onto the immobilized creature. He pulled his lightweight form onto the troll’s waist and balanced behind its leg as the sword of the Rohirrim jetted forward. The cold steel did not find Kransha, but it found the stone troll’s leg and speared through it, the very tip bursting out of the other side where Kransha was precariously balanced. The tip found the orc’s flesh, and penetrated, making a shallow stab wound in his stomach. With no more than an annoyed grunt, the orc fell from his perch, but as he lurched upward, he saw the man trying, very unsuccessfully, to remove his sword: it was stuck in the stone troll’s leg. Grinning, Kransha pounced, dismissing the pain from his injury, and struck the Rohirrim full in the face with the hilt of his knife. The man fell back, away from his sword, and the orc took this as his chance. Snaking around the stone troll, he swung his longer scimitar into a downward position and arched it down upon the Rohirrim foe…

But the blow never found its mark.

Kransha’s gaze was averted by a noise as his knife plunged. A troll, huge and galumphing, raucous in his course, suddenly flew between Kransha and his mark. The great, bulky form, danced awkwardly across the land, nearly crushing both combatants beneath it. Kransha did not know where it was going, but he had a feeling it did not know fully either. Either way, the wretched beast forced him to leap back with all his might, so as not to be crushed. As the troll passed, he dragged his terrible weapon behind him lazily, and it bashed against the stone troll who the live one had stumbled past. As the troll continued, reeling and swaying like a drunken man, the inanimate form that hung its side-turned head over Kransha reeled as well, and then its extended arm, already cracked, was marred by a rippling wave of splinters in the rock. The great arm instantly broke from its place at the troll’s shoulder and fell with a resounding thud onto the grass. Barely seconds later, the weakened figure, its foundations all but gone, quivered and sprawled face down on the field with a thunderous crash, sending up a geyser of dust and dirt that shot up, spraying the combatants, and several others nearby, with debris and a smoggy cloud that billowed over the terrain before promptly wafting up and away.

When the dust settled, Kransha looked up to see only one stone troll remaining, of the three that had been there before. He looked around, almost frantic, for his foe, but saw no Rohirrim amongst the crumbled boulders and shards of rock. The Rohirrim might have been crushed by the stone troll colossus, but Kransha doubted it – he knew better. Spitting darkly onto the wreck, he turned away and searched for new quarry, scanning the field, and poking carelessly at the bleeding hole in his stomach.

Last edited by Kransha; 10-30-2004 at 05:49 PM.
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Old 10-31-2004, 02:21 AM   #141
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Harry tried to stand. He shoved himself up on one arm and rolled up onto his good leg. He chanced a glance behind him; the puny man who’d stuck him in his knee lay on the ground. Breathing still, unfortunately, he noted, but looking quite the worse for wear. Grunting, Harry pushed himself up on his unaffected limb. ‘Ten steps,’ he thought to himself, ‘and I’ll pound that Tark into worm food. He lurched forward three steps, dragging his wounded leg behind him. The battle swarmed around him . . . and unfortunately in front of him. A group of Orcs, all armed with metal tipped lances, swarmed across his path as he took another step forward. He growled at them, swatting at them with his mighty arm. In a rage, they shook their staves at him, swirling round him closer and closer.

Those behind the Troll prodded him with the sharp tips of their lances, enraging him further. He brought his arm round with a roar, intending to drive them away. But with only one leg to balance on, he toppled over, falling face forward onto the Orcs. Five were caught beneath his massive bulk. Two of them managed to squirm out from under the fallen Troll, but three were crushed. One unseen outcome from this unfortunate encounter between Troll and Orcs was that several of the Orc lances had been plunged deeply into Harry’s innards as he fell on them.

Grimm and Broga were on the other side of the clearing. The Orcs, it seemed, had incapacitated a number of the men and Elves. Let them finish, thought Grimm. ‘Hey brother, what say we let them Orcs have their fun. Was some stew left, weren’t there? Down by the creek.’ He glanced around, looking for Harry. ‘You seen Harry,’ he asked Broga.

An outraged squeak escaped from Broga. He raised his hand, pointing with a stubby finger toward where Harry lay; the Orc lances sticking out from beneath him, along with a hairy Orc foot or two or three. ‘Them Orcs has gone and done him in!’

The two brothers went lumbering toward their downed relative, knocking Orcs from their path as they went. Two especially pugnacious Orcs rattled their swords, bellowing at the Trolls to move out of their way. Broga knocked them both down with his club. Grimm finished them off as he planted his big foot squarely in each of the Orc backs and stepped down hard, crushing them.

‘Come on, Harry,’ urged Grimm when they reached him. ‘These little toothpicks can’t have done you all that bad.’ The two brothers bent down and pulled Harry up, placing his arm across their shoulders.

‘Boys,’ he wheezed, limping along on his one good leg between his two rescuers, ‘I feel just about done for.’

Grimm, getting a firmer grip on Harry as he hoisted him up just a bit more, shushed the wounded Troll. ‘Save your breath. We’ll have you fixed up in no time. Why a cuppa your stew and them holes in your innards’ll be plugged good as new.’

Harry gazed at Grimm, a spark of hope in his glazed eyes. Broga, seeing the streams of blood oozing from Harry’s wounds, pressed his lips together and said nothing.
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Old 10-31-2004, 10:40 AM   #142
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In the initial charge into the clearing, Luinien's mare had displayed an unexpected belligerence, striking down the first orc in her path. But the creature's weapon nicked her at it fell, she bolted into the trees.

It was only the surprise, however, and the mare responded gradually as Luinien reined her in. Suddenly she twisted and ducked under an small branch. Luinien, concentrating wholly on her mount, never had a chance. It struck her right across the body at shoulder height and knocked her clean off the horse.

For some time Luinien lay flat on her back, gasping, staining to get the air back in her heaving lungs. After some time her eyes focused on the branch above her, still quivering slightly. It was a young branch, she saw; young and supple. If it had been any bigger, I might have broken something, she thought. Or have I? She rolled to her side and used her arms to push herself to a sitting position, then grasped a nearby sapling and stood up. So far, so good, she thought shakily.

Her dizzy gaze steadied and Luinien took one step toward the clearing, now a hundred yards behind. For some reason she glanced back. There was her horse, standing only a little beyond the unlucky branch. The mare took a sheepish step towards her as Luinien turned. "I hope you're ashamed of yourself," she told the mare. Ten seconds later she was riding back to the battle.

The clearing was littered with bodies, mostly orc - she was afraid to look closer - and the fragments of two petrified trolls. Even as she rode up three trolls were lumbering away. But there were still two - two? - and a handful of orcs. Silrûth was still mounted, as was Aidwain. A quick glance spied Veryadan and Thoronmir on the ground, clearly wounded.

"Luinien!" Tarondo was leaning against a tree, barely able to stand. "We need to get out of here!"

She quickly rode to him and slid down. "Where are you hurt?" She tried to make him sit down, but he shook her off.

"An arrow in the leg. I will be all right for now." He lurched away from the tree and grasped the saddle. "If I go get the wounded, can you keep the enemy off with your bow?"

She frowned. "You need help, you cannot help them. Stay here with the bow while I get them."

Tarondo looked at the bow, shook his head. "I can get Andas to help me. He is not hurt. And you were born to use that bow. This is your place, and mine is down there." With a sudden effort he hoisted himself into the saddle. Sitting almost sideways, letting his injured leg hang free, he rode swiftly down into the clearing.

Luinien shouted, gaining the other two Elves' attention, and gestured to her brother. As he and Andas labored to get Thoronmir into the saddle, Silrûth and Aidwain threw themselves upon the remaining orcs. When the two remaining trolls prepared to charge the group, Luinien began shooting at them from the top of the hill. Her position was ideal, commanding the entire area. There had stood the orc who shot both Thoronmir and Tarondo. Great archers think alike.

The Elves were being pressed back when finally Tarondo gave a shout. Three horses, one carrying double, broke for the road, followed by Loudewater's little brown mule. Silrûth and Aidwain were retreating slowly across the clearing, still occupying the dwindling orcs.

By now the Trolls, thoroughly enraged at the persistent little archer, were halfway up the hill. Belatedly realizing that she was about to be left behind, Luinien gave a parting shot and took off diagonally down the hill. Cutting through the trees, she reached the path just as Silrûth and Aidwain made a break for it. Aidwain gave a shout and gestured. As he came by she swung up behind him. Looking back, she saw the orcs give chase, but none raised a bow and they soon vanished around a bend in the path.

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Old 11-01-2004, 12:05 AM   #143
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Loudewater rode silently along side the wounded Thoronmir as killer struggled to match the pace of the ranger's greater steed. The farmer was concened for his friend who was still ghastly pale and alittle wobbly. But at least the poison on the arrow was mild and Thoronmir's condition was not deterioting. The ranger caught Loudewater staring at him and gave the latter a tough man's wry smile.

The battle was going very badly for the investigators and their troublesome guest from Bree, but somehow a dispute between the orcs and trolls arose and that together with the spectacular skill at arms of the two warriors - Aidwain and Silrûth made escape possible - but just barely. Loudewater smiled to himself when he recalled how he nearly turned and struck Thoronmir in the face when he forcibly pryed him off the dead orc - his dead orc.

But the novelty had worn off and now the man from Bree rued that he smelt of dead orc. The dark gooey orcish ichor had also coagulated, staining his brown tunic badly. But compared to the rest of the ocmpany, he was in good shape.

Veryadan was the worst off. He had fought magnificently whilst already badly injured and now his injuries had worsen. Osric was riding on the same mount as him, holding the semi-retired leader of the pack in his firm arms and trying to avoid jolting the saddle as much as possible to reduce any potentially fatal discomfort to his ward. Loudewater feared for the worst.

Tarando was also injured but not as severely as Veryadan. Loudewater suspected that his elven constituent helped for the new leader still rode at the front, upright and alert with his sister Luinien by his side. The air of calmness and self-confidence this warrior of the older race exuded was reassuring.

Menecar was dead and chances were, the orcs were having fun with his corpse now. Loudewater shuddered to imagine that he might one day see the same troop of orcs displaying a pole with the dead ranger's head stuck on top of a pole as some sort of a bizzare trophy.

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Old 11-01-2004, 10:54 AM   #144
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They had ridden toward the Bruinen all the rest of that day, and through the night. It was a desperate flight with horses and riders exhausted from the pace. Sturdy as he was, Andas’ mule was hard put to keep up with the others. Long before the sun had risen the small group had strung out along the road from fatigue and flagging spirits. Should the enemy come upon them now, they would be easily picked off.

Veryadan rode with Osric; the strength of the man from Rohan’s arms had kept him upright and the sound of the man’s voice speaking low to him as he fought his way back to consciousness swept back the grey veil that had overwhelmed his senses. He was weak, very weak. His thoughts were muzzy as they rode along, and the searing pain where his side had been reopened was so constant now that it, too, proved difficult to think beyond it.

Someone called a halt just as first light broke over the trees that lined the road. The companions gathered, slipping off their mounts gratefully. Their muscles ached from riding; their bellies grumbled as those who had not lost their packs in the battle hauled out dried meat and fruits and skins of water to slake their thirst. It was a small quiet moment that would not last. All too soon, Tarondo was urging them back to their lathered mounts.

Motioning to Luinien, Veryadan gathered his thoughts about him as best he could. Osric had recounted for him the events of the battle. ‘We cannot stand against them another time. The Trolls, I understand, still remain at four, and though we downed a number of the Orcs, still I doubt that was the whole of their host that came against us.’ He drew a ragged breath and jutted his chin toward where the Bruinen lay and Rivendell just beyond it. ‘Send one of the Elves who was not wounded in the last battle to Rivendell for help. Silruth or Aidwain. Their horses are Elven bred and can find the reserves needed to bear their rider in haste.’

Luininen spoke with Tarondo. Aidwain was sent off, his mount’s hooves tearing up the road as he made his way east to the river. ‘Help me up,’ said Veryadan as Osric brought round his horse. The Ranger lurched to his feet, steadied by Osric’s hand. Then, grasping tightly to the horse’s mane, he leveraged himself up once more with a boost up from the other man. ‘We have a good half day ahead of us to reach the ford,’ he heard Osric say as he took his position behind. Veryadan handed him the reins, his own hands holding tight to the edge of the saddle to steady himself. ‘Let us hope we reach the river before darkness falls,’ he heard someone say on a nearby horse as they started off. ‘Let us hope’ the Ranger said quietly to himself, ‘that we reach the river at all.’

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Old 11-02-2004, 12:43 PM   #145
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Harry was dead. Not so much as a bite of stew had passed his lips when he gave a great gurgle, rolled up his eyes, and slumped to his side. ‘Well, that’s it, brother,’ Broga said, giving his cousin a poke with his finger to see if he’d come round at all.

Grimm shook his head. ‘Shouldna happened!’ he rasped out. It was not often that Trolls were bested in battle.

‘Bad luck for our Harry, wasn’t it?’ returned Broga. In Troll fashion he’d already been picking over the few things of interest that the dead Troll had on him – some linked metal chain wrapped about his wrist, shiny once when it was newer; a long sharp knife in a ragged sheath, the handle big enough for a comfortable Troll grip; and there, by the now congealing pot of stew, a lovely metal stirring spoon, heavy, long-handled, serviceable as both weapon and cooking utensil. Broga tucked it in his belt, or rather in Harry’s belt which he’d acquired for himself. He heard Grimm muttering near him and a brief moment of guilt assailed him. ‘Here,’ he said, offering the treasured spoon to his brother. ‘Take it if you like. And quit yer muttering. I didn’t mean to edge you out of what there was. G’wan now. Take it.’ He held out the spoon to Grimm.

‘It ain’t about the spoon,’ Grimm said, pushing it away. ‘And it weren’t bad luck what done Harry in.’ His eyes narrowed and he spit a great gobbet on the ground as if to rid himself of something nasty tasting. ‘It were them Elves and tarks – pokin’ their noses in our business. It’s them what started it. But stone and bone, it was them dumb as sheep Orcs what made the final blow. We was on their side, and they turned on Harry.’ He snorted. ‘They shoulda let us pound them others when we had the chance.’

‘Never liked them Orcs all that much, anyways,’ nodded Broga. ‘Though they was good at finding gold and such.’ The dislike of Elves and Rangers was a given, not requiring a comment.

‘Well, I say we thump ‘em all, brother,’ said Grimm, a feral look lighting his eyes. For emphasis, he drew his hammer from his belt and whacked it down hard on the ground, startling a small group of crows who were beginning to take charge of the downed Troll. The crows rose up in a black cloud, cawing their displeasure. Broga looked up at them then turned to his brother with a questioning look on his face. ‘How we going to do that, Grimm. We been left behind. They all moved on – man, Elf, and Orc.’

‘Run, brother!’ Grimm took off eastward, motioning for Broga to follow along.

The endurance of Trolls is legendary. They ran at a steady pace, their long strides eating up the miles. The men and Elves would head for the shallows that crossed the river on the border of the Elven land. The Orcs, they reckoned, would want to catch them before they stepped foot in that foul Elf place. Too dangerous by half, those hard-eyed Elves and their nasty bows. The Trolls kept north of the road, running through the familiar hills and forested tracks. It was nearing evening when the saw the river through the trees. A wide band of shining silver, the last light of the sun over the tree tops glinting off it. A small thicket of poplar and scrubby bush afforded them a vantage point to the north of the ford. They would see whichever group came first. Plenty of fist sized rocks were scattered about, handy for hurling.

Grimm and Broga hunkered down, their eyes peering through the tangle of leaves. Broga’s thick club was in his right hand, thumping softly against the hard palm of his left . . . waiting . . .

‘You know,’ he whispered, nudging Grimm on the arm. ‘I been doin some thinking while we ran.’ Grimm looked at him in surprise, wondering what his brother had come up with. ‘That north place was big enough. No reason we can’t take over some of it for our own. Let them Orcs do their own work.’

Grimm chuckled low. ‘That’s my brother!’ He rubbed the side of jaw as a thought came to him. ‘Wonder if old Arald and his brother might want to get in on it? We’ll have to see once we get this here over and done with.’

The distant sounds of some group moving through the trees as they approached the wide bank of the river silenced the two Trolls. They waited to see which group would come first . . .
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Old 11-02-2004, 08:34 PM   #146
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Eye

They had ridden hard for the last couple of days, and Thoronmir was barely hanging on. The poison was weakening him slowly, although the ranger was trying not to notice it. Menecar, his companion and admirer of many years, was now dead and the grief weakened Thoronmir much more than the poison ever could. Riding Menecar's horse since Thoronmir's own had fallen, it was all the ranger could do to keep going. Andas Loudewater kept talking to Thoronmir whenever the ranger was straying into unconsciousness so as to keep him awake.

They crossed several hills and valleys and passed a number of streams, but no orcs or trolls had appeared. Nevertheless, Thoronmir knew they were out there. After a while, they drew near the Ford of Bruinen and Thoronmir grew more hopeful. Rivendell was not far away. However, Thoronmir could swear he had heard some kind of large crashing noise not too far away...
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Old 11-03-2004, 04:31 PM   #147
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The last days had become something of a blur to Arrald -- for Dim, they were more of an opaque haze through which he could no longer see without squinting. The fighting had been good, and the running, but the plans and the plots. . .these were all too much for him. Arrald was little better off. He had, at first, tried to keep up with the developments, but it had proven beyond him. All he clung to know was what he'd been told by the orcs who'd been sent to them by that orky chieftan, the Big One now in charge. "Wait here," they'd said, "and crush whoever comes down that road!"

This was easy enough, and so they sat and waited. Arrald could smell Broga and Grimm somewhere about but he didn't care to speak with them. In the last battle, they'd been of little enough use to him when that Elfy girlie had come at him so hard with her nasty arrows, and he wasn't about to forget or forgive that. He rubbed the wounds in his behind and shifted once more to make himself comfortable. No matter what else happened this day, he would crush that Elf. . .

"Brother," Dim said beside him.

"What!" Arrald was brittle with anger and the desire to kill, and in no mood to answer his brother's questions. Dim seemed not to notice.

"I'm not so sure brother that this is going to work out for us."

This caught Arrald's attention. "What do you mean?" He glared at his brother. "We'll rip these nasty creatures to pieces and then we can get out of this cursed Elvish land and go back to our nice cave. Oh, I do hope that the wolves haven't got to that last nice piece of mutton as we stored away in the back."

"It will have gone all rancid now, brother. We'll have to cook it extra long to burn out the rot, and maybe flavour it with sommat from the ground."

Arrald made a face. "You eat nasty plants that grow in the dirt. I'll sticks to mutton. The rot is what gives it flavour after all."

They were silent for a time with the hunger. Dim spoke again. "But like I said, brother, I do hope we can get back to that mutton. I have an odd fear of what's going to happen to us. Twice now we've gone after those invaders and twice we got a bit worse than we gave. If we really go at them a third time like the orcky's say. . .well. . ."

"Well what?" Arrald barked.

"Well, I don't know as we'll be able to enjoy that mutton." Arrald no longer seemed to be listening to his brother. He was staring hard down the Road, his nostrils flaring wide with the scent of approaching prey. "Brother," Dim began again. "If we don't make it back to our cave, I'd just like to say. . ."

"Sssh!" Arrald hissed between his teeth. He pointed toward the Road with his club. "They're coming!"
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Old 11-03-2004, 07:42 PM   #148
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The road ran steadily downhill, but their horses were stumbling with weariness. Tarondo and Luinien both rode on Menecar's big horse. Luinien's mare bore Thoronmir, picking her way delicately down the path to spare the wounded Ranger. Silrûth, inscrutable and implacable, brought up the rear.

Tarondo knew that the enemy was not done yet. As they drew nearer to the Ford without seeing hide nor hair of orc or troll, his certainty grew. The blow would fall just before the Ford.

Red rock walls soared up on either side of them. They were in the cutting, scarcely a mile from the river. Tarondo turned his head slightly, caught Luinien's eye. She nodded. They were ready.

When they rode out of the cutting, there was the river. And running down from the north were orcs, trying to cut them off.

"Ride! Ride now!" Tarondo shouted. "Get across the Ford!" Spurring their horses, they managed a wavering canter. The orcs were mobbing right across the way, but more and more were joining them... Tarondo's eyes followed the stream of them to the left, fixed on the one figure not running. "There's the leader! Can you get him?" he called back to his sister. She shouted something, but he couldn't hear, shook his head. They were virtually on top of the orcs now.

Suddenly the pressure of her hands disappeared from his waist. Even as he turned his head he knew what he would see: Luinien was rolling to her feet, drawing back her bow, aiming at the leader, as he had asked. Just that One glance, then his sword was in his hand and he was plunged into the skirmish.

Luinien could shoot from horseback. She had seen the head orc, calculated the shot, and rejected the chances even before Tarondo had finished speaking. The only way to make it would be from the ground. Some movement to her right meant the orcs had spotted her, but Luinien ignored them and took careful aim.

The orc should had frozen, then fallen with the arrow in its throat. Instead, it made two quick movements: One, a half-step of irritation at a fool who couldn't understand directions, and two, a jerky spin as the arrow drove into the muscle of its arm.

Luinien exclaimed sharply in disgust. As she drew her bow again, a blur thundered by in a cloud of dust - Silrûth on Falma! Luinien shifted position, trying to keep the Elf out of her line of sight. A flicker of motion at the corner of her eye - the orcs! She whirled and released.

The ear-splitting bellow that followed belonged to no orc. Luinien stepped back. "Not again!" she moaned. Two trolls - the same two trolls? - were lumbering toward her, one limping with her arrow in its thigh. She fitted another arrow to the string, alternately rejoicing that she had the foresight to count her arrows and deploring that she had so few. It would take more than six arrows to bring down two trolls.

Luinien hit the first one again, in the same place, trying to cripple it. But they still moved fast. It was like a desperate game: the Elf shooting, then scrambling away, having to keep far enough ahead to aim properly. It was hard enough without trying to work back to the Ford, closer to the rest of her companions. After her last arrow, she would have only her dirk. And what if there were no companions left?

It took three precious arrows to bring the first to the ground. Even then the brute was up again, dragging its leg, falling, but always coming on. She tried for the throat on the second, but twice her shots only pierced shoulder and back muscle. Bow drawn, last arrow, she waited. It charged down on her, raised its club, and she shot. Nearly straight up, into the hollow between the collarbone.

The troll's body stiffened in the midst of its charge. Momentum carried the huge bulk over, and one of the legs sent Luinien sprawling as she tried to get out of the way. Gasping, she looked up into the vicious beady eyes of the second troll, reaching for her. Rolling away, she drew her dirk and slashed at its grasping, rock-hard fist. The troll roared and jerked back, then swiped at her, claws extended.

The huge fingers caught her around the back, flung her aside. Luinien slammed into the uneven end of a flood-deposited boulder, heard - or felt - a snap. The shock of the impact blurred all sensations together...

Menecar's horse had gone down fighting. Tarondo's bad leg had collapsed when he first tried to stand on it, but Osric had covered him. Then the two fought together, back to back. Tarondo had no idea where anyone else was, and he had no chance to look. He did not think anyone had made it over the Ford.

For some reason Luinien's cry, barely audible above the din, penetrated to his consciousness. He shot a sudden agonized glance back up the road; no Luinien, but the looming bulk of the troll was enough.

With a sudden attack he drove through the ring of orcs, hewing down those who did not clear. Tarondo saw the troll sweep his sister onto the rocks. He covered the last few yards at a dead run.

The troll did not want to be any nearer the biting little blade. It found a nice rock and raised it over its head.

Tarondo's sword sliced straight through the tough muscles on the back of its leg. As it fell the troll roared, dropping the stone. It tried to lunge for its new opponent but toppled on its face, hamstrung. As it struggled to raise itself, Tarondo leaped up on its back and stabbed it in the base of the skull.

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Old 11-04-2004, 01:29 AM   #149
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Loudewater got off the gravelly path bruised and sore. The second ambush had unnerved poor Killer so badly that it reared, threw his master of its back and bolted in the direction of the fords in blind terror. Poor simple beast never made it – cruel orcish barbs founded their mark in Killer’s girth and the mule crashed and tumbled into the side hedges with a sickening thud.

Loudewater grimaced with pain as he attempted to get on his feet when a humongous troll killed by Luinien crashed onto the ground not far from where the farmer was, earth shaking tremors sending the loose-limbed farmer sprawling again. Loudewater cursed at himself and at generally anything that came to his mind. The day was turning out to be more interesting than he had hoped for.

Loudewater got up again in even greater pain and was rewarded with the view of a miserable-looking orc standing before him. The orc seemed to be a little smaller and bent with age than those that Loudewater have seen before. It’s grey skin was incredibly wrinkled and spotted with blemishes and molds. Unkempt patches of grayish white hair dotted its head and the thing seemed to be missing teeth – lots of them.

Loudewater never knew that orcs could look so old or rather, could live this long.

The wizened old thing appeared to be mesmerized by the bloodshed and chaos going on around it that it did not notice the farmer from Bree until the moment the latter got up. Shrieking with surprise, it spun to face him brandishing a pathetic looking scimitar that has seen much better days. The beast’s movement was not fluid and it appeared to be extremely hestitant and uncomfortable confronting a foe of another race.

For his part Loudewater was in no mood to fight any way. The novelty of killing died soon after the battle of the Trollshaws and as of then, the dirty and tired farmer simply wanted to make his way to the fabled dwelling of the elves in one piece as soon as possible. A combat was not high on his list of things to do. Nevertheless Loudewater introduced the orc to his own dagger.

Both gladiators stood facing in crouched positions waiting to pounce on the other as soon as one made the wrong move, but as both combatants were so reluctant to fight (one was unused to using its brawn than its brains and the other was just to dogged tired), both simply stood at their spots not moving.

This is ridiculous… Thought Loudewater as he shifted his weight on the balls of his feet. The tensed orc yelped and readied itself, mistaking that the farmer was about to make his move. Loudewater could clearly see that his opponent was just as unwilling to fight he was. It seemed that a compromise could be reached. Loudewater tried,

“Hey you!”

The nervous yellow eyes continued to stare in attention.

“Do you understand what I’m saying buddy?”

The orc gave a sharp quick nod of its head which surprised Loudewater. Whoever thought parleying with an orc was possible?

“Look here, you don’t want to fight me and I don’t want to fight you either. So let’s just call it quits. I am going to count to three… Do you understand one, two, three? Good! And we are going to step back slowly and turn away from each other. Understand?”

Intelligent eyes continued to stare at loudewater intently even though the orc nodded his head quickly, almost eagerly even.

“Good, one…” begun Loudewater as he started to countdown. But even then the orc was starting to retreat. It did not really bother Loudewater that his opposite was not adhering to the stipulated terms of agreement – the faster he was rid of it, the better.

“Two…”

Just then the huge troll slain by Tarando crashed onto the ground and its huge wooden club bounced and ricocheted across the battlefield. Young and nimble orcs leapt out of its way as if they were engaged in a game of “dodge that club” and the huge heavy weapon continued its path straight towards the old orc who was so focused on Loudewater that it failed to see it coming. The club smashed into the wretched creature and took it along for the rest of its journey, leaving behind a trail of black orc ichor and bits and pieces of bewildered orc.

Loudewater raised a surprised eyebrow to the unexpected freak occurrence.

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Old 11-04-2004, 01:33 PM   #150
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Look just like ants, don’t they?’ whispered Broga, watching the Orcs pour in to battle the men and Elves. Grimm grunted and rose to his feet, motioning for his brother to follow along. He had spotted a likely looking target – two men on a horse and one looked wounded, from the way the man behind him held him upright with one arm.

The wounded man’s companion spoke a few words in the other’s ear. The wounded man, bending low over his horse’s neck wrapped his fists tightly in the mane. The other man had gotten down from the horse and given the beast a whack on the hindquarters, sending it flying through the melee of blades and clubs, toward the water. On foot, now, the man had drawn his blade and now stood back to back with one of the Elves. Orcs ran, tripping over the fallen of their own number, after the wounded man on the horse.

‘That’s our prize!’ cried Broga. ‘I want that horsey for supper, I do!’ He galumphed after the Orcs, scattering them right and left as he swung his club.

Grimm left his brother to the crunching and crushing of Orc bones and ran after the escaping horse and rider . . .
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Old 11-04-2004, 04:18 PM   #151
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Sting

Osric stood back to back with Tarando, fighting off Orcs and covering each other. A troll lumbered into the battle, and then another, but Osric was quite busy with the Orcs. Tarando dashed off as a troll attacked Luinien, carving his way through the impeding Orcs.

Orc's fell left and right from Osric's blade, and corpses soon began to pile up in a circle around the thin Rohirrim man. Concentrating, he thought of nothing but killing. This was a much larger force than they had encountered before. The sword might as well have been part of his hand.

Osric noticed two more trolls appear. And he noticed something else. Orcs were beginning to avoid him. Good.

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Old 11-04-2004, 08:50 PM   #152
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Eye Bazzog is injured, Thoronmir isn't dead yet but needs a little rescuing

Thoronmir was in no condition to fight, yet he had to try nevertheless. The ranger rode into battle, but stayed mostly on the outskirts with his bow, firing from a distance at the orcs, whose numbers were too great for the weakened ranger's arrows to do much good, even though he must have slain at least three. As he saw the trolls coming, he knew that this was not going to be good. The orcs had rallied around their leader, who appeared to be wounded but not injured.

Thoronmir would not die without finishing what he had set out to do. He fitted an arrow to his bow and urged Luinen's steed forward. The orcs' arrows flew around him and blades nearly chopped his head off, but Thoronmir kept coming, too fast for the orcs to do enough damage. He released his bow at point-blank range, and knew the arrow had hit the mark. The orcs' leader had taken it and was now gasping for breath. Thoronmir's task was done. Suddenly, though, a large club knocked him out of the saddle onto the ground. He tried to fight, but the world was now swimming around him. He was losing consciousness.

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Old 11-04-2004, 10:04 PM   #153
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Kransha's End

Gráthgrob was dead, or rather; he had disappeared into the fray, and came out a pile of orc body parts thanks to an ill-aimed troll club. Bâzzog was now doubly injured, with two arrows in him as he charged. He’d fallen, but persevered as a proper; brute of an orc ought to, and continued to saunter, at a less sprightly pace, forward, towards the thinly-spread ranks of the enemy. He was lumbering about, almost drunkenly, with a disorderly entourage bumbling over the earth in front of and behind him. He managed to yank out one of the two offending arrows, but got no farther than that before he was again engaged, this time by a She-elf from afar. In the midst of the muddle of battle, Bâzzog was lost to the orcs, assimilated onto the other side of the field. Many continued to doggedly believe that he would be victorious, but he was too far from his own troops, and was already gravely wounded. He was no match for Elf-kind, not that day. So, it was not a great surprise to anyone when his severed head, mouth hanging limply open and his blackened tongue lolling out, was discovered in a shallow ditch later.

From that point forward, Bâzzog’s personal battles were his own business. Kransha, as usual, was scoping out the field, in disarray, searching for a target, a mark, or anything he could shoot. With both Gráthgrob and Búbkûr dead, the orcs had become confused over time, and some were routing, but the heavy numbers involved were still able to overwhelm the opponents, despite all their hacking and slashing and erroneous combat techniques. Kransha himself, one eye pursed and the other squinting delicately, meandered in a careless fashion, his fingers tightly constricting around the cold wood of his bow and the bolt fitted to it. He tried to hone in on an adequate target, but the plane as it sloped into the river was clouded with battle’s mists. He had managed to salvage a bow from the last skirmish, though it was not as proficient as his last, and he was not yet accustomed to it. He would have to find a close target, one who was not moving too fast, too nimbly, or too erratically. At long last, he found one.

The gangly orc recognized this one. It was the leader, probably, who he’d put an arrow into at the Battle of the Stone Trolls. He could only reckon that the man he saw was the leader, out of his complex figuring over the length of several minor skirmishes. The fellow had a commanding air in him, not one of a grand general, but of a captain of men all the same, and struck Kransha as the sort of man who might lead an expedition of sorts. Squinting further, Kransha leveled the jagged shaft balanced on his hand and nocked to the bow at the unnamed man, searching for precision and the perfect moment, waiting with distinguishable orcish patience for him to be completely vulnerable. Suddenly, the man’s eyes fell upon him, and widened momentarily as he continued to rage through orcish lines. Realizing that he had no time to spare for aim or concentration, Kransha loosed the bolt from his bow. It soared, like an aimless shaft of light, or dark, over orc heads and at the man. But, the enemy leader was quicker than Kransha had assumed, and Kransha’s aim with the new bow was flawed. The shaft nearly fell short, and the man simply had to maneuver lithely to his side and break into a mad dash towards the opposing orc. Kransha now knew he could not fire again, for the time it would take for such a motion could dearly cost him. Somewhat dejected, his dropped his empty bow to the ground and ripped out his two red-stained blades, not hesitating to shoot off from the ground in a head-on sprint.

He charged, and the two collided at a central point between them, frantically flurrying their blades. The force of the first collision threw both combatants back, and they staggered for a fleeting second, before Kransha lunged. As he fell on his prey, the man dodged again, swinging his leg and shoulder about to the side so that the orc pouncing fell instead upon rocky ground. As quickly as his skeletal pair of legs could carry him, Kransha flung himself back as the man’s sword pierced the earth three times in succession, drawing nearer to him each time, but never reaching the orc form, since he leapt out of the sword’s stinging path each time. After the third mighty swing, Kransha stabbed forward, but his blade was knocked aside and retaliated to with another series of flourishing arcs by the enemy sword, one of which cut a swath through Kransha’s shoulder. The orc grunted, a bubble of bracken blood bursting from his lips as thin rivers of reddish-black welled up and ran down over the orc’s chest. Only annoyed, Kransha picked up the pace, his efficient movements turning to a hammering rain of heavy bashes dealt onto the man. The enemy parried, but could not dodge around the assailing orcs, and was forced to take each maneuver on the chin, almost literally. He backed up, towards the river’s immediate banks and past orc, man, and elf alike as they tore about the field.

The battle between the two quickly grew harsher, and both poured a greater well of their energy into it, each sustaining wounds that grew heavier in weight and number as time passed. Kransha was stabbed twice in one arm, and was dealt a great wound to his hip. The muscle burst and blood coursed over his flesh and leg, causing his steady, swift movements to become ragged and disconnected as it became harder for him to stand. One of his arms swung, more disjointed, and his grip on that arm’s weapon was loosened by a foul mixture of sweat that secreted his rough palm and warm blood that now covered his hand. The orc was the very model of bloodshed, a portrait of battle’s wrath as he became himself more erratic and less connected with his usual profound tactics. The man, on the other hand, was bashed about himself a great deal. Bruises and stab wounds soon found a home on him, the brunt of a punch from Kransha’s steely hilt gave the man a great wound on his forehead, which pulsed with painful energies and caused the man to slow his pace as well, his senses swimming and his agility dulling. Still, though, both warriors were equal in their combat.

That situation was abruptly ended when Kransha got the upper hand. One arm’s limpness could be used to an advantageous end, as he discovered. Numbness has distilled in his limb, but it was now unfeeling, and so he had leeway to flail it madly, without fearing for his arm’s safety. Several times, the arm itself struck the man, dealing him bruises, but also several times did the blade, practically hanging from the arm’s stiff fingers, slash across the man’s chest, drawing more thick blood. With a groan of stifled pain, the man collapsed backward; onto the hard ground, clutching at his wounds were they lay and his sword fell ignobly to his side. Kransha, not even able to comprehend the fact that he might, in truth, win, bore up both his blades into his hands, aiming down at the man, and plunged them down, ready to impale the fallen figure and nail him to the ground. Both of his weapons fell simultaneously, shooting downward, but the flesh they yearned for was not found.

The man beneath him, ignoring his wounds, sprung upon his legs and rolled again, pulling himself away from Kransha’s falling weapons. Just as they had before, the pair of long knives dug into the dirt instead of into man-flesh. Kransha did not notice until he heard a vague windy whistling from the patch of earth to his side, letting his grip on both weapons slip away, and his dangling arms, numb and useless through and through, fall to his side. He turned, half in awe, half in confusion, and half in anger, to see the man swinging his sword in a huge arc. The blade flew like a warm summer gust of air on a cold day, and then rested, hovering in mid-air, opposite of where it had begun.

At first, both warriors were breathing hard, standing stock still in their places. A second after that, Kransha’s chest stopped heaving, and then drifted away from the point beneath it. Slowly, the orcs upper half fell away, and all of Kransha above the torso clattered noisily onto the ground. After the passing of a moment, his two legs had crumbled in the opposite direction. The man did not linger over his kill, and quickly leapt over the two halves of the orcish whole, not tarrying to aid those who followed him...

The orcs were now in full disarray...

Last edited by Kransha; 11-05-2004 at 07:24 AM. Reason: El typo grande!
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Old 11-04-2004, 11:49 PM   #154
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White Tree

Silrûth had purposely lagged behind in order to prevent the Orcs from gaining too much of an advantage if they were to come from the rear. But that wasn't the case and as they rode on she became all the more suspicious and cautious of the foreboding in her mind.

The red rock walls rose up to meet them she was reminded of the sun before they left Bree, she was reminded of blood.

To the North they came, a filthly current that contrasted too sharply with the glimmering silver river.

With the reflexes only capable in an Elf she nocked an arrow and drove her heels into her horse sending the mare head long into the fray. With a speedy delivery the golden arrow found its resting place in the forehead of an Orc that dared to get too close to Luinen.

Falma's hooves thundered across the ground crushing one or two Orcs not nimble enough to get out of the way. Her target was chosen and she would not relent.

An arrow already stinging him thanks to Luinen, the thick black ooze known as Orc blood was trickling down his dark hairy arm. Quickly taking preference over her bow she grasped the handle of her sword.

Unsheathing it from the leather scabbard she swung fair enough at the squinting black creature only to come up short scalping him instead. The Leader yowled out in anguish clasping at his head, but he soon was overcome with rage snarling and spitting at her.

The black blood was dripping into his ferocious yellow eyes, he knashed his teeth and swore at her in his inaudible tongue. He made a daring slash which barely grazed her leather boot, she took her foot from the stirrup and knocked him in the head with a swift kick to the jaw.

He was sent reeling, but sadly Silrûth's luck was not meant to hold out, an Orc arrow had found its way into Falma's right flank, the horse screamed and reared unexpectantly. Silrûth toppled from her mount, Falma raced off towards the Ford after Veryadan.

She cursed to herself as she steadied her legs preparing for foot combat. The Orc smiled fearlessly, "so the little She-Elfie has gone and lost her horsey", he glared at her the blood tinting his yellow eyes.

They ran at each other simultaneously effectively countering eachothers blows. But as she sliced open his left arm, he struck her just above the hip on the right, Silrûth grunted in pain, the wound was not life threatening but it stung badly.

Her left hand quickly covered the wound trying to stifle the bleeding. For her brief moment of bewilderment had passed a second arrow was now protruding from the orcs rib cage, her eyes widened in disbelief as she caught sight of Thoronmir.

He was soon dislodged from the saddle by the heavy swing of an oncoming Troll. She cried out but was tackled to the ground by the gasping Orc.

He grabbed her by the hair and started to bash her head into the ground, as her vision began to cloud and blur she reached for her boot, and there hidden within it was a cunningly sharp dagger. Silrûth through her dizziness missed his throat and instead penetrated his abdomen.

A sharp gasp escaped his lips as he rolled over onto his side, they both lied there choking for air despite the chaos that swept about them. It was Silrûth who rose first despite her heavy swoon, she wobbled to her feet and gained her balance with the help of her sword.

Unsteadily she suantered over to the heaving Orc and raising her sword, in one swift motion she decapitated him, "too good of a death for you!" she countered before edging off towards where Thoronmir's body lay. Her hope was that a horse would be near by to make a quick escape with Thoronmir's body intact.

Where is the Bree Farmer?

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Old 11-05-2004, 02:47 AM   #155
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Loudewater shoved aside two little orcs and got behind their leader who was about to slay Thoronmir with a skull-crushing blow to the head. Almost without thinking, the farmer drove the tip of his dagger into the base of the orc’s head and twisted it. The orc gave a cry of pain and collapsed dead. But as it fell, the dagger broke and left Loudewater weaponless.

Discarding the useless hilt, Loudewater reached out and grabbed the still body of the ranger and feared the worst, but Thoronmir was still warm and Loudewater could see that he was still breathing weakly. Smiling to himself, Loudewater gently laid the head of the gallant ranger on the ground and borrowed his sword. Drawing the heavy blade out of its scabbard, the farmer turned around and faced the inevitable.

The orcs have regrouped and were encroaching slowly, pointing their sharp weapons menacingly at the odd-looking farmer whilst baring sharp fangs and growling. There was no escape this time– not unless he abandoned Thoronmir, and that was something Andas Loudewater was adamantly set against. He would try and deliver Thoronmir from danger, or die trying.

Just then a silhouette appeared to the left of loudewater’s peripheral, the farmer looked and saw that it was Silrûth, the other female elf. She was also badly injured but still holding her ground defiantly. At least now Loudewater knew he wasn’t alone and he felt his spirits rise a little.

Loudewater shifted his weight and readied himself. Who could have thought that hen-pecked Andas Loudewater from Bree would die fighting orcs, hundread of miles away from home, along side the best fighters of the land.

“If only Helga and Prand could see me now…” He whispered to himself softly.

The enemies drew closer and closer.

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Old 11-05-2004, 02:51 AM   #156
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There was a fire in his side as he bent over the neck of his mount and clung tightly to the horse’s mane. The wound had completely reopened, he could feel the blood run in thick rivulets down his side. He was dizzy, his thoughts slow. He wound his hands tightly in the mane and focused his mind on a single thought.

Cross the river . . .

His mount flew over the long flat mile that led to the ford. He could hear the sounds of the battle grow dimmer, though he wondered if that were just a trick of his increasingly foggy mind. He groaned as the horse’s hooves struck the uneven ground, jolting him cruelly. The water was near, he could see the silvery band draw closer, the currents splashing against the streambed rocks, sending up small white capped waves and feathery spumes as it beat against the larger rocks.

There was a booming echo that swelled behind him, a rhythmic heavy slapping that trailed in his path. Daring a look behind, Veryadan caught sight of a Troll . . . no two, Trolls hurrying toward the river, hunting, drawing closer with their long strides. Their gazes were on him, great threatening hulking creatures, and he their prey. The horse had already smelled their presence, needing no urging from his rider. His long neck stretched out, nostrils flaring as he galloped into the broad expanse of water; stride impeded only by the height of the river as it hit him well above the knees.

Warily, the Trolls entered the River, their great feet and legs stirring up the waters as they surged forward. With each stride they seemed to gain confidence as they doggedly pursued the Ranger.

The waters grew shallower as the east bank neared. Veryadan felt the quick heave and surge of the horse’s body as it left the river and struggled up onto the stony path. The Ranger clung tighter to the horse’s mane as it climbed the steep bank at the river’s edge. He had made it across the Ford.

At the top of the bank, he halted for a moment, bringing his horse about. Across the river he could still see the Elves, men, and Orcs engaged in the chaotic action of the battle. Closer still were the Trolls which pursued him, they had reached the shallower waters of the east bank. A few more strides and they would be clambering up the bank. Veryadan’s horse was winded; his sides heaving from the exertion of the flight. He could feel the trembling of the creature’s muscles beneath him. Pushing himself up as straight as he could, Veryadan drew his sword, preparing to make once last stand. The faces of the Trolls were now near enough that he could see the leering grins on both their faces.

From behind, the deep cries of some host urged their mounts onward. Veryadan’s heart sank at the prospect of more foe behind. But the looks of surprised dismay, turning to terror, on the faces of the Trolls made him turn his head. And there came Aidwain, spurring his horse toward him, followed by a small company of Elves and Rangers. Fifteen greyed-eyed riders, their weapons already drawn, their faces grim as they looked across the river. One of the Rangers spoke low to Aidwain, who nodded his head in reluctant agreement.

‘Come, Veryadan,’ said the Elf. ‘You are given into my care by your fellow Rangers. Let me lead you to the stone bridge that crosses the upper bend of the river and thereon the short path to The Last Homely House.’ Aidwain reach over to take the reins, but Veryadan waved him away with what strength he could muster. ‘Leave me. I know the way. No foe will pursue me in your wake. Ride to the aid of our other companions.’ He put his hand on the Elf’s arm. ‘The foul Orcs will overwhelm them if you do not reach them soon.’ Aidwain hesitated for a moment, but Veryadan had already begun to urge his mount down the path and away from him.

Aidwain trailed the ten Elves and five Rangers who had already entered to ford and were speeding west across it. The two Trolls who had menaced Veryadan had already run off, their escape taking them down the river to the south and there into the woods that lay along the western bank. No need to pursue them, Aidwain thought. They were running in a panicked manner, away from the battle.

The tide of battle turned as soon as the mounted company of Elves and men burst onto the strand and bore down upon the Orcs . . . blades slashing and deadly arrows finding their marks . .

Last edited by Envinyatar; 11-05-2004 at 05:29 AM.
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Old 11-05-2004, 06:08 PM   #157
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Tarondo's wounds bled freely. The ugly knot on his forehead throbbed with the beating of his heart. Pain shot through him with every move. But as strength drained away, willpower possessed the body. With a terrible, pitiless intent he fought, grim and cold.

There were simply too many orcs. His duel with the orc archer had drawn him apart from his companions. Now the lesser orcs, leaderless and desperate, abandoned order and mobbed them. Parrying, riposting, dodging, lunging at an opening, he had nary a chance to break out. An image of Luinien, crumpled on the rocks where the troll had thrown her, sprang to his mind. He knew not even if she lived.

When the orc in front of him froze in mid-parry, Tarondo lopped its head off. Whirling, he faced the next antagonist, who was - already running? Startled, Tarondo pivoted warily, glanced across the river. Riders! Riders galloping across the Ford, arrows whizzing, blades flashing red in the setting sun. The sudden onset rode down the nearer enemy, while the outliers scattered in terror. Tarondo's heart soared at the sight, and he laughed aloud. Joy's exhilaration sung through his veins.

He ran down to the main body. But the Elves and Rangers knew their work well and needed no help. Swiftly the remaining orcs were dispatched, too slow or too injured to flee. Tarondo halted amid the slain, head whirling. The energy was draining. He could nearly feel it pooling about his feet. The scene seemed distant and dim, lifeless without the bitter struggle of battle. Then he flinched as the pain returned, striking with redoubled force after being forgotten.

Someone grasped his arm, said something, but the words failed to penetrate. Tarondo set his jaw and forcibly cleared the mists in his mind. Still more to be done. No time for palaver. “Most of us are wounded,” he rasped. “Help them to Rivendell, as soon as possible.” Without waiting for an answer he stumbled off to find his sister.

It seemed that she had not moved. He knelt stiffly, dropping his sword, saw the darkly-glimmering dirk ready in her hand. Her serene eyes looked out from a face lined with pain and weariness. “Are we safe?”

“We are safe,” he whispered, stroking her dark hair. “We are safe.”

She sighed, closed her eyes. His eyes slid down her motionless body, saw the right leg twisted beneath the other. “I heard it break,” she said. Tarondo glanced back to her face. Suddenly he saw the rigidness in the calm, saw her will staying the pain that fought to possess her. His mouth twisted in a sudden spasm of grief. Turning away, he called for help.

~ * ~ * ~ * ~

The moon lit the water when they finally forded the Bruinen. Some of their rescuers had bandaged the most severe wounds, while others quickly made litters for those who could not ride. It was a slow, silent journey, following the path marked by white stones.

When they finally drew up in front of the doors, Elves were waiting to help the weary and the wounded in to care and rest. Tarondo pulled himself together and dismounted. As he clung to the saddle, willing his head to clear, a tall Elf robed in grey stepped forward to meet him. “The Ranger Veryadan arrived here in safety,” she said. “His wounds are grievous, but he will live. We will do all we can for you and your companions. You may rest here as long as you will.”

Tarondo nodded dimly, struggled to form the proper phrases. “Thank you,” he said. “We all thank you for your assistance.” His voice sounded far away, as if it belonged to another person. Someone was standing at the horse's head, ready to take it away. Releasing his grip on the saddle, he stepped back carefully. Slowly he raised his head, as if a great weight was dissipating. He stood motionless, relief washing through him.

Finally he turned to the doors of the house. The darkness seemed to have deepened; perhaps the moon was behind a cloud. The Elf at his side was speaking, but the river had risen and its roar drowned out her words. He took one step into the gloom. It seemed to billow out around him, shrouding him in night and drawing him down into dusky oblivion...
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Old 11-07-2004, 04:55 PM   #158
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Epilog - a little more than a year after the return to Minas Tirith . . .

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Written this 8th day of Ringarë
Year 21 of this Age of the Kings



A light snow is falling. I can see the small flakes cling desperately, one by one, to the window’s glass. They are brave in their desperateness, but none survive the heat of the brazier that warms the pane even as it passes through it. It is an even battle, I suppose. The snow is undone and the heat in its momentary triumph must be lost itself to the greater cold of winter.

I keep my room warm now; my old scars and broken bones, though healed, protest the cold. Even now, wrapped in a robe of thick northern sheep’s wool, I am forced to hobble slowly like some old man. And with a cane, though the healers say the muscle and bone nicked by the Orc arrow will come round in time. I must say, have grown fond of my cane in a way. Andas sent it from Breeland, with the errand riders who brought back reports from the garrison at Annuminas. Made it himself, he said. The length of it is covered with small carvings of our ‘adventure’ as he terms it – from Weathertop to Minas Tirith. He is a welcome correspondent; seeing his letters makes me chuckle, even before I’ve opened them. His is a unique way of looking at things. His last two letters have made no mention of Helga, and I wonder what is happening in that regard. Best let him get round to it without my prying.

He has seen a few of the other of our companions as they passed through Bree, he’s told me. Osric and Thoronmir, now thankfully healed of all his wounds, ride with the troops the King sent shortly after he’d received our report. The two, with Silruth and Aidwain, had departed from Rivendell in the company of Rangers and Elves, seeking the remnants of those Orcs and Trolls. Now they keep the King’s Peace and a watchful eye on our northern allies. I wish I could write, here, that their only employ was the patrol of untroubled lands. But the shadow, I fear, though diminished in strength still clings to its old ways when and where it can and ever the minds of some men will be bent by the promises it makes.

Often I thank the One that Elessar was brought to the throne, even as I grieve those whose lives were spent to make it so. I only wish that more men were as he; their hearts proof against the darkness.

This will be a short entry, today. I’m finishing up a map of the companion’s journey – from here to Rohan and on to Breeland. The flight to Rivendell and the parting of the company, some back to the western lands, some to Minas Tirith. I’ve made an extra copy for Andas. The first Battle at Amon Sul is marked clearly on it, as is the Battle of Teryggond at the bridge, and the last one at the Ford. I’ve made notes of the man’s bravery in those fights, and signed and marked it with the imprint of my family’s ring. I hope he will be pleased. Errand riders are leaving soon for the northwest; I hope to have it in their hands.

Short, too, is this journal note because I am expecting a much looked for visit from my dear friends this afternoon, Tarondo and Luinien. They have come to celebrate my special day on the morrow.

I am to be wedded . . . 'wedded' . . . a word that for long years would not have entered into my considerations . . .

I know I have written of this earlier, but now I have surrendered my long fought series of skirmishes with my sisters! Almiel and Núneth, having appointed themselves the guardians of my well being since early childhood, have made a match for me. And I must admit they have done well. A gentle lady, with a quiet sense of humor. She has her own interests she announced to me not long after we met; the study of herbs and their histories of use. She wished to make it clear that she would need her own time to pursue this and would I mind. I was delighted, of course. A portion of my time is taken up with my mapmaking, I told her in return. We have spoken of a joint endeavor at some point. A tour of various native haunts of her herbs. She has enjoined me to try my hand at a map for others of her similar interests. I to draw the locations where they might be found with indications of the types of areas; she to illustrate it with the herbs in various stages. It is an interesting consideration. Perhaps we might think of it when winter has passed. It would put a different face on my perspective of the land – a place where things flower and grow in their natural courses; a shift from places of battles and strategic landmarks.

The sun has fallen just below the midday mark. Its pale light now falling at a gentler angle through my window. I’ll finish this now; those other, previous matters are now more urgent. A short note, then, to Andas, and the map will fly north to him. Then I have only to visit the kitchen for somethings tasty to accompany the old bottle of wine set aside for my friends' arrival.

- V –


------------------

Hastily scrawled at the top of a new page . . .

Tomorrow will be another day, but I fear ( no, 'hope' is nearer to the mark) there will be no further entries then or in the following few days if my lady is of like mind as I . . .
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Old 11-07-2004, 04:57 PM   #159
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Old 11-08-2004, 11:39 AM   #160
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