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Old 01-15-2006, 12:53 PM   #81
Durelin
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Durelin is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.Durelin is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.
His appearance that of a man slumped over in exhaustion, Chakka forced one eye open to peer over the top of his arm that rested on the oar. He had heard footsteps, and had guessed who they belonged to. The young man had returned from his little escapade. Chakka kept still as Jagar cautiously made his way back to his place next to the colossal man, even though his muscles ached, desiring a good stretch and considerably more space. He was a giant dark lump that few who passed by paid much mind to other than noticing his great size, particularly in the night, scrunched up as he was amongst the oars. Jagar certainly spared his seeming sleeping form only a glance, though he seemed more doubtful than before he had left that Chakka was really asleep. Though the large Southron seemed relax, he was more the animal prepared to pounce, once its prey is settled, and unsuspecting. So he waited until Jagar crawled into his place, prepared to hide away his prize and rearrange his chains to appear untouched.

“Perhaps it is unlucky that you have returned alive,” Chakka said as he raised his head up to stare at the young man, his eyes practically glowing white in deep contrast with his skin. Though his words seemed so, there was nothing menacing about his tone or the look in his eyes. He stated simple observation. His gaze traveled down to the bottle still gripped tightly in the young slave’s hand. This boy, by the looks of him, seemed to be just as insane as the other one, that Ferethor. Perhaps it was the oars, the sweat, the blood, and the smell that had done it to them. But did either of them really expect to gain anything from this? Or did they simply not care any longer? They would secure their fate, as well as his own, and Chakka would not let that happen. After all he had done to try and gain his freedom, and even to attempt to help the others to freedom, they proposed to burn them all to ashes along with the accursed ship, and let the ocean swallow what the flames did not.

He had truly expected the boy to be caught in his folly. He doubted that the slave had any way of getting into anyone’s cabins, and doubted that he would find them completely empty, even though the ship was docked and most of its usual occupants busy. But somehow Jagar had returned, obviously with what he had sought to get. He could not remain unnoticed for long, though. Stealing did not escape notice, and everyone would pay for it if a culprit was not found. And luck truly was against the slaves, for chances were that Jagar had procured the alcohol from Rakin’s cabin. Surely such would not escape Rakin’s notice, and, if he discovered the bottle anywhere near where Chakka was chained to the floating mass that was his prison, the slave knew that any progress he had made with the Captain would be lost. It was as if the knife lodged in the planks beneath him had risen up to strike him in the stomach, creating a piercing pang of a mix of anger and hurt. To think that this was what his efforts might come to…

“Please, Jagar,” he began again, his voice low but clear and fervent; his voice revealed no kind of anger, which was replaced by an intensity that reflected importance of his words. “Throw it into the sea. If it is discovered, we are all doomed, as we are even if Ferethor’s plan unfolds as it is meant to. We can yet have freedom – do not give in to a last hope. Not yet.”

Whatever the Fame and Fortune was getting involved in, if it fell, then so did the slaves chained to it. Chakka would not seek to aid those despicable men, who even at that very moment were most likely plundering and slaughtering to their hearts content, but there was no sense in seeking his death before it came. He could hope that Rakin at least would die in some kind of skirmish, but that most likely would do only to hurt him further. The Captain at least knew his name, and he hopefully would not be forgotten and left to rot in the slave deck as long as the man, as black-gutted as he was, was alive. There was time, yet, and there was a chance. Chakka would be a free man; no oars, no chains, no whips could tame him.

Last edited by Durelin; 01-17-2006 at 03:59 PM.
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Old 01-15-2006, 12:56 PM   #82
Arry
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‘Give me the pipe,’ Bahir ordered the drunken servant who had stumbled to comply with Sangalazin’s orders. ‘You will spill the water the way you are lurching about. The hoses will get wet; your master angry.’ He looked at the man closely, sweeping his gaze from toe to head. ‘And what will your master do to such a clumsy, clumsy chit such as yourself.’ He smiled in a beguiling way, as if to sympathize with the sot. ‘Others have gone missing, have they not, who displeased the Lord. And perhaps he keeps a tally of little mistakes one makes . . . and perhaps when the sum grows large enough he will zero it with a quick word to his most trusted retainer.’

The servant’s eyes went large with fear as his befogged brain processed what the boy was saying. Still, he was the one commanded to bring the pipe.

‘There are no marks against me,’ Bahir continued; his voice gone soft and sing-songy as he wove his words, back and forth, much in the same way as a cobra mesmerizes his prey before the strike. ‘Go back to your quarters; let me take the pipe to him.’ He smiled again, his face going soft as if in sympathy with a close companion. ‘You will be spared his ill humor from the recent news of the Northmen’s fleet.’ Like a great, dumb beast, the man complied, his unsteady hands giving over the pipe. With a nod toward the chest where the spiced tobacco was kept, he staggered off.

Bahir sniffed the leather packets of tobacco, the shisha, as it was called, in the chest. He picked one smelling of honeyed apples, mixing it with one of a heady rose; the mixture sat mounded in a pretty enameled bowl. He placed the bowl along with the rest of his necessary equipment on a black lacquered tray, and into the base of the pipe he put two fingers’ width of fresh water. ‘And what’s this,’ he smiled, finding a flannel wrapped silver box beneath the tobacco. Several small, resinous balls, waxy, brown. ‘Ahh!’ he took one along with him, the largest.

‘The preparation of the pipe and the lighting of it, the offering of the hose, and the maintenance of the smoker’s pleasure is as elegant as a dance,’ the old smoking master of the Sultan had taught Bahir. ‘Your movements are like so,’ he would say,’ showing the boy the movements of hands and torso; the way to tuck his legs as he sat upon the cushion. ‘And your gaze should always be on the face of the one smoking. Read his expressions; alter your actions to enhance his enjoyment of the experience. Every time can be the very first, if you are attentive, boy.’

And Bahir had learned to be attentive . . .

Between the lightings of the pipe, there were silvered cups of wine and stronger spirits. And music . . . and other such pastimes as the Lord commanded with but a twitch of his finger or a smile. Bahir kept his eyes close on Sangalazin, watching how the man commanded, and demanded, and caused the others in the room to swirl about him like so many pretty scarves caught in a whirlwind. On the third lighting of the pipe, when he felt the Lord’s attention turn too much toward him, he placed the resinous ball on the heady tobacco and put the burning charcoal to it with the tongs.

On the deck above his sharp ears heard the command for the sailors to turn out; to take their positions for battle. ‘Breathe in deeply, my Lord,’ his soft voice said, as Sangalazin’s eyes began to dilate and grow dreamy. ‘My other master commands me, and I am bound to his service. I must take my place on the riggings . . .’

His voice faded out as he slipped from his cushion and made for the hatchway to the deck. Sangalazin, or perhaps it was another in the shadowed quarters, reached out to grasp him by the ankle as he stepped away. But Bahir slipped free, and ran quickly to answer the call to arms.

Last edited by Arry; 01-16-2006 at 05:02 AM.
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Old 01-16-2006, 03:25 AM   #83
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...So, let us reclaim the honor of the Númenoreans, and show Elendil that not all of his sons have strayed down the path of Tar-Calion!

As Captain Vórimandur ended his speech, Nimir joined the Ráca's crew in a roar of approval. The archers had not yet ascended all the way up to their battle stations, having been ordered by their leader, Sergeant Angaden, to stay low enough in the rigging to hear the captain's speech. Now their leader gave the order and the archers scrambled the rest of the way up the ropes and spars to their positions. Nimir had been told to take a place toward the bow. He was near two veterans, Dimion and Gimil, and had been told to pay attention to them. Thankfully, neither of them seemed to mind overseeing a novice, although they weren't exactly talkative.

Like all the archers, Nimir had a plentiful supply of arrows tipped with heads in a variety of shapes. He had chosen to use his own longbow, and over the sleeve of his padded black jerkin wore his own arm shield. He saw that on either side, his companions each carried a few pieces of their own equipment, too. Sergeant Angaden was an archer himself, and knew that in battle men needed weapons they could trust. Additionally, he ordered the archers to carry a few strips of cloth to bind any cuts with, and each man in the rigging had extra bowstrings wrapped up and stowed under their helmets. Nimir had thought it was silly to wear his extra bowstrings on his head, but had wisely refrained from expressing his opinion and obeyed the order. Just in case, he had slipped a third string into his belt pouch, where he thought it would be easier to get to.

Having checked once more to see that he had everything he was supposed to, Nimir made sure he was securely in position and looked around. If he wasn't about to go into battle for the first, and perhaps only, time in his life, it would be a glorious evening. The sunset was a beautiful explosion of gold, red and orange. The ever-present gulls wheeling in its light looked as if they were exotic gilded birds from the far-off West. Even the breeze was pleasant, neither too warm nor too cold. Below him, sparkles of gold from the setting sun danced across the dark green waves. He was certainly more comfortable swaying in the rigging than he was belowdecks.

"Don't gawp, lad! We're closing fast and there may be precious little time to make our arrows count. The Southern scum will try to cut loose and run as quick as they can." At Gimil's words, Nimir peered ahead toward Pelagrir and felt his first pangs of fear. From here, he could see not only smoke, but some of the fires that still burned in the city. And he got his first sight of Corsair ships. Large, sleek, bristling with oars near the waterlines, with huge blood-colored triangles for sails, they sat arrogantly on the water as if taunting any enemies. He was reminded uncomfortably of a wolf pack laying in wait for prey.

"Are they all that big?" His voice cracked, betraying his fear.

"Nay, these are the biggest Corsair ships I've ever seen," replied Dimion, the younger of the two. Although he answered calmly, Nimir could hear awe and even a trace of fear in the other man's voice.

Gimil, in his mid-thirties and scarred many times in battle, chuckled grimly. "I think we've stumbled on the cream of their fleet, boys. If we can sink those, Umbar'll be sore hurt." He ran his hand tenderly down his own longbow. "And I think we've got the ship to do it."

Nimir took a deep breath. To take his mind off his pounding heart, he once more checked over his equipment. There was nothing else to do until the fighting started.
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Old 02-14-2006, 01:20 PM   #84
Amanaduial the archer
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Having been roused by the boatswain from his quiet musings downstairs, happily swimming in a glass of fine red wine, Rakin sprinted through the corridors of his ship and up to deck, pushing aside the hapless messenger as he emerged onto the deck - and saw the fiersome sight before his eyes. Gondorian vessels, a small fleet of warships, broad and sturdy, perched boldy astride the water, a hundred eyes on each watching his ship and the two other corsair vessels, the Tarkos between his ship and the fleet, the Castamir nearer to Pelagir. Two fine ships: together with Fame and Fortune, these were three of the largest vessels boasted by Umbar, making them a matched attacking force on this enemy fleet - or, Rakin added mentally, grim faced, an immeasurable prize for the Gondorians should the battle not go their way.

Striding across the deck, Rakin started to bellow orders left, right and centre, every word clear and steady with the practised confidence of a man who was all-so-used to commanding battle - after ten years as Captain of one of the finest ships on Ulmo's domain, he couldn't afford to let any amount of wine dull his brain, and his wits were wolfish and ready.

"Get every man on deck, now! Takad, is every man equipped? How many have we lost in Pelagir?"

"Less 'n a dozen, Cap'n Rakin, from a crew of four and a half score-"

Rakin cut off the boatswain sharply, nodding curtly in approval. "How many do the other ships have? Tarkos...that's Parataan, isn't it? Close to a hundred hands...?"

"Just over, Cap'n, and the Castamir the same, although I reckon Captain Parataan's losses in Pelagir were a little more than our own - still the better ship, aye, Captain?"

Rakin grinned quickly at his boatswain, raising an eyebrow, the adrenaline and excitement beginning to kick into his veins as his crew scurried around preparing the ship. "Aye, you can be sure the Fame and Fortune will always have that title, Master Boatswain - and let's prove it now. Or at least we could," he continued, his voice rising once again to a roar as he jumped up to the forecastle to survey the ship, "if only these scurvy dogs would get themselves moving and act more like the crew they are than a bunch of nit-ragged street-urchins! Archers: a score of you-- or would you say a score and a half, Takad? Right then - a score and five of you into the rigging, double sharp, be prepared to watch for my orders in case we need...alternative ammunition. The rest of you: I ain't anticipating a boarding, and I want to avoid one. Get as many of them as you can from here: we're aiming for casualties, and we're aiming to take at least one of those beasts down, right? Fire, gentlemen, reel out the fire!"

A roar of approval granted the last statement and Takad bared his yellow teeth. "Fire, Captain? What about-"

"Stick with fiery arrows for now, Takad, I want to save the wildfire." He smiled briefly, clapping his boatswain on the shoulder briefly. "Save the wildfire for later, eh? Give 'em a real fright when we need it."

As the boatswain darted away, calling out his own orders and details, sending the crew running hither and thither above and below deck, from the slave deck to the topmost rigging in a fashion of chaos perfectly engineered from a thousand attacks before, Rakin turned to face the boat across the waters, one hand twisting in and out of the ropes that fell from the sails. Confidence he could project, and had done every day since he was born, so that the brashness and boldness he claimed had become a very part of the Captain - but watching the Gondorian fleet, he couldn't help but feel a twinge of worry: ten years of battle on the seas against one of the most powerful nations in Middle Earth was a helluva lot of luck, even for the most skilled of Captains. And Rakin's whole life had been governed by luck, having risen as he had from a street urchin, an illegitimate orphan...

...to the Supreme Commander of the Corsairs.

The fact and his earlier conversations with Sangalazin steadied Rakin. Watching the ships across the waters, he gave a small smile and lifted his chin in small defiance against them. Aye, maybe he only had so much luck - but see if he couldn't make it last the day. His fingers tightened fiercely on the rope wound around them, squeezing so the blood pumped around his knuckles warmly. Then, with a last look, he was gone, belowdecks to prepare himself for the battle ahead, leaving the Gondorian ships, as alive as his own, seething across the water that, in the dying light of the sun, flashed as bright and red as the finest wine - or the darkest blood.

Last edited by piosenniel; 02-16-2006 at 02:56 PM.
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Old 02-15-2006, 03:16 PM   #85
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‘Stick with fiery arrows for now . . . I want to save the wildfire.’ Captain Rakin had given the order and now Takad rasped out his orders. ‘You! Boy!’ he called to Bahir as his eye fell on him. ‘To the firing line, where you belong! You’re not there by the time I’ve blinked my eyes, it’s down to the benches and chains for you.’ He gave the boy a wolfish grin. ‘And wouldn’t that be too bad for those pretty little hands of yours . . .’ Takad snapped his fingers and one of the sailors came to stand by him.

Bahir knew better than to answer back or for that matter to even look the boatswain in the eye. He simply mumbled a “Sir!” and ran for his post. Behind him he could hear the mocking laughter of the two men.

‘I’ll feed your livers to the gulls someday,’ he muttered as he entered the small room where the arrows were kept. Bahir took up one of the racks of arrows with the tips wrapped in oil soaked strips of linen and slung the carry strap over his left shoulder. In the brazier that stood just out side the room’s entry way, he lit the thick punk sticks he held in his right hand. He flew up to the deck where the archers were gathering, lining themselves up for the coming skirmish.

‘Arrows at the ready, Sirs,’ he called out to Azar and Balak, the two bowmen he served in the battles. He took his place behind and between them, waiting for the orders to fire.

Last edited by Arry; 02-15-2006 at 11:54 PM.
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Old 02-25-2006, 03:50 PM   #86
Durelin
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Durelin is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.Durelin is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.
The boards creaked and rattled overhead under heavy footfalls, and shouts could be heard, the entire ship sounding alive with a feeling of anticipation and great haste. Chakka sat listening, most of the sounds all too familiar, and thought of how much he loathed the ship that was his prison, as if it really were a living, breathing thing. At these times, he counted it among his enemies, as if it was not simply a tool of Rakin, but was his accomplice in all of his abhorred crimes. Chakka could picture the Captain standing up on deck, giving orders, drunk with the feeling of command if not simply drunk with his many wines. And he could almost see the ship smiling contentedly as the corsair’s boots clunked across its deck, and his voice reverberated off its boards.

They were preparing to kill, and both man and ship relished in the thought.

“What’s this all about now?” Jagar asked from beside the Southron surprisingly lazily, seemingly roused from some kind of light sleep by the many noises. Chakka did not bother to look at the young man, and shook his head slightly. His muscles were tense, but he concentrated hard to relax them, resting them with the ability to spring them to action at any time. If this boy planned to go on with Ferethor’s plans, they were both mad. If they felt now was the time for their foolishness, then Chakka would be doing something about it.

“They are preparing for battle. They must have run into trouble with the Gondorians.”

Jagar’s eyes opened much more widely than before, and Chakka could almost here the young man thinking furiously. The large man knew what was on his mind: freedom. He thought it could come this day, perhaps through fire. The boy’s eyes seemed to flit down to where they both knew the stolen alcohol was hidden. “Do you really think we can be freed through fire?” Chakka asked, keeping his voice at a fervent whisper audible only to Jagar’s ears. The younger man avoided his eyes. “Fire will be used to defeat the Gondorian ships that are now our allies, and if fire does the same for this ship, we will surely be consumed by it, and if not by it, then by the water that makes this doubly our prison.”

Men ran through the slave deck, crewmembers of all sorts, all hands needed to loose death on the Gondorians. One remained to keep an eye on the slaves lanky, looking ill-bred and ill-fed almost as much as most of the slaves did, and noticing Chakka and Jagar, strode over to them, chuckling as he looked down at them, swaggering because he knew the slaves were safely in chains. He was also used to having other corsairs to call upon should he need any help. Perhaps he was foolish enough to assume that he would have that kind of help during a battle, as well. He spat at the two slaves, and a considerable amount of his fluid landed on Chakka’s head.

The huge man tried with difficulty to restrain himself from reaching up with a large black hand and ending the corsair’s life right there. He had trained himself to keep from acting immediately, even when spat upon, kicked, or otherwise meant to be humiliated, especially since being placed on the slave deck as a simple rower. But in the second that followed, Chakka looked up at the man and considered what it would feel like to see him dead. But more so, his calculating mind reasoned out the chances of there being help for the man, and the odds against Chakka of being caught.

When everything was added up, he smiled, and before the man could move, or call out, or strike back at the slave, a muscled arm of the Southron shot up to squeeze with a death grip on the corsair’s throat, cracking and popping sounds reverberating as the man’s throat collapsed in Chakka’s hand. His own hands shot up to try and force the slave’s away, but his thin arms and hands, nowhere near as strong, left him able only to claw at Chakka’s hand and arm. The corsair tried to scream, but all that came out was a small screech and gurgling. When his body stopped shaking and his arms fell limp to his side, the huge Southron let the man’s weight take him to the floor in a heap.

“Are your chains still unlocked?” Chakka asked, turning to Jagar as if nothing had happened, with no edge to his voice but a slight feeling of hurry. If he and hopefully all of the slaves could be freed from their chains, if anything happened to the ship they would not be left to die. He planned no heroic escape during a heated battle – that would surely mean death for most of them, if not all. And he would not risk his life in such a way. There would be no point to any attempt if it was to end with his death, having never gained his freedom. He simply wanted everyone to be kept alive, for a chance to escape.

Of course, his first action would be to place the body somewhere inconspicuous, so that, hopefully, it would simply be seen as a casualty from battle when found. Chakka almost regretted his actions, thinking of how the slaves could all be punished for what he had done because they could not pinpoint him, but he had no time for that. And he would not regret it; for it was better that they be whipped than drown or perish in flames, dying with the very ship that was their prison.
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Old 02-28-2006, 04:11 PM   #87
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Folwren is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.Folwren is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.
Only a few minutes had passed since they had drawn in sight of the Pelargir and its Corsair attackers, but those minutes seemed to take hours even to the Captain, used to waiting and biding his time.

They could see the Corsair ships now, and they were fully manned and rigged, turning about and pulling out into the main stream, wheeling about swiftly and plunging upriver. A grim, very unamused smile pulled at Hereric’s mouth. The Corsairs. . .rash idiots. . .always flirting and playing with danger and taunting death. So be it. He and his men and all the ships behind him were ready. Men swarmed and stampeded across the decks of the Umbarian ships, and from this distance, Hereric could see little order. The men on his deck stood perfectly still, waiting, and longing, for an order to be given. Soon enough, but it wasn’t yet time.

The time was drawing near, though. The red light dimmed and paled. The first Corsair ship came abreast the Cuivië almost a furlong to their starboard side, but the Captain let her pass - she would be dealt with by the others behind him.

A second ship was coming up on his larboard side and Hereric set his attention on it. “Tack sheets and hard to larboard!” the captain called. The men at the sails instantly obeyed and the wheel spun beneath the skilled hands of Bregin. The Cuivië spun about and bore down suddenly on the Corsair ship. The water foamed at her bow beam and a murmur ran over the deck of the ship as they came closer and close to their quarry. The men gripped their weapons tighter and a tension and excitement rose.

“Let fly!” the captain shouted. Calls echoed across the decks and up into the rigging, and the arrows whistled as they left the string. But the Corsairs were no less prepared and they immediately answered with the same sort of volley, and some of their arrows blazed with fire. The captain nodded, as though his mind was made up and he turned his head slightly towards Bregin. “Take us straight at them. . .catch them on their larboard beam before the galley.”

“Aye, aye, sir,” Bregin replied.

This was not a difficult maneuver, for the Xebec turned towards them, as though also wishing to ‘catch them’ on their forward beam, too. The rams scraped and a shudder passed over the Cuivië. The Captain half winced, hoping his ship was spared a couple holes at least. But Bregin’s hand was steady on the wheel and though he missed his mark and both ships edged away from each other, they were near to their enemies side. The oars extending from the galley bristled before their bow now, and the next instant their was a crackling and popping as they snapped before her.

The arrows whined from one ship to the other. Men fell on both sides, wounded, and a few dead. But as the Cuivië drew beside the enemy ship, the men rushed to the side with a shout of excitement and eagerness. The grappling hooks were thrown and the ships brought side to side. The broken oars were still extended parallel above the water. The ship’s side met them, and for a minute, their progress was stilled.

In that moment, as the slaves’ oars kept the Cuivië away from the edge of the Xebec, a single Corsair, eager for battle and blood shed, swung across the empty air and water beneath to the Gondorian ship and dropped onto her deck. A roar of a mixture of anger and disgust met him and he was immediately assaulted on all sides. And at that moment, the oars gave in, some brok to useless stumps, and others receded, there was a surge as the Cuivië plunged sideways and game up with a shudder against the other ship’s side. Cheering swept over the decks and the men surged forward, their weapons in hand.

Hereric grasped a rope and with it, he steadied himself and leaped up onto the rail. The King stepped up beside him and a smile flashed between them. Menelcar joined them after half a second. They stood together, their swords drawn, and before boarding the Corsair, Captain Hereric turned to his crew, and raised his sword.

“Now men!” he cried, his powerful voice raising above the shouts and cries for battle. “Forward and across! For Gondor! And for your King!”

There was a rushing cry and the men surged forward. Hereric swung across and landing on the opposite rail, he descended into his enemies with a great sweep of his white sword.
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Old 03-18-2006, 02:15 PM   #88
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Amid the turmoil on board the Fame and Fortune as Corsairs seized up their cutlasses, spitting on the blades and licking the edges for luck, or dipped wickedly sharp knives and cunningly-fletched arrows in venom, a band of eight figures, imposing in black armour, barged through the press. No one wanted a fight with Sangalazin's guards, no matter what they thought of the new Castamirion King of Gondor himself, so the knot of tall, fair fighters were yielded to even by the savagest of Corsairs.

The most impressively built of the armoured warriors raised his visor and called out in a voice that carried: "Where is the captain?" No reference was made to Rakin's own newly acquired title.

"On the poop deck preparing the fight," one of the more hardened and plucky Corsairs replied, his voice grudging, even a little contemptuous.

"I see," the Black Guard Captain, Andlang, replied haughtily. As the group hurried on, one of the fighters further behind raised an iron gauntlet against the pirate who had spoken so bitterly, smashing out his teeth.

***

So it was that as Captain Chatazrakin stood among the more able Corsairs of his suite, a rapier glittering at his side, an spyglass affixed to his vision as he beheld the Gondorian fleet, cursing the vessel under his command that was allowing itself to be boarded, he found himself joined by Andlang and his malcontent soldiers-a sight that at first would be bound to make him wary.

But Andlang, most unexpectedly, saluted him. "Hail, son of Sangahyando. Our crossbows and blades are at your command. The rest of the guards, and His Majesty," he sneered, "won't be joining us. The King of Gondor thought this moment an ideal one to commence an orgy in his quarters."

Chatazrakin gave a curt nod to show he understood, but Andlang had not finished. He thrust a long, slender object, wrapped in black velvet, into the Corsair Captain's free hand, and coming closer, whispered in his ear.

"The sword of Castamir, Rakin, symbol of Sangalazin's authority, the longsword inscribed with the love-legends of the Black Numenoreans. I thought it should perhaps now go to a man prepared to fight. Use this gift well."

This hurried explanation made, Andlang gave a sharp look to his fellow guards, and the eight killers dispersed about the deck, drawing their swords and unstrapping crossbows and arbalests. The vastly tall, Gondorian-blooded, hand-picked soldiers had an air of authority, and naturally drew bands of Corsairs to follow their orders with instant discipline.

Normally Rakin would have rightly resented such usurpation of his power. But he now knew from the sword swathed in its coverings in his right hand that this dissidents were his men, not Sangalazin's.

The sound of music, laughter and gasps of dubious nature drifted onto the deck from below as the last Lord of Umbar commenced his celebrations. But it would seem worlds away from Rakin's preparations for battle.
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Old 03-18-2006, 02:50 PM   #89
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Bahir stood at the ready for the battle, his eyes on the archers he would supply. They would not ask outright for the flamed arrows; he had learned early that painful lesson. Instead he must watch for the subtle signs their bodies gave that another would be needed, or that he must speed up for a volley, or now slow down as the target drew out of range.

The order had not come yet to his section of bowmen to let fly. Bahir shook off the tension and refocused himself. For a moment, though, his eyes were drawn to the deck where the Captain stood. Some few of Lord . . . no . . . King Sangalazin’s guards surrounded Chatazrakin. They had given him something; what, he could not see. But now they had positioned themselves about the Captain’s deck.

His eyes narrowed and he sucked at the corner of his lip, considering what this might mean. Perhaps nothing, except that the Black clad ones wished to fight. His gut urged him to a different conclusion. There had been a subtle shift in power, he thought. And he wondered how it would play out once the King got wind of it. On the other hand, what could he do? The cream of his guards had made this choice and who would stand against them?

He ducked, only just in time, as Balak’s great fist came round to clout him on his head. ‘Eyes forward, Boy!’ the tall, burly man rasped out. ‘The Captain has signaled us to stand ready.’
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Old 03-18-2006, 06:58 PM   #90
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As the Gondorian soldiers leapt aboard the Corsair ship, Menelcar had little doubt that this individual battle was all but won. Certainly, the Corsairs were excellent fighters, but what they really excelled at was ship-to-ship, and now that they had boarded, the battle would be fought on a more man-to-man level. What was more, they seemed to have more soldiers than the Corsairs. But that did not mean that they could slack off.

He plunged into the battle at the king’s side at the head of the soldiers. Having served in the army when he was younger, Menelcar was no foreigner to battles and began to fight his way towards the entrance to the lower decks. Slowly he and the men with him pushed through the fray, Corsairs falling before them. The rocking deck became slippery with blood. With a last sweep of his sword, all opposition guarding the lower decks was removed and he with about ten men at his back descended into the ship.

Unsurprisingly, they met very few soldiers; most men were up top fighting. They found their way down to the slave deck, where the first really prepared armed strength was waiting since they had left the upper deck. These men had clearly been charged with the guarding of the slaves. They were fierce fighters, and more than half of Menelcar’s men were slain before the three guards fell dead. The keys to the slaves’ chains were taken from them, and Menelcar left orders with one of the soldiers for freeing them and bringing them up to the main deck when it seemed most of the fighting was finished and they were ready to return to the Cuivië.

With that, he returned alone to the middle deck, searching for the Captain’s room that would contain the ship’s log and other documents that might be useful. He knew that it could not be terribly long before the horn call was sounded for the return to their own ship, so he had to work quickly. It took too long for him to find the right cabin, much too long. Once inside, he began to riffle through the books and papers on top, most interested in finding the ship’s log but also keeping an eye out for anything else that looked important. The log, fortunately, was where it should be and Menelcar found it quickly. He grabbed at a few other papers that may or may not have been important and tucked them between the cover and first page of the log.

Suddenly he heard a sound behind him, and only quick reflexes saved him from the near silent soldier that had appeared at his back. He turned and ducked, bringing up his sword just in time to save his life, but not well enough to avoid the deep gash scored in his left shoulder. Had it not been for that, the battle would have been relatively easy for Menelcar, but now the score was much evened. His two-handed sword became difficult to wield, especially in the tight quarters. Eventually, it was not his own weapon that saved him at all but a short knife laying in the cabin intended for the sharpening of a pen. In a swift moment when he pressed a slight advantage, he plunged the sharp blade into the man’s throat. Only then did Menelcar realize how light-headed he felt, how much blood he had probably lost from the deep and painful wound. Menelcar tore a long strip from the dead man’s clothing (even this small action seemed to take monumental effort), and bound it tightly around his barely useful arm. He picked up the ship’s log which he had dropped and tucked it into a pocket. He took his sword in his right hand, although he doubted he would be able to use it to any effect, and rose to his feet. It took several moments for him to steady himself before he hurried as quickly as he could to find out what was happening with the battle. But he took the stairs too fast, and with a distinct feeling of vertigo as he came to the top deck, Menelcar fainted.
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Old 03-18-2006, 10:12 PM   #91
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The Ráca and the Fame and Fortune wheeled towards each other, cutting crescent wakes in the river as the other ships were already clashing in battle. Captain Vórimandur stood at the starboard rail, leaning over the water and brandishing Sercendil. He glanced behind him, where the Cuivie had boarded another corsair ship, and was pleased to see that the Ráca was alone with her prey. His heart leapt with excitement as the ships neared each other within range of arrows.

"Quickly! A shield!" he shouted into the crowd of soldiers on deck. A shield was tossed to him just in time. A group of archers aboard the xebec were fitting arrows to their strings. They fired, and to Captain Vórimandur's horror, a few were aflame. He shouted a curse he normally wouldn't have said in polite company and lifted his shield along with the soldiers. The arrows mostly struck the side of the Ráca, and a few bounced across the deck. A hapless sailor was struck in the thigh and slid to his knees, and another was hit in the stomach. A couple of arrows thudded into the soldiers' shields, including a flaming arrow, which had to be drenched in water. Sailors rushed forward to the rail to douse the flames that had sprouted along the ship's starboard side. They threw bucketfuls of water over the rail, then hurried back to the larboard side of the ship to avoid the next volley.

In the intermission, Vórimandur rushed to the base of the mainmast, and called to Sergeant Angaden, "Fire at will! Kill their archers!" And as he hurried back alongside the soldiers, the archers fired a salvo of flashing arrows at the Fame and Fortune. Vórimandur cheered when he saw one of the corsair archers fall to his death over the side of the ship, and a few slump upon the railing. Foolish corsairs, lining up their bowmen in a neat little row on deck for our arrows, he thought. But the corsairs were firing another volley, completely of flames. Every soldier ducked behind his shield and every sailor hit the deck. The arrows whizzed past Vórimandur, missing him, but two soldiers weren't so lucky, and once the fire was put out they were taken below decks to have their wounds tended to. Arrows were now flying from ship to ship. The mizzen staysail had caught aflame, and the sailors were having a difficult time throwing water up onto the fire. Sailors were continuously rushing to the rail to drench the flames on the ship's side, risking the arrows of the corsairs. Sailors filled buckets as quickly as they could from the pump and handed the buckets to their shipmates. Men emptied buckets on each other, too, to keep the flames off. One sailor, hit in the leg by a flaming arrow, leapt over the side of the ship and into the river. Two more were hit and were drenched by their crewmates. Sergeant Nillendion ran through his soldiers to reach the captain.

"Sir, my soldiers can't just hide behind their shields. We need a battle! Let us board their ship and fight them hand to hand!"

"I agree! As soon as the ships come close enough, take some soldiers to the corsairs. But for now, we'll have to weather their arrows for a bit."

The two ships drifted closer together. The mizzen staysail fire had been put out, but now the corsair archers had better aim. Two more sailors were hit by arrows, one of them in the throat and bleeding profusely. The flaming arrows thwacked the soldiers' shields, and sailors from behind threw water upon the shields to keep the flames down. The two ships were even closer now. Sailors gathered on deck with cutlasses and knives. The corsairs were firing pointblank, and the Gondorian archers had a perfect view of the corsairs from their high perches. The ships were separated by a few feet of river. Sergeant Nillendion stood up, and called to his soldiers, "Now! Over to the corsairs!" And he and most of his soldiers and some armed sailors rushed to the rail, and with one great bound, leapt from the Ráca to the Fame and Fortune with a great war cry resounding from their throats.

"For Gondor and the King!"

Captain Vórimandur lived for moments like these. He was swept up by the battle, and ran to the rail, put one foot atop it, and with one great bound, leapt onto the deck of an enemy vessel alongside his fellow seamen.

Last edited by Alcarillo; 03-19-2006 at 11:54 PM.
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Old 03-19-2006, 12:28 PM   #92
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The fight was coming to an end. The battle had been decided as soon as the Gondorians were able to set foot on the Corsair ship. There was no chance of the pirates winning, what with the total superior number of men on the Gondorian side. Hereric stood leaning somewhat heavily on the rail of the quarter deck, speaking to Winmar.

'Have the slaves been freed?' he asked.

'I believe so, sir. I understand Menelcar, the king's adviser fellow, took down a handful of men and freed them.' Hereric looked rather sharply at his left tenant. 'That is to say, sir,' the young man quickly corrected himself, 'The King's councelor took some men and freed them.'

'I'd advise you to watch yourself, Winmar, not only for your own sake,' the captain said in a low voice. 'but that is good. I am glad that he managed to do that. Where's the captain?'

'Killed in the fray,' Winmar replied, turning and motioning where the body of the Corsair captain was being lifted up and carried away from the other dead. Hereric nodded and has eyes scanned the rest of the deck.

'Have the entire ship searched out for any remaining Corsairs,' he said finally. 'And then give an order to return to our ship at once.'

While the captain was thus occupied with speaking with his first mate, King Telumehtar walked among the soldiers and the slain. He gave a few words to the men he passed, causing a proud, pleasant flush to rise in the soldier's face that he spoke to. But as he passed through the men, his eye always searched through them, looking rather anxiously for his advisor. As more time passed and he still could not find him, his face grew serious and harder, and his kind words were fewer. The sailors and soldiers drew back silently for him and he passed quickly towards the stern.

He paused at the foot of the ladder to the quarter deck. Where would he be? Supposing he lived, he would have, or at least, he should have, come directly to him at the end of the fighting. But he had not. Was he killed then?

'Your majesty?' The captain's voice cut through his thoughts and Telumehtar looked up rather startled. Hereric stood before him, one hand resting on the ladder for support. 'You were looking for someone?'

'Yes. Menelcar. I haven't seen him since the battle started. We were seperated almost at once.'

'And he has not been seen since the fighting stopped?' Captain Hereric pressed. Yet before the king could give the obvious answer to the question, they were interrupted by Winmar. The young man rushed up from behind him, his face somewhat pale.

'Sir, sir! The counselor's body. . .' he stopped abruptly seeing the king. 'I beg your pardon,' he said quickly with a stiff salute. 'But the councelor's body has just been found in the captain's cabin below. I believe he is alive, sir, but he's been wounded.'

'Where?' Telumehtar asked at once. He and the captain were shown down at once and Menelcar was finally discovered, stretched at his full length on the floor. He had fallen on his face and a large bruise was forming on his cheekbone, but he lay on his back now, as they had turned him. A soldier stood beside him, as guard, and he did not move from his place as the captain and the king both entered with Winmar behind them Telumehtar knelt beside him, put his fingers beneath his jaw and felt for the pulse and then turned his eyes and gentle hands to the wound on his councelor's arm. 'He'll need to be carried across at once, I think.' He lifted his head and looked about the cabin. His eyes finally rested on the man Menelcar had fought and killed. He nodded, understanding at once what had happened. Hereric turned and looked as well and then at once turned his eyes back to the king and Menelcar.

'I'll see that it's done at once,' he said, and walked out to give the necessary orders.
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Old 03-21-2006, 07:00 PM   #93
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The day was warm, the sky blue – one of the first nice days of spring. Menelcar had found for himself a comfortable spot high on the wall of the fourth circle of Minas Tirith, and, as usual, was writing in his little book. He could think of no place he would rather be at the moment, with all the fields surrounding the city spread out beneath him, and there, farther away, the mighty Anduin hastening on towards the sea.

He heard voices coming closer – one unmistakably familiar rising above the rest: his brother’s. Menelcar considered moving to a new spot, then decided against it. He had been there first, after all; why should they make him move? Perhaps they would not bother him this time.

No such luck. The voices stopped directly beneath him, and snatches of their hushed tones were borne up on the wind to be heard by him.
What’s he… alone? Thinks… better than us. Never… normal people. Menelcar shut out the rest of the conversation and pretended that he had not noticed them, pretended that the words did not burn like cold iron. After a few moments, his brother called up to him, “Hey, Menelcar! We’re going out to practice some archery. Want to come?”

He considered ignoring them, but called down, “I’ll pass.” They didn’t really want him along, anyway. Menelcar was pretty sure that their father had talked to his brother about including him on things like this, and if so, he was not interested. He did not accept pity.

He was a better shot than any of them anyway. They’d probably talk about him being a show-off, then.

Dreaming – dreaming…
But he couldn’t wake up. And in the strange way that dreams have, his twisted. For some reason, his dream-self craned around to watch the boys walk off, laughing and talking and already forgetting him. But one of them turned around, and it wasn’t one of the boys at all, but Hereric. He didn’t say anything, didn’t need to. Menelcar knew what this brother’s friend-Hereric person was thinking. You try to come off like you don’t need us, like you’re better than us, but you know you’re not, know you’re actually jealous.

And Menelcar, as he had so many times, turned away from the other boys, trying to hide the hurt and confusion that etched in his face…


Then he seemed to be swimming upward through blackness, shedding off the skin of his youth. He was the advisor to the king again. He was better, more powerful than any of them. No, they didn’t matter any more. The stabbing pain in his shoulder returned to him full force, and he recalled dimly the events of the battle. How long since he had passed out? There seemed to have been very little elapsed time. And where was he now? He opened his eyes slowly. He had been moved into the cabin he shared with Telumehtar – did that mean the battle was over? And without him, where would the king turn? Surely not to Hereric. He wouldn’t. Menelcar took stock of his freshly bandaged shoulder – it hurt like the dickens, and he knew that he had lost a lot of blood, but otherwise he felt all right. Yes, he would go to the king now. He was no weakling to be held abed. He moved to raise himself from his reclined position and felt as if his arm were ripping off. A grunt of pain escaped his lips.

“Awake now? You’re not to leave that hammock,” came a stern voice. Menelcar saw now that there was a doctor in the room with him. “You’re not in any shape to go anywhere with that wound, and the king himself has given me orders that I am to attend to your health.” Prior to this last statement, Menelcar had been considering trying to override the doctor. No chance of that now – he would have to wait till the man left.

“Tell me the news of the battle, then,” said Menelcar.

“I do not know how it goes; it may even be over, now, though I think some ships are still engaged,” he answered.

“Then what of the king? Where is he?”

“Last I saw him, he was alive and well and with the captain of this ship. I do not know where he is now.”

Menelcar wanted to strangle the man. Did he have no news at all? “You do not seem very busy. Are there no other wounded that you should be attending to?” By the Valar, it was difficult to sound commanding from such a position.

“Not as many as you might think, perhaps. But I have been commanded to see to you.” His tone was as mild as ever.

“And you have done so; I will be fine.” There was no gratitude in his terse tone. Suddenly Menelcar remembered the other ship’s log that he had saved, and pulled it from his clothing with his good arm. “And if you will not let me see the king, at least see to it that he gets this.” As the man came to take the book, Menelcar felt himself drifting back towards sleep, although he fought it. He could be doing so many more useful things right now! There were, perhaps, some disadvantages of his position. As an ordinary soldier, he might have been able to tend to his own wounds – or less specific care would have been placed on him. But he did not have the opportunity to see what the doctor did next as he faded out of consciousness.
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Old 03-22-2006, 09:24 AM   #94
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Lingwë could see the enemies in the twilight. Dark shapes against the night sky. Some of them were standing still and some were shooting arrows. Surprisingly few of them were on the move, except the sailors who were working to steer the ship at their captain’s slightest command.

Arrows were exchanged as the ships drew closer. Only a few men on either ship fell; they were standing side by side, their shields defending themselves and each other.

With a sudden crash the ships collided. Orders were shouted and then the command came. Lingwë, along with his companions rushed to the decks of the Fame and Fortune. “Gondor!” they shouted.

Sergeant Nillendion was on the lead. This was the moment of his glory. Starlight reflected from his helmet and his long sword. “For Telumehtar, the rightful King of Gondor!” he yelled as he charged.

What happened next wasn’t beautiful. Many men on the front line fell as they were mercilessly fired by the corsair archers. However, the arrows seemed to avoid Sergeant Nillendion and he remained unhurt.

Lingwë was among the last ones to board the Fame and Fortune. When he stepped on the enemy decks, most of his company was already fighting the corsairs. But soon he noticed there were plenty of corsairs for everyone.

“Sergeant Nillendion! To the sergeant’s aid! He is been surrounded by the enemy!” Lingwë turned his head towards the shouter. That was a bad mistake. He heard a sword swing behind him and knowing he could never be fast enough he prayed for a swift death.

But the blow never came. Lingwë turned fast enough to see an arrow sticking from the corsair’s shoulder. Someone had just saved his life. He lifted his sword to strike the man. As Lingwë’s sword cut the corsair’s side an arrow pierced his forehead. The man fell screaming.

Only a few seconds had passed, but it had been an eternity for Lingwë. The Gondorians around him were hurrying somewhere. It took a moment for Lingwë to remember the situation. Along with his companions he hurried to the sergeant’s aid.

Sergeant Nillendion fought desperately. He and his five companions were outnumbered. One by one they fell fighting beside him until only he remained alive. The sergeant heard his faithful soldiers hasten to his aid, but in his heart he knew they were too late. A colossal corsair swung his gigantic sword towards him. As he parried it, a cruel-looking scimitar hit him from behind.

That was the end of Nillendion, a faithful sergeant of Gondor.

Only a few seconds after the fatal blow the wielder of the scimitar was beheaded by commander
Darnir’s sword.

“Belowdecks! He was trying to get belowdecks! Follow me!” commander Darnir yelled. The soldiers rallied to him, simultaneously trying to parry the swords and the arrows of the corsairs.

The Gondorians started to fight their way to get belowdecks. They moved slowly; the corsairs were trying to hinder them by all means.

To Lingwë it was like a never-ending nightmare. Countless times he parried and stroke. Numbly he aimed a heavy blow at a corsair who was about to finish from behind the man who fought beside Lingwë. Lingwë hit and the corsair fell. As Lingwë glanced at the man he had saved he was shocked to recognise the face. “Don’t tell the cap”, the Cook said and grinned looking a bit disoriented, but managed to parry a blow aimed at his head. Before Lingwë could say anything he got busy with defending himself from a violent series of blows.

Slowly but firmly the company advanced belowdecks. Many fell on the way but the rest reached their destination.

Last edited by Thinlómien; 03-26-2006 at 09:36 AM.
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Old 03-29-2006, 12:12 AM   #95
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Nimir's battle

Nimir’s first battle was not quite what he’d expected when he joined the King’s navy. He’d thought he would bravely avenge his father and sister’s deaths in a glorious fight like the ones in the old songs. Instead, as the Corsair ships had sailed closer and closer, his heart pounded louder and louder, while his stomach knotted tighter and tighter. He wondered if he’d ever see his home and family in Lebennin again, then shied away from the idea that he might be dead in minutes.

Gimil seemed read his mind. The weather-beaten archer at his side said gruffly, “This ain’t the time to think of home, boy. Pay attention to the enemy or you’ll be spitted like a fish in the shallows. “ As he spoke, he adjusted his bowstring and shifted his quiver slightly to make the arrows easier to reach. Nimir turned his head to watch the older archer with some surprise. He saw Gimil peer down toward the decks of the two closest Corsair ships. The man snorted in disgust. “We’ll end up spitted and roasted if we’re not lively.” Raising his voice, he called to Sergeant Angaden, “Sir, ‘ware fire. They’ve got braziers on deck.”

“Good eyes, Gimil,” replied the sergeant. “Water for the sails,” he bellowed to the ship’s boys below. Their matter-of-fact manner amazed Nimir, but he found a shred of comfort, too. If old hands like Gimil and Sergeant Angaden weren’t afraid, maybe things weren’t as bad as he thought. The boy from Lebennin took a deep breath and the knotted mass that had been his stomach loosened a bit.

Then the black Corsair ships were in range. In moments, barrages of arrows were exchanged between the two sides as the enemies tested each other for weaknesses. The Gondorian archers, most posted in the rigging of their ships, had the advantage of higher position and could see their enemies better. The Corsairs, drawn up in ranks on their decks, could fire deadly masses of arrows. As the first shafts began to whistle through the Ráca’s rigging, Nimir gritted his teeth and fired back as best he could. Trying to aim while poised on a narrow spar that swayed constantly was far different from shooting a deer in the woods, or even shooting from the ship’s deck. Movement that is barely noticeable on the deck of a ship will cause the tops of the masts to pitch in a large arc. Frustrated and scared, Nimir had a strong urge to scramble down the rigging and hide under a tub or below decks, but the presence of Gimil and Dimion kept him at his post. He gritted his teeth and simply began firing.

“Easy, lad!” Dimion spoke up from his other side. His low words were broken by the twang of his bowstring. “You’re wasting arrows. Look sharp and find a target…like that spawn of Sauron there.” On the deck of the Fame and Fortune, an archer collapsed with Dimion's arrow in his gullet. “There! There’s another one come to take his place…get him.” Nimir aimed, shot and a second archer on the Fame and Fortune fell. Aboard the Ráca, Dimion said “Good lad, keep it up. And look for officers, kill them first.” Calmed by Dimion’s directions, Nimir was able to watch the two veterans out of the corners of his eyes. He quickly grasped how they compensated for the pitching of the ship and began firing when they did. He found that the massed ranks of archers made it easier to hit them. Memories of his father and sister flooded his mind, helping him focus even more. A few minutes later, when the Corsairs began firing the flaming arrows into the Ráca’s sails, he was actually indignant. Hazel eyes narrowing with anger, he sent a steady barrage of arrows toward the deck of the great Corsair ship. He still missed some of his shots, but fewer and fewer as the fight went on. When it was clear that the Ráca and the other ship were about to collide, Sergeant Angaden called a halt to arrow fire so they could brace for the impact. Nimir, however, kept firing until the ships came abreast of each other in a scream of wooden hulls and snapping oars. He only managed not to be thrown to the deck by catching one of the ropes at the last moment.

When he’d scrambled back to his place, the sergeant was shouting at him. “Nimir, I gave an order! By Varda’s stars, I’m going to throw you in the brig when this is over!”

“He picked off their Master of Archers, Sergeant,” called Gimil.

“Did you then, boy? Good work!” Angaden was slightly less angry at this news. “You’re going on report when this is over.”

Nimir found the familiar phrase ‘going on report’ strangely comforting. “Yessir,” he replied, but the sergeant wasn’t listening. “Archers!” Angaden’s voice boomed over the din of fighting on the decks below, “Fire at will! Aim for officers, archers and swordsmen. Careful of our own men and slaves.”

The Ráca’s archers continued firing, although it was harder to find a clear target in the seething mass of fighting men on the decks below. But there were still determined Corsair archers trying to shoot fiery arrows at the Ráca, as well as cutlass-wielding sailors fiercly defending the black ship. Nimir sent an arrow into the shoulder of a Corsair fighting a Gondorian who looked a lot like Lingwë; a moment later Dimion pierced the Corsair’s head with a mighty shot. Suddenly Dimion himself was hit in the side. Nimir automatically aimed and fired in the direction the arrow came from as Dimion gasped and slid off the spar. Other Gondorians had fallen, but being near the bow of the ship, Nimir had not noticed them. His nerves started jangling with fear again as he glanced briefly at Dimion’s empty place. Momentary grief was replaced by fierce anger as he and Gimil continued firing arrow after arrow at the Corsairs. Reminded sharply of the danger he was in, Nimir wondered how much longer the battle would last.

Last edited by piosenniel; 04-17-2006 at 11:42 AM.
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Old 04-23-2006, 03:58 PM   #96
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The sun was setting, but the intense battle was still lit by the braziers and torches the corsairs had used to light their arrows. The dense battle on the ships sloshed back and forth. The dead piled on top of each other, and still the soldiers and sailors fought on fiercely, hand-to-hand aboard both ships.

Captain Vórimandur had leapt alongside his soldiers from the Ráca to the Fame and Fortune, scattering the archers across the latter's decks like pigeons. He had killed one or two with long, slashing sword strokes before he and a group of sailors bristling with knives had came to the mainmast. They grouped together and charged shouting through the heart of the corsairs. "For Gondor and our king!" Vórimandur found himself yelling. He and the sailors pushed into the center of the deck, and began to swipe at the enemy ferociously. Two corsairs teamed up against Vórimandur, tempted by his fine armor; it would've made a perfect prize to strip from the captain's corpse. Vórimandur battered one corsair with his shield while attacked the other, slicing wildly at the man's shirt. Vórimandur's sword cut across the corsair's arm, and the corsair dropped his sword in fright and retreated through the battle. His companion, alone with Vórimandur, turned and ran to find his friend. So now Vórimandur, victorious, cut his way alone through the throngs. A corsair armed with a long black spear lunged at Vórimandur, but Vórimandur was quick enough to leap out of the way and kick the corsair in the shins. The corsair slipped and fell onto the deck, but Vórimandur could not stay to kill him, for another corsair was approaching. This one was dressed in black armor, and had long, fair hair arranged around his shoulders. There were several dressed in black armor just like his across the deck, and Vórimandur assumed they were members of some special order of corsair warriors.

The corsair struck first, giving Vórimandur's shield a dizzying blow with his fist, sending Vórimandur wheeling. Then the corsair lunged with his sword. Vórimandur wasn't fast enough to duck away, and the long sword tore into Vórimandur's upper left arm, now unshielded. The pain was at first very sharp, but soon it dulled into a throbbing sort of stinging. Warm blood began to drip from Vórimadur's arm. His shield suddenly felt very heavy to hold. Vórimandur ran through the crowds to escape from this warrior and to find an ally in the fight. He came out the other side of the battle at the Fame and Fortune's port rail, where he found an old sailor friend, Malengil, standing over a heap of dying corsairs, a spear in one hand and a long knife in the other.

"They put up quite a fight!" he said, grinning with his yellowed teeth, "But they couldn't take old Malengil!" He then frowned, seeing Vórimandur's wound, and said, "Cap'n, sir, you're bleedin'! Which ever of those dirty scoundrels did this…"

"I'll be fine," Vórimandur said. He leaned against the railing to catch his breath. "There was a fair-haired corsair, one of the black-armored ones. Just take my shield for me; it's feeling awfully heavy. And fight with me! I'll need some help fighting with one arm wounded."

"Aye, sir," said Malengil. He helped Vórimandur remove his shield, and they traded shield for knife. "Though I'm not sure how many you can kill with that arm," said Malengil. He grinned again.

"Captain, Captain Vórimandur!" a young soldier shouted, interrupting the Captain's brief rest. He emerged from the battle, slipping through the blood on the deck and stumbling over a dying body. "Captain, sir, I have grave news! Oh, you're bleeding…" Vórimandur waved his hand to tell him it was nothing. "Ah, yes, sir. Well, Sergeant Nillendion has been killed! I saw it myself. He took a big sword in the back."

The unwelcome news gripped Vórimandur's heart like a cold fist. So Sergeant Nillendion had finally met his end! There would be time later to grieve, and Captain Vórimandur pushed his sorrow aside for more important matters. "Tell me, soldier, what is your name?" said Vórimandur, "And what of the other soldiers? Is Commander Darnir leading them, and have they gone below decks yet to free the slaves?"

"Yes, sir, I think so. I was separated from them when Sergeant Nillendion was killed, sir. Oh, and my name is Nimlang, sir, son of Nimfang."

"Good. Nimlang, you can fight alongside us. This is Malengil. You two are to stay at my side in the battle. There's strength in numbers, and I've been wounded. Now, it was one of the black-armored corsairs that did it. I suspect they're part of some special guard, so be on the lookout for 'em! Now come, back into the battle we go!"

Vórimandur, and Nimlang and Malengil, readied their weapons and charged back into the fight, shouting battle cries into the clanging din of battle.

"For Gondor!"
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Old 04-23-2006, 05:00 PM   #97
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Curamir had leapt aboard the Corsair ship with the others full equally of anticipation and trepidation. This was to be his first real clash with an enemy and while he was not looking forward to the possibility of death, the chance to prove his abilities was very tempting. Leaping over a body already on the floor he charged forward sword raised, hoping the arrows flying over his head from his own ship would miss him. They were hitting people just ahead of him, and he feared less for his own life as he saw the near perfect marksmanship being demonstrated.

Following the pack of soldiers through the ship Curamir found opponents on every side. Swords, daggers and even a few handheld arrows were thrust at him, and at times it was all he could do to block them, never mind deliver a blow himself. He realised then how inexperienced he was, as he could see those veterans ahead of him cutting a path through the enemy fighters with more skill than he could ever dream of having. Thankful to be with them and not against them he brought his attention back to those attacking him.

As he did so a sword came slicing through the air toward him. He caught it on his own and pushed against the latest foe. The other soldier fell back into a wall. At least he had thought it was a wall, but as the mans weight hit it part of it opened, and Curamir realised that it was a door. On second glance it wasn't well hidden, but he had been so concerned with staying alive that his eyes had just swung straight past it.

His opponent had just headed through this door and Curamir followed, worried that there were more soldiers on the way. He knew he wouldn't be able to stop a whole group of them, but he could at least stall them. As he ran through he found himself on a flight of stairs going down. Slowing down he moved cautiously, quietly, hoping this would allow his to catch his enemy by surprise. Rounding a corner he caught a glint of metal behind him out of the corner of his eye and turned swiftly, bringing his sword up and down with him. He heard it strike metal, but it certainly didn't feel like the clash of sword upon sword, and the following yell didn't sound like that of a man wounded.

"Freed! Sir you have my thanks."

The language was not coarse as Curamir would have expected of a Corsair, but refined and polite, if mysteriously exuberant. Reaching out he grabbed what felt like a ragged shirt and pulled the stranger into the light reaching down from the stairwell. The sight that met his eyes shocked him so that he was bereft of words for a moment. The man before him was certainly Gondorian, but filthy, dressed in rags and covered in what looked like marks from both whip, fist and boot. He stood simply staring for a few moments, before a crash from above caught his attention and he snapped back to reality.

Hissing to the newly freed slave to follow him Curamir raced back up the stairs and found the door fortunately still open. Running through it he moved back in the direction of the Ráca, ignoring shouts that he was going the wrong way. Reaching the line where Gondorain and Corsair fighters had clashed at the small gap between the ships Curamir cut his way through from behind, surprising both sides alike. Pushing the slave across onto the Ráca he yelled to the soldiers on board to keep him safe, and fought his way back through the crowd to continue the battle.
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Old 05-02-2006, 09:23 PM   #98
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Captain Vórimandur leapt back into the slaughter, slinging his shining sword through the air and laughing at his foes. By his side were Nimlang, a young recruit killing his first men, and Malengil, a seasoned veteran of the wars against Umbar. Captain Vórimandur was wounded, but ignored the warm blood flowing freely down his arm, and slaughtered just as fiercely as before.

"That is for the wreck of the Telpelingwë!" he shouted as he beheaded another corsair, "And that is for the boarding of my ship three years ago at Tolfalas! And then near Cape Caran, and all the other times! And that is for the death of Nillendion!"

By now the soldiers below decks spilled back out, with a few rescued slaves in tow. Behind them came a mob of corsairs, scimitars glistening, and they came roaring across the decks. The battle thickened. Men were shoved overboard and into the black river below. More Gondorians leapt across to the Fame and Fortune to compensate for the losses, but more corsairs leapt to the Ráca. Both ships were tangled in a deadly mob of crew and weapons, surging back and forth, from one ship to the other. At times the Gondorians were shoved back to their ship, and at times the corsairs were routed and pursued across the Fame and Fortune's blood-stained deck. But now the corsairs were gaining the upper hand. Their nimble seamen leapt upon the ropes and climbed like agile monkeys up to the sails, risking the Gondorians' arrows for escape. Their wily captain had seen his dangerous position. One of his ships was captured, and the other fleeing, with a dozen more enemy ships approaching. If his ship escaped, the battle would be over. The Gondorians would scramble panicked back to their own ship, or else be caught alone on a corsair vessel, to be shut in a prison cell and slowly tortured to reveal imagined Gondorian secrets.

"Up the masts! Get this ship moving!" the corsair captain shouted as he tried his best to keep out of the throngs of battle. "I want to see these Eldacarioni scattering back to their ship like ants!"

They heeded his words with a curt nod and the most nimble corsairs leapt to their work, leaving the fighting to the stronger veterans below. The deep red sails unfurled and caught the slight breeze. The Fame and Fortune inched forward.

Nimlang caught Captain Vórimandur by the arm. "Captain, sir, the ship is moving! We have to get back to the Ráca!" he shouted over the noise of battle.

"What? No!" Vórimandur shook Nimlang's arm off. "One more charge into the battle, and then we can leave!"

Malengil grabbed the captain by the other arm. "Cap'n, sir, look around! The soldiers are fleeing!" Vórimandur saw the other Gondorians leaping back to the Ráca, chased by hordes of corsairs. It was a complete rout. The Gondorians fled across the Fame and Fortune's decks, slipping and stumbling in the blood and corpses. Already he could see the Ráca sliding slowly backwards as the Fame and Fortune glided forward.

Captain Vórimandur bit his lip in indecision. He wanted to so desperately stay fighting on the Fame and Fortune. She would've made a beautiful prize to sail back to port. But every Gondorian was scattering in panic back to the Ráca. It was now hopeless.

"Fine. We're leaving!" Vórimandur said, and he and Malengil and Nimlang ran back to the Ráca. They reached the Fame and Fortune's starboard rail, the one facing the Ráca, and putting a foot atop it, Vórimandur leapt across the gap between the ships, and landed on his knees on his ship's hard wooden deck. He was pulled up by the sailors, who tried to usher him out of the path of the arrows flying through the air in great volleys, but Captain Vórimandur pushed them away. Defying the arrows, he stood and ran down the length of the Ráca, trying to keep up with the Fame and Fortune.

"Follow that ship!" he shouted to his sailors. The sails unfurled and the Ráca inched forward alongside the Fame and Fortune. But the Fame and Fortune was faster. By the time Vórimandur had reached the Ráca's bow, half of the Fame and Fortune had already passed by, and it glided through the water quicker by the moment.

Aboard the swift xebec, the corsair captain leaned lankily against the mainmast, watching the arrows flit between the ships. Captain Vórimandur caught sight of him, directly across the little gap of water, and for a few moments they stood staring right at each other.

But no words were exchanged across the ships. The Fame and Fortune sailed away, too fast for the Ráca to catch up. And by now the other Gondorian ships were sailing alongside the Ráca. The battle was over, and so quickly. The fighting spirit in Vórimandur fizzled out.

"Commander Darnir!" he called out. The commander ran over from where he helped turn over the bodies piled on the deck.

"Yes, sir. Ah! You're wounded! I'll get the surgeon for you."

"Do that afterwards. Now, commander, I know that Sergeant Nillendion was killed in the battle. You're sergeant now. Having been Nillendion's second-in-command, I'd say you'd be the most capable of leading these soldiers."

"Um, thank you, sir."

"And also, how many slaves did you rescue?"

Sergeant Darnir inhaled deeply, looking for the right answer before he responded. "Just one, sir. The others were either recaptured or killed in the battle."

"Oh, well. War has its casualties." Only one slave was a disappointment. He had expected to slaughter the entire enemy and capture the xebec, and all of its slaves! Vórimandur sent Darnir away so he could mull over things. "Now get me that surgeon! My arm is killing me!"

Sergeant Darnir ran off to find the ship's surgeon. Captain Vórimandur turned towards the southern horizon, where the tiny spot of red that was the Fame and Fortune sped away towards Umbar. The captain stood at the rail, watching the sun go down while Darnir looked for the surgeon. I'll find you, Fame and Fortune, Vórimandur thought, I'll find you…
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Old 05-10-2006, 04:16 PM   #99
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