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Old 10-26-2006, 04:52 PM   #241
Durelin
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Durelin is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.Durelin is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.
Khamir

Khamir was a little surprised to hear the man known as Joshwan speak up, and he had to grit his teeth and let out a heavy sigh through them as he took in his observations. Of course they were true, and had dawned on the one-armed man as the other man began to talk, but…that couldn’t be the whole of it. There had to be a way, particularly with now over threescore of them hard at work. Vegetation was not abundant, to say the least, but, then, if they could collect enough, it might just do, as long as, as the elf noted, the slavers attacked at night.

“Pessimism or not, obviously traps and the like are necessary. And I expect they will attack in the night, as they did last time.”

Beloan nodded next to him. “They do not like learning new tricks, and will likely underestimate us.”

It was Khamir’s turn to nod before he could think of how strange the two’s exchange might look. They skirted around each other in a fashion that felt awkward, particularly since neither was used to necessarily being at odds with each other, but each feared they might be.

Suddenly, the strange, short, flame-haired man spoke up in his rumbling voice. Strange that he should look and sound so fierce, and carry such an imposing weapon, and yet if Khamir looked closely enough, he could see the crease marks around his eyes were from years and years of smiles and laughter. This detail struck him more greatly than any of the other oddities about the bearded man – most of the people here in Mordor were obviously worn a little differently from those of the Fellowship.

“I suppose there is a lack of much of anything green around here,” the axe-bearing man began, his voice the perfect example of ‘slow and steady,’ “but there is an awful lot of good, hard soil, and what rock there is, it is the strongest. Perhaps some tunneling is in order, if you lads think we have the time. I certainly know how to dig a good tunnel, but I know how to dig a bad tunnel, too: one that the wrong step could collapse in the blink of an eye. And when I mean collapse, I mean collapse – with the surface gone under, if you know what I mean.”

Khamir could not help but smile slightly at the short man, and he was even more bewildered by him. What sort of man was he? The way he talked about ‘knowing’ tunnels and about soil and rock sounded as if it was the most sensible thing in the world for everyone to accept him as the master of such knowledge, and Khamir certainly felt prepared to. He looked around to see if he could catch any reaction from some of the others, and noticed that the old man, one of the members of the Fellowship, was missing at the moment. Had he just wandered off? This was a strange bunch, and though Khamir’s faith in Gondor had certainly been nurtured, his interest in its peoples had escalated to a curiosity quite foreign his nature. He thought now that he might even travel there one day.

Last edited by Durelin; 10-26-2006 at 06:00 PM.
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Old 10-30-2006, 09:59 PM   #242
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Lindir and Aiwendil:

The meeting had been going on more than two hours when Aiwendil rushed into the circle and pulled Lindir to one side. The istar pointed to the sky and hastily explained where he had been and what would happen later that day.

Lindir stared out across the rock strewn plain, with its tumbled boulders and patches of dry grass. The day was hot and cloudless. Even this early in the morning, the sun beat down in an unrelenting fashion on the camp. The elf could see no physical signs of any storm. "Are you sure?" he prodded. "We can not base our strategy on the weather unless we are certain this will happen."

"I am convinced of it. The birds and beasts can detect a change in weather long before any man. But it is not just that. Rôg comes from a place to the south where sand storms are frequent. He is sure the wind is shifting. I tell you, Lindir, this is a piece of luck. We know what will happen, and the slavers do not. Plus, the winds are blowing out of the west. They will be at our backs, but the slavers must ride directly into the gusts. We could not have asked for a better situation."

"There is still one problem, that of timing." Lindir noted. "We do not know what time the attackers are coming. And exactly what time will these winds hit?"

"The falcon thought it would be at dark. Part of what you say is true. If the slavers wait to ride till late tonight, they will see the weather has changed and simply delay their attack. The worst that can happen is that both sides will billet down and not fight until tomorrow. But I don't think the slavers will do that. They are impatient. Their leader wants blood. They will ride out by early evening, perhaps even this afternoon. Already, Rôg has left camp to make preparations to greet them in an appropriate fashion, and I will join him shortly. If the men come early, he and I can delay them just long enough so they are caught up in the winds."

Lindir responded dryly, "I should ask you how you plan to do that, but I will not. I don't think our new friends would feel comfortable with the kind of answer I am likely to get. So if you are certain of this, go now and rejoin Rôg and do what must be done. I'll work with Dorran and the leaders of the settlers to craft a strategy based on what you have told me."

As Aiwendil stalked off towards the north, Lindir called out after him, "You had better be right about this, or we will pay dearly."

The istar turned around and gestured with his staff, "You have my word on it. And if I am right, I will insist that you prepare some of the finest delicacies from Rivendell once we reach our destination. The foothills should have game and other growing things in abundance, and I will greatly enjoy being waited on by such an old and honorable elf!" With that, the two parted company. Then Lindir returned to the circle, sat down, and prepared to speak.

**********
The planning meeting had nearly ended. The conversation had lulled, and Dorran was putting the finishing touches on a crude map drawn in the dirt that showed where the various traps should be constructed and where men and women should be stationed. Lindir bent down for a closer look and nodded to the men in appreciation, "Khamir, Beloan, and Dorran, well done. This should work. And we have one more piece of good fortune that may tilt the scales in our direction. Aiwendil and Rôg have told me that a wind storm will be blowing in at nightfall. Aiwendil and Rôg have also come up with a few tricks to delay the approach of the slavers if they should make it over before the winds hit. They've already gone out to start their preparations."

Lindir looked around the circle, expecting someone to object, but no one did. An old man sitting far back from the firepit sniffed the air and then nodded his head in confirmation that he too could sense the weather was changing. Apparently all of those gathered in the camp had lived through such storms, which were not uncommon in the region of Nurn and the plains spreading out to the north. The stripping away of so many trees and so much goodness from the soil, combined with a long spell of hot and dry weather, created the conditions that gave rise to the harsh walls of wind.

"We are lucky then," Lindir conceded. "The slavers will probably not have anyone who can read weather signs. So we will have one advantage, yet we must also be careful. Aiwendil tells me that Azhar and a few of her friends have gone to warn the others who plan to take shelter during the battle that they must secure their things within the circle of boulders at the rear of camp and stay hidden there in the worst of the weather. We must also be careful with the firebrands. The young men doing those should go further out on the plain to the east and strike before the worst of the weather hits, or we will end up with burning brands in our own faces. But one task will be easier. Once the winds come, the slavers will be hard pressed to see any of the ditches or tunnels, even if we hide them crudely. As far as the horses go, I agree. We must not waste too much effort on that. Yet there are a number of young healthy women reluctant to fight who might be stationed at the edge of camp, far from the actual swordplay. They might be able to run down an animal or two, and that could help you once you finally settle into your new lands and need a beast to station in front of a plough."

Lindir looked around the group but there were no further voices raised. "We are ready then. Each must go to their appointed task. We will meet back at the fire by mid-afternoon to set up the attack, and may fortune smile on our efforts."
With that, the circle dispersed, as men and women hurried to carry out the plans that had been made.

Last edited by Child of the 7th Age; 11-03-2006 at 01:14 PM.
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Old 11-01-2006, 12:36 PM   #243
Durelin
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Durelin is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.Durelin is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.
Vrór

Vrór was pleased that his idea was received well by the others, and he was enthusiastic to start working on it immediately. He was surprised at how willing the slaves were to do such hard work, as they worked diligently and did not object to following his direction, for which he was very thankful. After his embarrassing slip with the woman, Shae, when he had used the word ‘slave’ to describe them aloud, he was very conscious of how he treated them, and for that he felt guilty, too. They had worked doing very strenuous labor under horrible conditions all, most, or at least for several years of their life, and it showed. He could not think of these people as lesser than any other people, but that he continually reminded himself of his embarrassment with Shae placed ideas otherwise back into his head, even if he did not agree with them.

He used what little wood he could find, mostly scraps from small, dead trees, and he tied thick, strong bunches of bramble together to replace sturdier wood, all to use for tunnel supports. The digging was slower than he would have liked, but they had to be careful. They had to dig at just the right angle… Vrór’s entire body was sticky from sweat, and not just from the heat: he did not have time for calculations, and he understood the dangers involved. If anyone above ground got within just a few feet of where the tunnel was in process, he would snap at them with a loud growl, and then would have to quickly apologize, and blame it on his nerves – which was the truth. At one point the boy they had rescued from the pit in the slavers camp, Kwell, approached the tunnel, but luckily for him someone else caught him before Vrór could shout him.

The one-armed man, Khamir, who apparently had been the one to ask for Elessar’s aid in the first place, came up to him at one point, and asked what he could do. The Dwarf was a little shocked, and could not answer him for a moment. He was not accustomed to this sort of dedication, particularly from a man who held some sort of leadership in this group. At least, Vrór assumed that because he had been the one to request assistance, he was the closest to a leader as there could be in this group. Khamir seemed embarrassed when the Dwarf did not answer right away, and before Vrór could say anything, the man said that he understood he might be of little help with only one arm.

“No, no, of course not,” the Dwarf assured him, his brain working quickly to think of something for the man to do. He decided that having him pass water to those already in the tunnel was the best thing, and he explained that it was because he already had enough people working in the tunnels. Khamir seemed to understand that was not the only reason behind his simple job. Still, he was diligent. He sat with Vrór at the opening of the tunnel, the Dwarf directing and the man there to run errands, largely fetching water as had been prescribed. Vrór made sure that the required supports got passed down through the tunnel, and Khamir volunteered to find more materials to act as support while the Dwarf helped place them properly. It was a slow process, and it only slowed further as they got further along. Everyone’s nerves were stretched practically to the limit, but even worse conditions were not foreign to the former slaves.

Having someone with him did little to calm Vrór’s nerves, though. His thoughts kept lingering on the idea of the tunnel collapsing on the workers, and he ran over and over in his head whether or not he had judged an angle properly, or if he had estimated the thickness of the ceiling as close as he should have. Were those really enough supports? Could those even be called supports? He was not sure – he knew a number of his kinsman that would be absolutely horrified by the job that was being done, but the idea wasn’t for it to be a good tunnel, and the best materials certainly were not available. No excuse could settle his mind or his stomach, though. He was able to push only one thought to the back of his mind: the worry of when and how exactly he was going to have to remove those makeshift supports. This tunnel could not fail in at least slowing down the slavers and throwing them into confusion, hopefully injuring or killing a few. But he would not risk taking those supports out ahead of time…and he would never ask anyone to remove them. It would have to be done himself, and Vrór knew when. He gripped the hammer that hung at his belt, and thought about his life, his work, with little regret.

Last edited by Durelin; 11-02-2006 at 06:25 PM.
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Old 11-01-2006, 12:39 PM   #244
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‘What to do? What to do?’ He’d told Aiwendil he could come up with something to help against the slavers who would soon be on their way. The problem was he really hadn’t an idea of what that help might be.

Rôg hunkered down behind the little piling of rocks, his back squirming about to find some comfortable place to rest against. He reached out with his right hand and scooped up a handful of small pebbles. One by one he tossed them out onto the dirt a little ways away from him. One of them, by chance, hit a small, old, hallowed log half buried in the dry, brown grasses. A low, angry sound swelled from the opening of the log and several, large winged insects flew out, intent on finding the attacker.

Hornets!

Rôg sat stock still, eyes shut, breath held, as they buzzed near him. He let out a long breath as the sound of their angry drone drew away from him. A smile creased his face as he nodded thoughtfully.

Where there is one nest, there will be others. All I have to do is find them.

With a single, fluid movement, he stood up, shaking the dirt from his cloak. In a moment he was flying northward, in the direction Aiwendil had taken.

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Old 11-01-2006, 02:08 PM   #245
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Folwren is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.Folwren is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.
Kwell withdrew from the notice of curious eyes as quickly as he could manage. He slipped away into some shadow still available in the night and curled himself up in a ball. For a few brief moments he lay considering. He felt more at ease here than in the pit. Safe, almost. At least, more safe than he had been with immediately danger lurking just over his head. Sleep caused his eyelids to become heavy. They slowly drooped, falling lower and lower. But why would he feel safer? His eyes opened again. He had no friends here. . .except Azhar, he conceded to himself. Azhar was a friend…

Kwell drifted off into sleep. He dreamed no dreams and slept like a log, completely oblivious to everything, until waking abruptly and entirely. His eyes popped open and he sat up sharply. Everything was bright with late morning daylight. Everyone around him was very busy, hurrying to and fro. What they were busy with, Kwell had no idea.

After a moment of blinking the sleep out of his eye he got up and walked towards the nearest person. It was a young man, carrying a large stone on his shoulder.

“What is going on?” Kwell asked, stopping him with a hand on his shirt.

“Preparations for the slavers’s attack! They let you sleep in, ‘cause you were so tired, but now you’re up, you’d better start lending a hand!” He passed on, leaving Kwell standing alone, almost no better off than before. He looked around and started towards a group of people, constantly traveling in and out of an area that seemed to go underground.

“Stop! Stop!” called a voice suddenly and urgently. Kwell looked up, startled to a standstill. Someone with a dirty face waved a hand frantically for him to stop. “Don’t take another step or you’ll be above the tunnel! Come over here. Walk way round in and arc, yes, that’s right. Come here.” Kwell came and stopped before the man. “You’re a little fellow. Now, we’re digging this tunnel, see?” he turned Kwell’s face towards the small opening in the ground. “We can use boys like you in there better than one of us older chaps. If you’ll take my place below, I’ll set to work on stuff up here.”

“I can do that. But what am I to do?”

“Take this,” he handed Kwell a short, broad, flattened stick, “and this,” and handed him someone’s shirt. Crawl down there and ask the little, bearded man where to start dig. Tell him you’ve taken Dwindle’s place.”

Kwell obeyed without another word. He got onto his knees and started into the dusty tunnel.

Last edited by Folwren; 11-01-2006 at 08:22 PM.
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Old 11-01-2006, 03:01 PM   #246
Hilde Bracegirdle
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Carl

When the meeting had finally come to an end, and everyone knew what was expected of them, Carl stood up rather stiffly, and stretched out his legs as he peered this way and that around the milling figures. He was searching for a sight of that dear girl and her elderly companion, but they had disappeared among the crowd, and he wondered if they had been sensible enough to go with those whose plan was to remain hidden from the slavers. The young and the old both needed to stay hale and hardy for the hard road north, that lay ahead. For even if they did manage to catch a few horses, that grim stranger named Khamir was right, chances were there would be few people found to ride them.

Oh, if only Gondor had seen fit to send them with a wagon, even one like that monstrous contraption he’d seen in the slavers’ camp, when he’d been off spying. It would sure have come in handy if there were to be wounded folk when this was all over. But there was no sense in regretting what they didn’t have. When you’re stuck in the middle of nowhere. You’ve no chance to fix it. And Carl didn’t fancy the slavers would let them borrow their cart either, no matter how nicely they asked.

The hobbit sighed, resigning himself to searching for the woman named Brenna after the he had put in a few hours of hard work. He’d need a bit of a rest then, and hopefully he’d hear it confirmed that she and the girl had tucked themselves away out of sight.

It was not long before Carl’s head was found bobbing just above the rim of a trench, as he worked along side the hard working group that gouged the ground just beyond Vrór’s tunnel. He had volunteered his only blanket, as well as himself, so that the loose dirt and rock could be hefted out, dragged away by a pair of wiry young men who were diligently avoiding the dwarf and his shouts. Off to one side a pair of women quickly sorted through the soil removing the rocks and putting them in piles.

Carl stopped his lively whistling, stooping down to crumble the dirt between his fingers. “The soil’s different here, then it was a day’s ride away,” he observed distractedly.

“Yes, and different still from Nurn,” the worn man next to him said, as he stopped to rest against the side of the trench. “I’ve heard rumor that it is not so bad further north now that The Mountain of Fire is silent.”

“I certainly hope the rumor is right. Still with a bit of care we’ll find something to grow there. Even this poor stuff here isn’t beyond all hope.”

The man gave the hobbit a half smile before returning to work, and Carl was left with the impression that the man must have thought him a bit simple. But with the crops Carl had seen in Gondor, they could actually make the soil better. And he had learned a long time ago that a bit of magic happens if you work with what you have, instead of against it. And so he smiled to himself as he began digging again. It seemed that maybe there were one or two things he might be able to contribute to these people after all.

Last edited by Hilde Bracegirdle; 11-03-2006 at 06:01 AM.
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Old 11-01-2006, 03:26 PM   #247
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Ishkur:

Ishkur was able to ride his horse almost up to the camp. The slavers were so busy with their preparations in the western part of camp that they did not even notice the solitary figure who approached from the east. Ishkur sat waiting a very long time. The minutes and hours dragged on, but he refused to go back to the other orcs until he could bring them a piece of good news.

Although the sky had been comfortably cloudy and dark at dawn, the weather had changed by mid-morning. As Ishkur sat and waited, the sky shone clear and bright. The day was blazing hot, and the glare of the light was so intense that he found his eyes hurting. He let his horse graze nearby and found a group of boulders where he could squat on the ground and hide his head in the shadow. Every few minutes he ventured out from the rocks to see if the slavers had moved onto the plain. He watched as the men rounded up the last of the horses, strapped saddles onto the animals, and gathered up their weapons. He saw them stop to cook a light meal. That was the last thing he remembered before falling asleep.

An impatient whinny from across the camp awakened Ishkur with a start. He sprinted out into the clearing. From the look of the sun, it was well into the afternoon. Staring towards the far perimeter of the camp, he could see that the slavers had mounted their horses and were proceeding across the plain at a slow pace.

The camp was deserted. Ishkur could not see anyone; not even a sentry had been left behind. Filled with glee at this welcome sight, he charged forward on his horse, his weapon raised above his head. He made straight for the one thing he most desired. The slavers had left not one but two casks of ale. Beside the fire sat a large barrell so full of ale that it would have taken two orces to lift. Next to it was a smaller keg with a brew Ishkur did not recognize. The liquid smelled sweet and heady. He thought this was rather strange since the smell was almost like a patch of flowers growing on the hillside. Still, good brew was good brew. He wasn't going to be picky. Ishkur heaved up the small keg and strapped it on his horse's back. Then he returned to the place where the other orcs were still asleep. Galloping into camp, he roared, "They're gone! The slavers have left. I hope gone for good, but at least for today. The camp is ours whenever we want it. And look what I have brought back." He held the small cask aloft and grinned, and set it down before poking Grask and Gwerr in the ribs. then he explained, "We'll go back once the sun sets and it gets more comfortable, but why not start with a little nip here? It will get us in the right spirit." Ishkur uncorked the small barrell and filled his flagon as he cried out, "Gwerr, Makdush, Mazhg, Grask..... Everyone come here and have a taste."

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Old 11-07-2006, 12:37 AM   #248
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By mid-afternoon, most of the preparations were completed. The men had nothing left to do but wait. An uneasy feeling hung over the camp. Even Dorran and Lindir, the two members of the fellowship who had often been in situations like this, seemed impatient and tense.

Lindir felt uneasy. He had heard nothing from Rôg or Aiwendil, although the istar had promised to send back a message by pigeon the moment that the slavers appeared The elf was acutely aware that their attackers held the upper hand in the coming conflict. Despite their smaller numbers, the slavers were experienced fighters wielding sturdy swords and daggers and charging forward on the backs of horses. When compared with these battle hardened veterans, the escaped slaves seemed little more than a rag tag bunch of refugees who lacked horses or decent weapons. Most of the men had never even been in battle. Nor was everyone able to fight. Earlier that afternoon, Lindir had led a contingent of children and women, along with the sick and elderly, over to a small cove of boulders located near the rear of camp. The shelter provided by the large rocks was not ideal but the best they could manage on the flat, open plain.

All this lay heavy on Lindir’s mind as he paced about on the edge of camp, intermittently turning to stare towards the east. A short distance away, he could just make out the outline of the trench they had constructed. Vrór and Carl had done an excellent job supervising the digging. Men and women had thrown their hearts and backs into the endeavor; the tunnel was perfectly shielded and blended into the ground so that an approaching rider would have no idea of the disaster that lay underfoot. Even here, however, Lindir could see one problem. The trench was no more than fifteen feet long. What guarantee did they have that the slavers would ride their horses in that exact direction? What was to stop them from approaching camp a few paces to the right or left and totally missing the pit?

It was then that the idea struck him. He knew it was dangerous.....far too dangerous....and he could not imagine asking anyone to do this. Yet at the same time, when so much hung in the balance, he could not overlook the fact that this arrangement might save many precious lives. What they needed was a human decoy, someone willing to serve as an enticing piece of bait, preferably an unarmed woman who would stampede across the field of battle and lure the slavers onward to the exact spot where the perilous trench lay. That individual would need to be an excellent rider with a clear, cool head.. The elf hurried over to Dorran, pulling the man of Rohan to the side, and confided his fears and concerns about the coming battle, especially in relation to the trench. With some hesitation, Lindir inched on to the second part, explaining the idea about the decoy, how the slavers would be led on to their certain doom, and a great number of lives could be saved.

At first, Dorran said nothing and fixed his gaze on the ground. He could not dispute the very real wisdom of what Lindir was saying. Many, many lives could be saved if the slavers could be directed towards the pits in this way. But there was another question that hung heavy on his mind. He sighed and softly asked, “Who then would you order to do such a deed?”

“Order? How could I order anyone, especially a fair woman, to embark on such a dangerous path. No, this could not be an order. It would have to come from the heart of whoever volunteered to do this brave thing.” The two men looked at each other, both hesitent to say anything more.

Last edited by Child of the 7th Age; 11-07-2006 at 07:19 AM.
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Old 11-07-2006, 12:38 AM   #249
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Aiwendil:

Frustrated and impatient, Aiwendil pushed the end of his staff into a soft pile of sand, leaning his body against the heavy stave as he intently scanned the horizon to the east. Despite the passage of several hours, there was no sign of his friend Rôg or the band of slavers. Aiwendil had not known exactly when the attackers would come, but he had expected Rôg to be waiting for him at their chosen meeting place. The young man, however, was nowhere in sight. The istar reached inside the folds of his robe and found the small pigeon still nestled in his pocket.

The falcon had returned with several of her companions. They were gliding peacefully overhead awaiting the minute when Aiwendil would give the word to attack. Cupping his hand to his mouth, the old man called out to the same bird he had spoken with earlier that day, “When will the storm come? Can you tell?”

She had swept down and nodded, “Not long. When the sun touches the tops of those rocks over there, the great winds will begin to blow.”

Aiwendil’s eyes followed in the direction the falcon had indicated. The sun was already inching closer to the plain. In just about an hour, it would dip down into the boulders. If the slavers were coming, it must be now. He could only hope that the band had already left camp. Otherwise, their leader would see the bad weather and turn back.

A small swirl of dust and sand appeared in the distance, an indication that a group of riders was moving across the plain. About twenty-five heavily armed fighters were cantering slowly towards the west. The head falcon responded with an excited “kek, kek, kek” as Aiwendil gave the birds the signal to fly free. The istar cried to the departing falcons. “Scratch the flanks and withers of the beasts. Attack the men about the head and eyes only if it is safe. Then return home with my thanks.”

The old man watched from behind a boulder as the birds swooped down amid the riders and began darting in and out, clawing at the horses’ flanks. There were angry curses and swords drawn from sheaths as the slavers slowed their mounts in response to the attack. Several horses had deep scratches along their sides, while two of the men riding in the front had blood streaming down their faces from cuts and gashes near their eyes.

Catching a glimpse of Rôg who was returning with some interesting companions, Aiwendil reached in his pocket and drew out the bird, binding a small scrap of parchment to her leg. Then he raised up his arms and, facing west, released the pigeon into the sky.

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Old 11-07-2006, 02:55 AM   #250
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Blood!

The scent of it carried on the breeze of the men’s passing. It stirred the hornets into a hungry frenzy, diverting them from the object of their present pursuit..... Himself!

Once Rôg had firmed up his plan, he hurried as quickly as the rising wind would take him toward that place where Aiwendil had said he would most likely set the birds on the slavers. Near the rendezvous, Rôg scouted the ground carefully, looking for someplace where the ground dwelling insects might have their nest. No half buried hollowed log this time, but a branchy bush it was whose half exposed tangle of roots provided an entry way to that darkish little cavern beneath which the hornets had claimed for themselves.

He’d stomped about the bush, thumping his feet hard on the dirt, beating at the branches with a stick he’d found. It hadn’t taken much effort or time to stir the small hive of insects to a focused, angry frenzy. They’d come flying out with deadly purpose, intent on doing in their attacker.

And all praise to the old fellow for being timely with his falcons!

Rôg flew with all the speed he could muster toward the men and their horses. As the smell of their fresh wounds hit him, he dropped down low to the ground, hoping fervently that the small cloud of buzzing hornets would take the scent themselves. He closed his eyes.....and would have crossed his fingers as a warding charm had he had any in this guise. He breathed out a great sigh of relief as the angry cloud whirred over and then past him. With an economy of effort, he withdrew to the shelter of some scrubby trees, grinning as he peeked out from behind the sparse shelter at the outcome of his efforts.

A number of the horses were in a frenzy, trying to escape from the painful stings of the hornets. Their riders were scarce able to control them as they themselves were frantically attempting to wave off or kill the wingéd missiles. A few of the men fell from their horses, overcome by the deadly intent of the insects. And a number of those riderless mounts now ran wildly off.

It was a thoroughly delightful rout...at least for now.....

The hornets, he knew, once they realized the horses and men were not wounded enough to succumb to their stings and then be feasted on, would draw away and head back to their nest. Still, it had brought the advance of the slavers to a halt for the moment. And for several moments, he thought, watching as some of the less stung rode off to retrieve the runaways while others of the men called for help for their stung and painfully swelling comrades. Rôg only hoped it might buy his companions and their new allies enough time to complete their preparations against the slavers.....

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Old 11-07-2006, 05:32 PM   #251
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Hadith and Johari

Hadith was getting to where the assigned foot soldiers would gather and make clear of their tactics under the advice of Beloan and Joshwan, of whom the latter seemed to have raised to the occasion. Hadith looked at the late pirate with new eyes as he walked downhill.

On his way he bumbed into Johari. "Oh it's you again", Johari said, condescending.

“Johari! Where are you going? Are you going to join us foot soldiers? Come with me then?” Hadith was tense but tried to be manly and graceful. His mother’s teachings were deep in him.

Johari shrugged a little. "Not anywhere in particular... I'm not much one for battles, or being in the thick of them."

Hadith was upset with the answer. He was totally baffled. How could someone say something like this? But after a small pause he managed to answer her: "What do you say? You're not ready to help others... just sticking to yourself, burying your head into the ground? That's just the thing that benefits the slavers! We must stick together and that means you too! You must join us!" Hadith’s expression was filled with disbelief and begging the question.

Johari looked somewhat indifferent and mildly annoyed: "What if I told you that I don't really care, and that what happens to most of the people here doesn't matter to me?"

Hadith felt stunned for a while and forcefully brought himself to answer her with the immediate question that twirled in his mind: “What do you say?” He was nervous again, as he had been with this woman every time he had met her. But there was something more in it now. He was totally baffled with Johari. She was a wise woman but talked the contrary of every belief he himself found secure. Hadith gathered his thoughts and asked sharply his next question as he thought he had gotten a grip of what was it that they were discussing in the end.

“How would you survive alone in this land, against those slavers and the nature that is dead? Isn’t freedom also about the others?” he made a pause. Hadith was getting even more serious: “Isn’t freedom something about all the people? That you freely decide to be there for others and trust the others to be there with you?” he made a pause again, trying to avoid Johari’s eyes. “ I don’t know... You really make me confused.”

Johari smiled bitterly. "Freedom, yes, that's what it's all about. Freedom. What a concept. Freedom to do what? To what purpose? Perhaps if freedom in itself was what I wanted, I would be more inclined to care... more inclined to fight. Can I help it, Hadith, that none of this matters to me beyond how it affects me, and that as long as I make it out of here alive, with or without the rest of you, I will be satisfied? I never intended to join up with any group when I escaped, but somehow I got dragged along. I don't know why I've stayed. But... this isn't what I want." She stopped abruptly. Suddenly Johari looked and sounded more distraught than Hadith - or anyone else - had seen her in years. This expression was quickly masked again and the familiar hardness returned to her face, seeming to dare Hadith to make something of it.

Surely all this was lost from Hadith’s eyes. "What do you want then?" he asked abruptly and as he got no immediate answer, he turned away in confusion. His young heart had been wounded again by this woman, but he was not sure whether it was for good or bad.
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Old 11-08-2006, 11:12 AM   #252
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Athwen had done what she could to help with the preparations that day. There had been work to do constantly during the morning and half of the afternoon. She helped the children and women and elderly get settled in their appropriate places, hidden from view. Now there was nothing left for her to do. She wanted to speak once more with Dorran, and then return to her place and stay with the other women.

She skirted around the large boulders and rocks that created the shelter and walked down the slight incline towards the camping place. The remains of the fires dotted brown sand and men moved about or stood speaking in groups. She looked for her husband as she walked on and soon spotted him. He stood with Lindir, just behind the place where the tunnel ran guarding the encampment. They stood close together, their heads bent inward, speaking with each other as they watched the open plain.

She passed silently through the camp and drew near to the two of them. Their expressions were grave and full of thought. Perhaps more plans were being considered for that evening’s fight.

Lindir looked up when she came near and she smiled at him as she stopped by Dorran’s side. Her hand slid into Dorran’s and she looked up at him.

“Is something wrong?” she asked at once, startled by the troubled look in his eyes. But Dorran only shook his head.

“Nothing is actually wrong,” he said. “Lindir has thought of a plan that will lead the slavers into our trap here, but it needs a rider.” He told her what had passed between the two of them in a few words. When he had finished, Athwen looked steadily at him a moment, and then turned her head and looked up at Lindir.

“And you will not ask anyone to do this?”

“I will not order anyone,” Lindir replied.

Athwen looked back at her husband. “Dorran, I-” His face fell instantly, and he dropped his eyes. “I will be careful!” Athwen pressed, knowing at once that he had read her thoughts. “You need someone - you need a woman who can ride well, and I can do it! You know I can. I can lead them into the trap and then return to my place and be ready to tend to any wounds that should occur. Please, Dorran.”
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Old 11-08-2006, 04:31 PM   #253
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Johari

“You wouldn’t understand,” said Johari roughly. Likely enough, this was at least partially true. Hadith was so naïve, so full of hope; how could he begin to comprehend the crumbling world she lived in? And while he might understand about wanting to find Kalin, Johari did not want to talk about it. She did not want his help or his pity.

“I can try,” said Hadith.

He just didn’t give up on an idea! “Look, it doesn’t matter, all right? Forget I said anything.”

Hadith was looking confused – one of these days his face was going to get stuck like that, Johari thought, and smiled despite herself. He also seemed about to say something more, so Johari cut him off. “If it matters so much to you, I’ll tell you one thing. His name is Kalin. I hope that satisfies you.” Why was she telling him this, anyway? He had no right into her business. “Why do you care so much, anyway? I’ve done nothing but ridicule you, scorn you, even punch you. Don’t you ever take a hint?”
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Old 11-10-2006, 08:08 PM   #254
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Khamir

The “Dwarf,” as Khamir had learned the short, flame-haired man was, had been incredibly kind, and the Southron was still surprised by his kind, soft-spoken nature. His respect for the Fellowship had only been increasing since they arrived, and it left him feeling a little lost – though it was a more pleasant feeling than any like it he had ever had. There was little joy for himself, but plenty for others, and that made up for his losses. He was unhappy with his position, mostly because he had no idea what it was.

He was a raging mix of pride and disappointment, happiness and bitterness, strength and fear. The coming battle filled him with excitement, and he still stuck to his belief that they could not lose now, not now that they had spirit and, though he shocked himself to think it, the help of Gondor. They had waited for it for so long, that, now that it had been received, these heroes of the King were more like men out of legends than ever. And there was even an Elf among them! The tall, dark-haired man with strange ears, it was said, was an Elf, thousands and thousands of years old! With such wisdom and experience, they were in good company.

But what place did Khamir have in the coming battle? He had only one arm, he could not draw a bow, he did not have a sword and had not carried one since his youth. The Dwarf, Vrór he was called, only reassured him when he voiced his concerns, but gave no suggestions. His face, even with the majority of it covered with orange hair, appeared a little perplexed. Khamir said nothing, but inwardly thanked him for his kindness. Unable to remain with the Dwarf, obviously a natural warrior if this was the natural appearance and nature of his people, the one-armed man went to find Beloan. Even now, he would seek the man’s counsel.

His friend was leading the group of foot soldiers, and was going over plans for where they would conceal themselves until all the traps had been sprung and the archers had their share of the enemy, and how they would time their attack with regards to the predicted sandstorm. Seeing him busy, and with Joshwan, Khamir decided that now was not the best time to speak with him. His pride just could not handle being looked at as some poor injured creature, beaten down from its former position – for that was surely how many of them saw it, when they had been adverse to his leadership for some time now.

Discovering that Shae was to be a member of a small group of horsemen, he felt particularly alone.

He had to take his place somewhere in the battle, and he supposed that with these other regular “soldiers” as they suddenly called themselves was as good a fit as any. It seemed like another life in which he had drawn back a bowstring, his sights on a black-tailed jackrabbit, a kill to impress his father…

With only three throwing knives, they would not last him long. And however quick he was with his longer hunting knife, it would be nothing against the slavers’ swords and spears. He had always been about survival, and now he found himself feeling almost trapped. Over the past couple months, he had begun to realize that his own survival had been surpassed in importance by that of others. Perhaps now he could resign himself to that.

“Wi…will this knife be enough?” came a hesitant but clear and assured voice from somewhere behind him, whispering under the louder voices of Beloan and Joshwan. He turned to see the boy – or young man – who had been on watch when the slavers first attacked. Adnan. Khamir could picture his face that night, the grief and rage and shame twisting it, and looking at the fifteen year old now, he was certain that it already bore new marks of age. The way Adnan held out the knife he had been granted not too long ago it seemed he had been using it for years.

Khamir smiled, a slight smirk, from pride and compassion rather than from happiness, but his voice was as steady and heavy as ever when he spoke. “Yes, yes it will. But we will have to watch each others’ backs, won’t we?”

Last edited by Durelin; 11-12-2006 at 01:00 PM.
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Old 11-11-2006, 10:47 AM   #255
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He had been afraid of this.....afraid of it since the very first moment when Lindir had come up with the idea of sending out a skilled rider to lead the slavers' astray. Part of him had already known that Athwen was the right person for the task and that she would proudly volunteer if given the slightest chance. The problem came down on his shoulders. If he said "yes", his wife would ride and assume the terrible risk of making herself a target for an entire company of armed attackers. He also knew that, if he said "no", his wife would defer her decision and return to the relative sarety of the grove. But what would that do to her spirit, and how would she feel about a husband who put her own safety even above the oath they had jointly taken to Elessar and Eomer and to the completion of the fellowship's quest?

Dorran had lived too long in Rohan to set aside his oath in such a hasty fashion. Both he and his wife had taken on certain obligations when they had agreed to journey to Mordor and help the slaves. Athwen was no child; she had certainly been aware of that obligation just as he was. Who was he to treat her like a child and deny here the chance to do what she had promised to do?

There was a rock hard piece of Dorran's mind that could simply not erase that promise even if it seemed like the easiest thing to do. He turned back to his wife and extended his hand to hers, "I would be lying if I told you that I wanted you to do this thing. It is hard and dangerous, perhaps harder that you realize, since you have never been in a battle before. But we have made a promise to the slaves and to the fellowship itself, and we cannot turn our backs on that. If your heart is set on this, I will not say no. I ask just two things. I will wait till the slavers pass and ride immediately in back of them. I will strip off the insignia of Rohan and dress myself in plain rugged gear such as a common traveler might wear with a hood pulled down over my face. Even if one of the men notices me, he is unlikely to pay attention in the heat of the pursuit. At least that way, if anything happens, I will be right there to help."

"And the second?" Athwen queried her husband.

"The second is that you will promise to be very careful. If anything seems to be going wrong, wave your white sash in the air so that the others who are mounted can ride out to help you." For a long time, the two looked at each other. Then Dorran sighed and went on in a lower voice, "There need be no words between us. Just lean over and let me hold you gently for a bit that I may have your agreement."

An instant later and the couple stood in each other's arms, with Dorran whispering some private words in his wife's ear.

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Old 11-11-2006, 07:31 PM   #256
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Gwerr (and Ishkur)

“You never listen to others, now do you?” Gwerr said as Ishkur was making his leave. Ishkur had clearly made up his mind and seemed to be tense. Why am I bothering... I should know this. It’s all going down the drain anyhow.

With these thoughts Gwerr fell down to get some sleep but he never managed to fall in to anything like a deep sleep as he had to check every once in a while whether the Uruks were stil asleep or up to any mischief.

In the end he fell deep down into sleep anyhow. He faintly regained his consciousness hearing someone roaring enthusiastically but was truly awaken by a kick to his ribs.

"They're gone! The slavers have left. I hope gone for good, but at least for today. The camp is ours whenever we want it. And look what I have brought back."

Ishkur seemed excited – and soon Gwerr saw the reason for it. A berrell of ale was more than welcome news indeed.

"We'll go back once the sun sets and it gets more comfortable, but why not start with a little nip here? It will get us in the right spirit." Ishkur uncorked the small barrell and filled his flagon as he cried out, "Gwerr, Makdush, Mazhg, Grask..... Everyone come here and have a taste."

Gwerr rose up slowly but still was the first to reach Ishkur and his barrell. Ishkur poured his skin full to the top. Gwerr took a draught and then wiped his lips with the back of his right hand. Burping lightly he smiled to Ishkur in a faint fashion and looked around to see the other orcs to awake one by one. Even the Uruks were coming forwards.

“Okay pal, you might not have understood what I said but let’s not let that to come between us. We’ll give all these good draughts of this “flower-ale” you have brought us and then we will go and have a look into the camp, before the others come to think of it... What do you think?”

Ishkur seemed to ponder the thought for a while but then nodded. Together they started to deal rations of ale to the other orcs that were forming something like an odd queue around them. There was some jostling and pushing around but in the end most of the orcs had gotten their share and some had even managed to gain a second helping.

“Okay, time we go? Let’s fill our skins and leave? We’ll take your horse to carry the loot?” Gwerr asked as the queue had vanished and all the other orcs seemed content enough with their ale. The sun was setting, it was late afternoon. It would take an hour at least for the sun to actually set.

“We go”, Ishkur answered and rose up, picking his flagon with him. Gwerr followed him to Ishkur’s new horse and they both threw their half-empty sacks on the horse.

“Do you think your new horse will accept us two?” Gwerr asked. Ishkur hesitated for a while but then nodded. “That’s the easiest way, if you are so good with the horses you claim you are. This one is not the most compliant one”

“We’ll see about it” Gwerr said and took the horse by the reins. “Jump up. I’ll follow!” Ishkur jumped the horse and Gwerr tightened the reins, taking a firm grip from the horses neck. She was not very happy about her load and seemed to sense the next phase in advance. Slowly Gwerr managed to inch himself towards the middle of the horse that seemingly was not at all happy with the things going on. At the secure moment he jumped up on the horse too, gaining a foothold from her side and climbing up to gain balance as she took to her backfeet.

In a moment the horse was on its way, gallopping ahead. It really didn’t seem tom approve the two orcs on her.

“Now stop this!” Ishkur called as he was at the back and had no chance to steer the horse or actually make any difference. Gwerr did his best to bring the horse down in front.

“I’m doing it, I’m doing it! Wait a moment!” Gwerr replied and draw the rains as heavily as he could. With his experience Gwerr managed to bring the horse under his control after a while and in the end the she settled down and the two orcs rode slowly into the empty camp of the slavers.

It was empty indeed.

“Now see here!” Ishkur yelled as he dropped from the horse. “Here is the tent of their leader!” Gwerr jumped down as well, throwing the reins over the horse's head. They both entered the tent that was double the size of the other tents around.
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Old 11-11-2006, 07:41 PM   #257
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The Slavers....

Once the hornets had flown off, the slavers took a while to retrieve their missing horses. Then Imak ordered his men to get back in their saddles and immediately ride to the slave camp. But several of them complained loudly, since they had been badly stung around the eyes.

"You can't do that. It't not smart," confirmed Urlok, one of the oldest in the band who knew a few simple remedies. "Their faces will swell till their eyes shut. They'll be no good for fighting. Either treat the men or leave them here." A few of the others nodded in agreement.

Imak reluctantly agreed to wait until the wounds were treated. Urlok used the flat of his dagger to draw out the stingers and then made a mud paste with water from the leather pouch. He applied the soft mud dressing to their faces, and also found a bit of plantain weed, which he chewed up and spat on each of the bites. By the time he finished, a whole hour had passed, but their faces were not swelling as much.

After they mounted up, Urlok rode his horse over to Imak and said in a low voice. "Captain, the weather looks bad. A hard wind is coming." Imak stared where Urlok was pointing. He could see the wind was blowing harder and that the sky behind their backs looked more brown than blue.

"So what do you expect me to do? Wave a wand and change the weather?"

Urlok answered evenly, "Perhaps we should turn back and wait till the winds blow over. The slaves aren't going anywhere. We can ride out tomorrow morning."

"The bites, the wind. How many excuses can you come up with? You've gotten soft. A few gusts of wind aren't going to stop me. I swear I will not sleep tonight until we defeat those slaves, and I get my sword back." With that, Imak dug his heels into his horse's flanks and took off at a gallop towards the slavers' camp.
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Old 11-13-2006, 01:49 AM   #258
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Lindir:

Lindir waited until husband and wife had finished their private conversation and then went over to speak briefly with Athwen. He bent down to sketch some rough lines in the dirt, pointing out a few scrub bushes not far from camp where the woman could conceal herself until the slavers arrived as well as indicating the direction she might want to take when approaching the camp. He expressed his thanks and then reminded her that the weather and visibility could possibly be quite bad. Dorran remained nearby, carefully committing the map to memory.

Just as the elf was finishing up, a grey pigeon came circling down. landing on the ground in a wobbly manner directly ahead of them. The bird's feathers were ruffled; her wings noticably drooped. Lindir gently took the bird in his hand and removed a small scrap of parchment wrapped about its leg. The message was written in Quenyan in a remarkably delicate and precise script. Lindir stood off to one side while reading the note and then raised his voice to explain so that any others standing nearby could hear the news. "Aiwendil reports the slavers have been sighted. He and Rôg have drummed up some mischief to delay them. However, my guess is that this pigeon had tough going in the air, since the winds are beginning to blow. The slavers may be no more than thirty minutes away. It is time for each group to move into position. Go now, each of you, and tell the others. Be prepared for the slavers but do not forget the weather. Keep your heads covered and try to shield off the worst of the sand and dirt. And may Varda smile on our endeavor."

Slowly, the men and women started to disperse. Lindir bent down to retrieve his bow and slung it over his shoulder starting towards the appointed place where the archers were to meet. As he glanced eastward, the elf could see one and possibly two figures in the distance, both striding towards the camp. It was definitely Aiwendil and possibly Rôg. At the same time, the winds had picked up. The sand on the plain was swirling about in a number of small funnels and eddies, first blowing one direction and then the other. At this point, the winds and sand were no more than an irritation. But they were likely to get much worse before the night was over. Any work with the bows would have to be done early and from very close in, if there was any hope of their arrows actually hitting the mark. Aiwendil and Rôg had been right about the weather, but whether the slavers would get here first or the giant gusts of wind, he could not even guess.
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Old 11-13-2006, 05:14 PM   #259
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Athwen and Dorran saddled their horses together. They spoke very little; they had already said what needed to be said. They both noticed the steadily rising wind and the dust swirling in small circles. Athwen patted her horse’s neck when she finished tightening the girth and took his reins. She led him over to Dorran. He turned towards her as she came near.

“You will be careful?” he asked. Athwen nodded. “Where is your sash?” Athwen’s hand went to the white cloth about her neck, tucked into the collar of her shirt. “Is your horse settled in all this wind? It will only get harder and more fierce, Athwen. . .” She nodded again and a smile came to her face.

“He’ll be fine,” she said. “He has carried me a long way as it is and I don’t think he’ll fail me now.” Dorran nodded this time. “I’m going. I don’t want to be late to my post.” There was a short pause. “Goodbye,” she whispered.

He bent and kissed her gently one last time. “Goodbye,” he replied. “You’ll do well,” he added reassuringly.

Athwen mounted her horse without further ado and set him into a trot down the slight slope. She let him pace back and forth in the open land before the camp. The wind was slowly but steadily picking up strength and speed, and her gelding seemed to sense the pending danger. She felt his energy gather beneath her. His trot became quick and stiff, excited and contained with difficulty. She reined him in slowly and made him walk.

Finally, his body seemed to relax some, his attention settled and she sighed a sigh of relief. With a final glance towards the camp, she turned her horse away from it and headed towards the clump of bushes and shrubs that Lindir had pointed out to her. She dismounted there and found her best way into them with her horse. She cleared away some of the small plants so that her horse could stand fairly comfortably. She led him in and left him standing while she went back out to make certain that it would be difficult to see him behind the screen of leaves and branches.

Satisfied, she returned back to her horse and mounted him. Her heart pump nervously and a strange, tight feeling passed through her stomach. She drew a deep breath, clenched her jaw, and stared out through the leaves in to the open plain. Soon their enemies would come and she would burst through those scraggly branches and go flying out before them. . .in peril. Yes, there would be peril. Her throat tightened briefly with fear that she might never return, that she might not see Dorran again. But a moment later, resolve hardened itself within her, and new feeling pulsed through her veins. She sat up higher in her saddle and lifted her chin a little. She would ride to make her husband, and Rider of Rohan, proud.

Last edited by Folwren; 11-13-2006 at 09:13 PM.
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Old 11-13-2006, 07:00 PM   #260
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Ishkur:

"I wonder what's here? Makdush isn't the only one who deserves a prize." Ishkur grinned at Gwerr and started rummaging through the objects in Imak's tent. He was disappointed not to find weapons, but almost tripped over a small chest hidden underneath a pile of blankets. It was a sturdy wooden box with a metal chain attached to a stake in the ground. Ishkur jerked on the chain but the stake didn't move. He couldn't carry away the chest without spending a lot of time digging up the stake, and he didn't want to waste time doing that. The wooden box was locked tight. He couldn't see any key, since the slavers' chief probably carried it with him. Ishkur picked up the chest and violently shook it. The box did not open but inside he could detect a pleasant jingling noise.

For a moment Ishkur sat thinking. Then he ran out to the woodpile and found what he was looking for. He came back in the tent carrying an axe that the slavers used for chopping firewood. The orc brought down the axe and the top of the box splintered into pieces. A whole hoard of coins came tumbling out. Ishkur's eyes widened in glee. He had not seen this much gold and silver for a long time. It was obviously the wages the chief paid his men plus profits the slavers had collected from the last haul they'd dragged back to the plantation.

"Well, my friend! We may not agree on everything but we can surely agree on this. We'll be doing these slavers a favor if we empty out their chest. That way they won't have such a heavy burden to lug. You and I could use this. Land up north is free but horses and other things cost money and can be bought from some of the caravans that travel south to Nurn. Now all we have to do is figure out a way to bring these coins with us but keep them hidden. I wouldn't mind sharing a coin or two with a few of the girls, but I sure wouldn't want our friend Makdush to get any idea about this." Ishkur took several swigs of ale and asked. "Alright Gwerr, any ideas?"

Last edited by Regin Hardhammer; 11-14-2006 at 08:51 AM.
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Old 11-14-2006, 11:51 AM   #261
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Carl

Carl was just empting the last load of dirt from the blanket, which had hauled in the past hour or so and with the help of Stumps, enough dirt to fill the large hole where the tunnel had collapsed, when word reached him. It was time for all to get in their positions. Sweating and red-faced, the farmer stood up, pausing to wipe his forehead. Fortunately, exertion had helped dissipate the embarrassment that had settled on him earlier, when stepping back to admire the trench, he had inadvertently tread on that delicate illusion of solid ground that Vrór had so cleverly engineered, disappearing from view rather rapidly, and painfully.

But by good fortune he was not seriously hurt, except that his pride had suffered a thorough bruising, and even then no one had made him feel the worse for his clumsiness, except for his own exacting conscience. The dwarf had even gone so far as to try to console him, calling it a proper, if unscheduled test that showed the tunnel would work as planned. For if the weight of a hobbit broke the earth, how much more so would that of a horse and rider. So Carl nodded thankfully at Vrór grateful for his perspective, and taking off his vest he set about fixing the problem.

But now when he finally was called to take up his bow and ready himself, the earth was marred with tell tale signs, and rough. And what is more, when he went to pull up his blanket, he found the bottom half deeply buried and much to his dismay quite immovable. The hobbit rapidly took the knife from his belt, and cut the blanket free, leaving a ragged end protruding above the ground.

After quickly tamping down the dry clods with his bare feet, and scooping up his vest and quiver, Carl led Stumps to where a young man stood waiting for him, while the other horsemen were gathering. Handing over the reigns, the hobbit committed the pony into the man’s care, bidding them both to take care of the other. Then turning his back to the faithful beast he went to station himself as planned.

Last edited by Hilde Bracegirdle; 11-17-2006 at 02:57 PM.
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Old 11-14-2006, 11:59 AM   #262
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Zagra & Mazhg

Zagra clapped her hand over her mouth to stifle a giggle. ‘Good thing,’ she whispered to her sister, ‘that those men have all left! Those two are loud as piggies in the garbage heap.’

Mazhg gave a soft grunt of assent and plucked at her sister’s arm, indicating she should come along. Ishkur and Gwerr were busy with something in one of the slavers’ tents. The women had watched as he ran from the tent and returned just as quickly with an axe he’d found. They heard the sound of wood splintering beneath the ax-blade as they drew near the back of the tent. And now, pressing their ears against the cloth they could hear the clinkety-clink-clink of metal.

‘Treasure!’ Mazhg whispered, close in her sister’s ear. ‘Coins they call them. You know - those round, pretty metal things the men traded back and forth for things.’ She put her finger to her lips and listened even closer. ‘They’re going to take them,’ she went on. ‘ Oooh! And not tell Makdush.....’

‘He’s big and mean,’ Zagra whispered back. ‘Let’s get away, real quick! I don’t want that one to think we’re in on it.’ Her eyes were big with fear. ‘Squash us like a bug under his thumb if he thinks we did him wrong.’

Mazhg knew her sister would start whimpering if they stayed any longer. She took Zagra’s hand and pulled her to the safety of the slaver camp perimeter. They hid behind a tree, until Zagra felt safe.

‘You know, sister-mine,’ Mazhg spoke low, her mind turning over possibilities. ‘Let’s look quick-quick in some of the other tents along the outside, here. We can find something for us; some small things we can hide in our clothes. Makdush doesn’t need to know about that either and neither do the others. Just a few small things.....as no one’ll notice are even gone....’

Zagra held tight to her sister’s hand as the two slipped quickly through the shadows once again toward the tents.

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Old 11-15-2006, 08:48 AM   #263
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It hadn't taken very long for the slavers to cross the remaining stretch of land and arrive at the outskirts of the camp. In the meantime, the winds had picked up and darkness was beginning to descend. As Imak pulled his horse to a halt, the sands and dirt were already swirling about in small eddies that made it difficult to see more than a few feet away.

"Captain, the weather has turned bad," one of the men bellowed above the howling winds. "Urlok was right. Maybe we should turn back?"

Imak stubbornly glared over at the offending voice and snapped, "Afraid of a little bad weather? We've come this far, and I swear I'll not turn back. And just to sweeten the pot, there's double pay for every man who follows me!"

The men answered with an approving roar. The wind died down for a minute, and the outlines of the slave camp stood no more than a hundred feet away. "Forward then," Imak cried out and began urging his horse to a gallop, with everyone following close behind.

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Old 11-17-2006, 09:28 AM   #264
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Vrór

It was refreshing to find that his work might indeed serve its purpose, and Vrór’s joy was genuine when he shared it with Carl rather than growing angry at the Hobbit’s clumsiness. Even the small stature and light step of a Halfling brought down that section of the tunnel. But the Dwarf knew anything he built or designed like the back of his hand, and he did not recall having additional supports in that piece when the Hobbit stepped on it. It was nearly in the middle of the tunnel, with about two and a half meters on either side of it, and he had allowed it to serve as a test, though not in the way Carl had made it.

It had been a risk to remove the simple wood structuring that he knew might be the only thing really holding the walls and ceiling up in the tunnel, but he had to test some part of it, to know whether or not he had successfully designed an easily collapsible tunnel, or simply a collapsed tunnel. That section had held up even after the supports were removed, and Vrór was tempted to take away all of the supports. But he could not bear to see his work go to waste like that, lest other parts be considerably weaker than the one Carl had fallen into. And even more so, he could not bear to see the disappointment in the faces of those he worked with: Fellowship and slaves alike.

Never had the Dwarf had to do a project such as this. About the closest thing was his more recent work in Gondor, but that was focused on his expertise of masonry. Balancing stone in arches and walls was one thing – balancing keeping a tunnel a tunnel with making sure the soil above it gave way under a step was another matter entirely. His understanding of soil only went so far, and he was glad of Carl’s help in understanding it, but neither of them were familiar with the sort of ground in Mordor. It was in every way a foreign, wild, savage landscape. Its people, though, were in many ways quite the same as those in the West.

In the West, though, Vrór had not had to face death or destruction in a long time. He had grown quite used to peace, though the idea that Sauron’s shadow could no longer haunt any part of Middle-earth was still a little difficult to comprehend, particularly when he stood on dry earth in the middle of Mordor staring at the Ephel Dûath. His heart was filled with sorrow and pity for this land and its people, through the fear and dread and hatred he could not fully suppress after the darkness of the Eye, and he could not stand to think that he might fail them. Failure to help and protect these people was a failure in fully defeating Sauron and his legacy. This land, and its people, had suffered long enough.

He could imagine what it felt like to stand as one of the few who marched from Gondor with Elessar on that day Sauron was destroyed, not knowing if it would be they who were destroyed or the Dark Lord: he thought he might be feeling quite similar at that moment. Vrór pictured the slavers riding toward him, cruel gleaming gold, and but two-dozen were transformed into an army of thousands. A few of their mounts fell, and they with them, into the trench, and he waited for more to fall, but they kept coming. He could feel the ground shaking beneath his feet.

He just did not know for sure if it would work. The Dwarf had been afraid of any danger befalling those working on the excavation, and so he had not been reserved in giving the walls and ceiling of the tunnel as much support as possible. Surely the strength of horses hooves would force the ground out beneath them, and splinter even some of the thicker planks they salvaged. Surely...and yet he could not be sure. Vrór had always been extremely particular in his work. Nothing was to be declared finished or usable or even allowed to be touched by anyone other than those working on it until he had double-checked and triple-checked that there was no fault to it that might prove dangerous even after decades of hard use. And never had he not been present to see his creation used for the first time: whether it was a door being opened and shut, a millstone being ground, or an archway being walked under for the very first time. This tunnel had only to work once, but it had to, and that made it all the more important.

Vrór knew quite well that, had he told anyone his plan, they would have told him it was senseless. If any part of it would collapse easily under the foot of a Hobbit, with or without supports, it would not stand up to a horse bearing a full grown, armoured man. But with only fifteen feet of a chance for them to cross it at all, there was no way the Dwarf could simply wait and see.

Perhaps he was a little obsessive.

As the winds picked up, Vrór could not help but feel the slavers were nearing. He thought it foolish to think that he would base this assumption on an old man’s prediction and promise, but he shook with fear and anticipation down to his very bones as soon as the sand started whipping up into his face. Wrapping two kerchiefs around the upper and lower parts of his face to cover as much as possible, he left enough so that he could see, and make his way quickly and quietly towards the entrance to the tunnel – which was turned in the opposite direction from which the slavers would be approaching the camp – keeping so low that he practically crawled.

Once inside the tunnel, he cursed himself for not being better prepared, as he had not remembered any sort of light. The brightness of the sky had already decreased as the windstorm prepared itself to really blow, and it would only get worse. Carefully, painfully, he removed one of the first wooden slats that had been placed to keep the tunnel up, holding in his breath. Nothing. He pulled out another, and another, moving down the tunnel. He left a few he saw to be particularly well-placed in, saving them, possibly, for on his way back, for he knew he would hit a wall soon. Then he would have to make his way down the other side.

His lungs stressed and his heart almost sore from all its pounding, Vrór stole his way into the other side of the tunnel, and did as he had on the former. He worked his way down, forcing himself to move only as quickly as he could without becoming careless. All seemed quite well until he found that pulling at a plank, originally a part of a small cart, caused dust and dirt to fall from above him, and then all his fears came rushing back. Perhaps he could just leave it?

The Dwarf frantically tried to come to terms with one of his options, and after wasting several moments, he remembered what the howling outside the tunnel meant. He pressed his ear, frozen, and blocked out the strange whipping and whistling sounds the wind made blowing across the tunnel opening with his hand against his other ear. Vrór waited for a few seconds to hear or sense vibrations in the earth, a sign of the horses drawing near. He could not move until he was sure that he did or did not hear them, and that he practically mistook the pounding of his heart for the pounding of hooves did not help. When he thought he heard something beating at a very different pace from the thing in his chest, he spent a moment in disbelief before rushing into action.

The beating was growing louder in his ears, though he was now no longer sure what to attribute any sound to. Just a few more feet to the spot Carl had filled in, and then back, removing the final pieces as he went... Forced to feel his way now, it was slower work then did him well. He should have left the final board, the one that he had spent too long deliberating over already, and he had his mind made up to...until he passed it once again. Vrór found himself stopping before it and slowly inching it out. It was just a few more feet till he would be able to crawl out and run to safety, anyway. But inch-by-inch soon became centimeter by centimeter. The pounding grew louder. Finally, he gave up and wrenched it away before scuttling as fast as he could toward the entrance.

It worked! he thought as everything grew completely dark and he found himself unable to move. Perfectly...

Last edited by Durelin; 11-20-2006 at 01:24 PM.
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Old 11-18-2006, 03:52 PM   #265
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Lindir had been right. The visibility was bad, due to the wind. Gusts of strong wind grabbed up sheets of the powdery top dirt and pushed it on violently before it. The branches of the thicket around her swayed and bent in the wind. Momentarily, she doubted being able to see the group of slavers when they came. She felt a horrible feeling as she thought, what if she missed them? She licked her dry lips.

A strong burst of wind brought a new covering of dust that reached even Athwen, protected as she was. She bent her head and turned away from it. When she looked up again, her heart gave a great leap. There they were, as though they had sprung out of the earth. A few agonizing seconds past. The blood pumped in her ears, blocking all other sound. They were so near. . .so near. . .

“Gy’ap!” she cried hoarsely, and squeezed her heels sharply into her horse’s side. His head came up, his nostril’s quivered with indignation, and he bounded forward, through the last few bushes that hid them, and bounded out across the troubled earth. Faster, faster, his hooves pounded in the soft dirt. Athwen urged him on, into a faster trot, and then breaking into a canter. She sat erect and tall, rigid and proud. She let them see her. She let them look.

Straight before their path she cantered. Her horse took the ground with ease, his neck arched and his mane flying in the wind. He was fresh and not tired and his pure blood pumped with excitement through his veins.

Would they follow? Would they fall for this preciously lade bate? Athwen knew there was little space between her and the camp. They would have to turn. . .but would they follow her for such a long distance? She would taunt them, play with them. Gently, she tightened the reins and slowed her horse. He tossed his head, but his feet slowed. They drew nearer. Yes, they were following. How long, though? How long?

So close. Even in the wind and flying sand, she could see their weapons. She gave slack to the reins and he bounded forward. She gauged his speed until they had made the full loop. They were facing the camp straight on now. Ahead of them, she knew the traps lay, waiting for their prey. She could lead them straight to it. They were just behind her, the nearest of them on her horse’s very tail. She bent her body over his neck, her face in his flowing mane, her hands reached forward, giving him everything she could, and she dug her heels into his side.

The horse fairly flew. She heard his powerful breath, but she barely felt the impact of his hooves on the ground. Thus far, she had succeeded in her mission.
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Old 11-18-2006, 05:24 PM   #266
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Imak:

The wind thundered in Imak's ears as he savagely kicked his horse's flanks and urged his mount forward at breakneck speed. He had pulled out ahead of the others but then hauled back on the reins and slowed down to a lope to consider their situation. Even with the murky curtain of sand and dust, he had come close enough to glimpse a rough outline of the camp. Imak could make out a few huddled human forms just ahead, but he still could not tell if the defenders of the camp were limited to men. Young women fetched good prices on the market, and, despite his earlier show of wrath, he did not want to forego that source of profit.

Long years of leading this kind of attack made Imak suspect that several of the younger women and children might have been taken behind the lines and deposited in a safe niche. Quickly glancing over his shoulder, he bellowed at Urlok, "Take four more men and swing north. Approach the camp from the back. Look for a grotto where some of the slaves may be hiding. Get rid of the elders and the babes. Grab a few of the women. Then ride south and we'll meet up in the middle of camp. They have so few horses and weapons you should be able to push on without much trouble."

"Aye, Captain," the older man replied smartly, inviting a small contingent to ride north with him. As the band disappeared into the swirling sands, Imak pointed his own horse towards the south, thinking to approach the slaves from the underside of their camp. They would have the captives in a pincer and be able to fan out and surround them.

With that goal in mind, Imak motioned the men to follow and began cantering steadily south. But before he could advance more than a dozen paces, a lone rider came pounding into their field of vision: a young and healthy woman with golden hair streaming down about her shoulders. The slavers had been working on the plains almost six months and in that entire time had seen nothing as enticing as this. Even Imak turned around to stare and had to pull back hard on the reins to overcome his natural instincts to take off to the west and give chase. He yelled out to his men to hold steady. About half the group followed his command and continued in his track But the other half-- men who were young, impetuous and less experienced in battle--gave a mighty whoop. Spurred on by the heat of battle fury or perhaps not seeing or hearing their Captain clearly amidst the swirling sands, they impulsively jerked their horses around and raced towards the attractive figure. Imak cursed and cried out to the men to return, but his words were swallowed by the hard gusts that battered everything in their path.

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Old 11-18-2006, 06:44 PM   #267
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Johari

Johari squatted down uneasily near some of the women she had overheard talking the previous night, waiting with them for the battle to start. She wished now that she had paid more attention to the battle plans; she was in the middle of it, whether she liked it or not, and had no idea what was going on or what she would be expected to do, or what these people she had finally settled in with were planning on doing. She should have asked Hadith while she was talking to him, but even the thought of asking him about anything left an unpleasant taste in her mouth.

Her talk with him had ended badly. After her outburst, he had stood there shocked for several moments trying to think of something to say when Johari had interrupted, fighting hard to keep her voice under control. "Right then. You had best be getting on with the rest of the group... the battle seems about to begin." Then she had turned on her heel and left, keeping her pace strictly measured. She wanted to break off and run as she might have as a child or young teen. She didn't know what kind of answer she had wanted or expected from Hadith, or even if she had wanted to hear one. It was as if some part of her wanted only to reject any offer of caring or friendliness as one of those things it was easier and better to live without. Wasn't that why she wanted to find Kalin? To feel as if she wasn't so alone in the world?

You are alone in the world, some voice told her.

Not while Kalin's still out there somewhere, she answered fiercely.

Why not let someone else in? Why not let Hadith in?

He's young - naive - confused - obnoxious sometimes... But they were feeble excuses, and if Johari would admit it to herself, she would realize that she wanted Hadith to come out of the battle all right.

Of course he would. By believing it, she could make it fact, a strategy that had worked well over the years. She had believed she would make it out of slavery, hadn't she? And that had happened. She would find Kalin, and Hadith would survive the battle. Simple as that.

Before she ever saw the horses, she heard the hoofbeats. They were coming. In the gusting wind and gathering darkness, she could not see. She only wished she knew what was going on. She wished she knew as much as Hadith sometimes seemed to think she did.
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Old 11-20-2006, 12:29 PM   #268
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Hadith

They were on their knees waiting. The wind had steadily arisen and the gusts were ever more fiercer. There were five of them in the front row and six in the line behind them. The visibility was reducing from poor to non-existant. There was sand all over, the fine dust of Mordor filled the air around them and with violent breezes it filled their noses and ears. They were silent and they waited.

Joshwan was in the middle, his blade still sheathed as he had a spear in his right hand leaning to the ground tip down so that the line of it could not be seen. As the most experienced fighter around he would lead the way jumping over the tunnel and attempting to bring down one rider who would not have fallen into the trap. Erlech was farthest right. He also had a spear and would go round the tunnel from his side, trying the same as Joshwan. Hadith was at the left end of the row. Beloan was kneeling between him and Joshwan, looking stern and focused. Then there was this bearded and grim-looking former ex-slave Hadith didn’t know by name between Joshwan and Erlech. Hadith took a short glance around the front row. Only five men. Looking backwards he could see Khamir and Adnan behind him and then some others he didn’t recognise by name – albeit the last in the right end of the second row was Fewerth. So this is the best we can muster against a cavalry of experienced riders? Hadith thought to himself shaking his head slightly. He was afraid.

Hadith thought of Johari again, as he had so many times after she had left him with biting words. What have I done wrong to her? He thought for the hundreth time. Why is she like that? What has happened to her? Hadith just couldn’t understand. But the more he thought of her, the more he wished to understand her. There was something in her, some magic, something he could not form an idea in his feelings, let alone describe in words in his mind.

Suddenly he felt a strong urge to go and see that Johari had made it to the safety and was not wandering around alone as an easy pray to the slavers. He should go and see to her. But it was not his will-power that restrained him from springing up and making the dangerous and stupid thing he was wishing to do. His legs just refused to move. They felt like they were made of a mass of trembling jelly over which he had no control.

Hadith remembered Joshwan and Beloan encouraging the men just an half an hour ago. The mood had been different then, although also some grave words had been uttered. Hadith closed his eyes from yet another gust of wind and just dived to the past words.

“The sound of a charging cavalry disheartens even the experienced soldier. It will sound like a thunder of Darkness itself is coming to get you, rushing over you with a force you can not withhold. That is what you’re going to hear. I’ve stood against a cavalry onslaught twice and at the first time I wetted my pants from the sheer horror of it. But I’m alive as you can see!” That had been Joshwan.

“We will be afraid brothers. We will be. But just because of that no one should be ashamed of it! It’s all about overcoming the fear. Show them our hearts are ringing! Show them that our hearts are a mighty-thumping! Show them our hearts are made of iron! We will fight for our freedom!” That had been Beloan in turn.

Hadith remembered the upbeat feeling there had been just a while ago. Beloan had asked him to join the first row, to join him, by his side. Overrun by the enthusiasm of that moment Hadith had agreed. It had been an honour to be called to the first row. He remembered Adnan’s face as he had walked to the first line beside Beloan. Somehow he had felt sorry for the guy.

Now he was getting second thoughts and was more than happy on behalf of Adnan who got to be on the second row. What am I doing here? I’m just a boy! I’ve thrown a knife at a human being once, instinctively. I’ve killed a few deer... I’m no soldier. I’m no warrior. What will I do when the thunder of the onslaught will come? My legs don’t obey me even now.

Hadith didn’t hear or see them coming as the gust of wind deafened his ears and brought the visibility next to nothing. But he felt them. At first it was just a slight trembling of the ground under him, but it grew stronger by the second and in no time the earth had started to shake violently. Then he heard them despite the ever harder blowing wind. Joshwan had been right. Hadith felt his blood rushing away from his limbs and started to tremble himself. His teeth were chattering and he felt dizzy. If his legs seemed not ready to follow his orders a moment ago, now he didn’t even feel their presence any more.

As Beloan’s hand fell on his shoulder he wetted himself from sheer panic that had totally immobilised him. He felt that he had no control over his body. The approaching sound of the hooves filled his consciousness and made even his mind to go on slow motion. Hadith was shaking all over, uncontrollably.

“Courage, Hadith, Courage” Beloan said to him in a low voice, leaning carefully towards him and taking a firmer grip on his shoulder. Even Beloan felt tense and a bit shaky. “For freedom, Hadith. If we don’t fight, who will?”

As Beloan withdrew his hand there was a new and even fiercer gust of wind that filled Hadith’s ears and nose with dust and for a moment the thunder of the oncoming cavalry went off. Then, just without warning the wind ceased for a second. He saw something. There was a lonely rider coming towards them. Just then the rumble of the chasers filled his ears again and he felt the earth pounded under the heavy horses. The sound now even beat the howling of the wind.

This is it then... Courage Hadith, courage.

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Old 11-20-2006, 03:50 PM   #269
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Aiwendil and Lindir:

The journey back to camp had not been easy. With the winds gusting hard from behind, the old man had found it took all his strength and will just to place one weary foot in front of the other and somehow keep moving in a straight line. If it hadn't been for Rôg and his uncanny sense of direction even in the middle of the blowing sand and dirt, Aiwendil would likely have veered off on the wrong path and totally missed the encampment. As it was, their return trek had been frustratingly slow. They had staggered into camp just a few moments before the main body of the attackers came riding into view.

At least he and Rôg had managed to stall the slavers long enough to allow Lindir and the others to complete their preparations for the camp. Nor was it a bad thing to have the slavers caught up in the storm, scarcely able to see more than a few feet in front of them. Aiwendil had spoken briefly with the elf, first telling him what had happened out on the plain. Then he had offered to mount up and go with the group of riders who would be the first to face the attacking slavers. Lindir had responded with a slow shake of his head, "You would be a welcome addition to the riders, of course. If you feel that is where you belong, I will not stop you. Still, something else has been bothering me. Aiwendil, we have unprotected women and children, to say nothing of the elders, hiding in the rocks just west of camp. It is not much cover at all, but we could find nothing better. If the slavers attack head on and we manage to stop them, then all should be well. But how do we know they will all ride into camp on exactly the path we want? Or, worse yet, what if we are not able to halt them? I can not leave those people without the slightest shred of protection. Aiwendil, could you and possibly Rôg go out and join them? If there is an attack from the rear, do what you can to protect those folk."

Aiwendil quickly countered, "I will do as you say. But what can two do against a band of roving warriors?"

"To be truthful, I am not sure. I only know that two are better than none. There are others hiding in the rocks who might be able to help in a pinch. That young man Kwell who was rescued from the pit, the one to whom I gave the dagger, put him in charge of the other boys in case there is fighting. Have them all collect some rocks. Perhaps some of the boys have slings. Anything is better than nothing. And if the battle does come to you, you must call out to me. If I still have breath in my body, I will hearken to your cry and immediately send more fighters down to help you."

"I will do this then. Whether or not Rôg will agree, I do not know. But I will ask him as you suggest." With that, Aiwendil unstrapped his sword from the back of his horse and gave the animal to Lindir, suggesting that it be given to one of the others to ride.

Last edited by Child of the 7th Age; 11-22-2006 at 02:25 AM.
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Old 11-21-2006, 12:32 AM   #270
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Brinniel is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.Brinniel is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.Brinniel is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.
As time passed, the storm only grew stronger. The wind howled with a fury and dust blew into Shae's face, causing her eyes to tear. She sat impatiently on top of the horse she had won- a horse she had named Furie- waiting, waiting for what seemed like hours.

As soon as it was announced that a cavalry would be formed, Shae volunteered to be part of it. After only one night on horseback, she had already grown accustomed to riding, and could not bear to part from this particular mare. If Shae had not been enslaved, she would have been an expert rider by now. Her great-grandfather had been a Rider of Rohan, and though they were Gondorians by two generations, her father often took pride in his grandfather's heritage. They owned many horses, and Shae had been taught to ride before she even learned to walk. Her father told her she had natural talent and a special bond with the creatures, and it proved so. By the age of five, she could ride just as well as Joren, who was eleven at the time. But after twenty years, Shae had lost much of what she learned- she could not claim to be anymore than a novice rider. Yet, over the course of one night, memories of the lessons her father gave came flooding back into the woman's memories, and she felt an attachment to Furie that she could not explain. While she was no where close to being an expert rider, Shae no longer felt uncomfortable in her saddle. On top of this horse was where she belonged, and sitting there gave her a thrill she had not experienced in years.

The dust storm only continued to grow in strength, blinding the woman's already poor vision. She began to ponder whether it was even possible to fight in such conditions. Relying on her ears, Shae listened closely, past the wailing wind. And then, the sound she had been searching for: hoofbeats. Clutching her long knife in her right hand and the reins in the other, she eyed the men next to her, who sat on their horses just as anxiously. She gave them a slight nod, listening as the hoofbeats grew louder. It would not be much longer. Her wait would soon be over.

Last edited by Brinniel; 11-21-2006 at 11:46 PM.
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Old 11-21-2006, 09:10 PM   #271
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Folwren is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.Folwren is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.
Athwen

The camp was drawing nearer. Athwen slowed her horse a trifle again, to make sure that the men following her were not discouraged. She looked over her shoulder. Less than half of the whole group followed her. But, still. . .there might be ten men in pursuit. She looked back ahead. There was a place to cross safely, she knew. But this wind and this sand made it almost impossible to see. Would her trusty horse see the trench to jump it? She knew how he moved and how he sensed his footing. He could feel her excitement, her urgency, and she had not the slightest doubt that he would jump – if he saw the trench in time.

Nearer and nearer they came. Athwen gathered herself up for the leap. She tightened the reins, gathered his head, and lifted herself above the saddle. The trench had to be only a few strides ahead and in a moment he would be preparing for the jump. Now was the time! Now!

The horse didn’t jump. A breathless, gasping whiny of protest burst from his mouth. His feet came to a skidding stop, the open trench just before him. A scream mounted in Athwen’s chest, but her throat contracted in panic and it could not escape. Her forward momentum did not stop and she shot forward, over the horse’s head. She felt herself falling and there was nothing to hold onto, nothing to cling to, except the reins in her hands. Her fingers grasped them convulsively and wouldn’t let go. She landed in the trench, her feet beneath her, her side against the dirt wall, and one arm stretched above her head as her hand clutched the reins.

An instant later, nine horses plunged passed her, their riders unable to stop them. They leaped the trench, and she cowered beneath them as their legs and bellies rushed above her. She didn’t see what happened to them, whether the tunnel collapsed, or what happened to the horses that fell in it. She was gasping and panting for breath, trembling with the aftermath that such a burst of pure terror causes.

The trench in which she knelt blocked most of the wind. The air was still around her and she could catch her breath. She let her hand slide down the reins without letting go, and for a moment she just lay there with the side of her face against the cool dirt.

Suddenly, she felt a touch on her shoulder. She jerked violently, her heart leaping again to her throat. She twisted away and this time the scream escaped her open mouth. Her movement was too late. The man had her arm in an iron grip and he dragged her up from the trench, back into the wind. She tried to struggle, but he had some sort of armor on and it hurt her hands to strike. In her attempt to get free, she let go of the reins and her horse turned and trotted away from the struggle.

“Come on, come on, come on,” the man muttered as he tried to keep his hands on his squirming captive. “Don’t cause such trouble, my sweet.” Athwen trembled from head to foot with contemptive horror. Tears of rage and terror filled her eyes and coursed down her face. She didn’t care if it hurt, she fought and struck out all the harder. She had to get loose, she had to! She would rather be killed than be taken at this point. Her hands were cut – she could see blood on them though she felt nothing – and still she fought, although he dragged her farther on, towards his horse, where he wanted her.

Last edited by Folwren; 11-22-2006 at 01:16 PM.
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Old 11-21-2006, 09:26 PM   #272
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Kwell

Where Kwell sat at this point, sheltered as he was with the rocks and bushes and other plants, he could see hear the wind and see the great clouds of dust roll over the hidden shelter for the children and women. Not much wind reached them, though it wailed in a melancholy, ghostly way through the rocks.

He sat apart from the other children, who huddled close to the women and the elderly men who could not go out at fight. His habitual scowl decorated his face as he drew in the dirt with a small stick with one hand, while his other clenched and unclenched around the hilt of the dagger that Lindir the elf had given him the previous night.

Until now, no one had heard any sound coming from the encampment below them. The wind howled over their heads and would have swept any noise away. But suddenly, the wind died momentarily, and Kwell heard shouts.

All of the childrens’ heads raised, and some of the older people who still had somewhat sharp hearing looked up, too. The attack had begun. In a moment, the wind picked up again and they could hear nothing.

Kwell bounded to his feet and crawled towards an opening. He heard a step behind him and he turned sharply to see Azhar.

“What are you doing here?” he asked harshly.

“What are you going to do?” she asked instead. She guessed almost instantly. “Don’t go down, Kwell, you’ll get killed! Stay here like you were told.”

“I’m not given orders any more!” he said brusquely. “You stay here. You’re sick. And you’re a girl, besides, so you can’t come anyway.”

“I don’t want to. But you need to stay here. The order was to keep you safe. You’re just a boy, after all!”

Kwell gave her a poisoned look that told her to hold her tongue. “I can fight,” he said. “I have a dagger. And the elf told me I wasn’t a child any more. Besides, that. . .that dwarf – no, hobbit-” he still had difficulty keeping the two races separate in his mind “-that hobbit is no larger than me and he’s fighting. Let me go!” He pushed her hand away and before she could speak again, he scrambled through the rock and dropped onto the ground. Instantly, he was enveloped in the fierce wind and the blowing sand and dirt. He scrambled as quickly as he could down the shallow incline towards the camp and where he knew that shortly, if not already, men were fighting for lives and freedom.

Last edited by Folwren; 11-22-2006 at 08:47 AM.
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Old 11-22-2006, 08:28 AM   #273
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Rôg reached into the pocket of his cloak and pulled out a bright yellow scarf. It was one his sister had made for him, knowing his love for those bright little birds of their homeland. With a few quick wraps he’d secured it across his mouth and nose. And pulling up his generous hood he brought it forward far enough to deflect at least part of the swirling sands.

The hornets had gone back to their nest, safe from the wind’s stinging debris. Were the situation that his friends and new acquaintances not been so dire, Rôg too would have gone to ground to wait for the sandstorm’s passing. Instead, he lowered his head and trudged with a quick determined step toward where the others were waiting.

Lindil he could see was arranging his meager troops to meet the slavers’ onset. Eyes narrowed, Rôg looked about for Aiwendil. He was not among the fighters. Rôg cast about, looking this way and that as his steps carried him away from the ragtag warriors.

Ah! There was the old man – a covey of women and children taken under his wing. He and they were preparing in their own way to defend themselves if the slavers broke through the fellowship’s armed ranks. Rôg slipped in among them, gathering a few of the younger children in, pushing them in amidst the safety of the larger group.

The others were bringing out their little slings and sharpened planting sticks in preparation for their defense. Rôg’s hand patted along his belt looking for his knife. A smallish weapon, but at least it would be something. Pat as he might, he felt nothing. You bubble-headed fool! he growled at himself. And look, you haven’t even your walking stick to knock the foe about.

He rubbed at the gold stud in his left ear. Some sand perhaps had irritated it he thought at first. His scalp prickled as he touched the flat little oval, whether in anticipation of the coming battle or in dread, he could not tell.

‘Well, if I must,’ he whispered as if to the keening wind, ‘I will. I’ll try to be discreet. Though really I’d rather not at all, if you don’t mind.’ He pulled his hood a little further forward, readying himself for whatever might happen in the attack and the defense.

For just one moment, in a brief lull in the sand and wind’s duet, he thought he heard the rasping voice of the old woman from the eastern mountains. ‘Step up, little one!’ And then only her amused laughter fading on the wind as it rose it force again.

Last edited by piosenniel; 11-25-2006 at 01:44 PM.
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Old 11-22-2006, 01:13 PM   #274
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For a moment Azhar stood frozen on top of the hill, unable to move or speak. She could not believe Kwell was deserting her and disobeying Lindir's instructions. When the elf had led them into the grove, he had been very clear about what they should do. He had told them to stay and that the older children should try and help protect the little ones.

As Kwell scrambled away without a backwards glance, Azhar darted a few steps forward and cried out in parting, "Kwell, you louse. I'm no child. I'm as old as you. You're just doing this to show off and prove something to yourself. A real soldier wouldn't disobey his captain's instructions, and he wouldn't desert his post, just because he doesn't like the job he's been given."

Azhar stomped back up the hill in a grim mood. Despite her brave words, she felt lonely and deserted. Maybe Kwell was right. They had stuck her here because she was too sick and young to fight. Basically, she was useless. At least Lindir had given Kwell a weapon. She didn't even have that. What if an attack on their position came? How would she protect herself or the younger children if she had nothing more useful than her bare hands with which to fight? Forgetting her fever and the persistent ache in her head, Azhar stood up and slowly began to gather rocks, still feeling utterly useless.

Last edited by Tevildo; 11-23-2006 at 01:10 PM.
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Old 11-22-2006, 02:48 PM   #275
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"Chaar-rge!"

Hadith had seen the horse stop just before the tunnel. Then there was a gust of wind again and he could only see a vague form of someone flying over the horse and then disappearing from sight. Then the enemy was there, just a good thirty yards ahead of them. The first horses fell into the tunnel they had digged and their riders were thrown from their saddles.

"Grraaaah!"

It was Joshwan. He was already a couple of yards ahead of the others, building up rage within him with his bellowing. Hadith remembered what he had said before they had taken their positions. "Enrage yourselves if you can, you'll feel more powerful... and might forget the fear". Joshwan had smiled wryly after that, Hadith remembered his expression.

From the corner of his eye Hadith thought he recognised the form of Erlech running forwards on his right too. They were all jumping forwards. He had to force his legs to move. They were not willing to obey. Then he shouted with all that his lungs could afford.

"Iaaaiiiyy!"

He was so late to get up that Khamir almost run on him from behind. "Run Hadith, run!" he yelled at Hadith. And he ran. He ran against the wind that seemed to do everything to prevent him from advancing. But now he had to run. They were all running towards the enemy. And now they all yelled as loud as they could to keep the fear aside.

Hadith saw Joshwan jumping over the tunnel, landing his spear down to the tunnel as he went over it, kind of using it as a pole. But there was something wrong. He used it tip down. Hadith did see that. What? He got the answer immmediately. There was a harsh wail of a man that came to his ears from the tunnel, aided by the wind. Hadith saw how Joshwan had to twist the spear a couple of times to and fro before he got it released. Then he disappeared into the swirling dust.

"Watch out Hadith!" Beloan cried and passed him in great haste. Hadith only saw something like a shadow passing him and the swing of the naked blade. Only then he realised that there was a slaver on the ground just a yard or two to his left, trying to rise up and grasping for his blade. Beloan's shape came between him and the slaver. The sound of a blade cutting flesh from that distance made Hadith feel sick. He was sure he would throw up at any second. There was no yell from the slaver, just a dim rattle of death that he barely heard. Somehow it made it feel even more terrifying.

There were sounds of swords clinging to each other on his right. Hadith saw the bearded slave fighting with a slaver who had been dropped from his saddle over the tunnel. Fewerth was joining in to help him. Khamir ran past him and went forwards to jump the ditch. "Hadith! Check the tunnel!" Beloan called him against the wind and also went over, disappearing from his sight as well.

So, I’m no soldier... they all go and they all fight and I’m just slowing down, unable to do anything. Hadith turned to see was there anyone behind him just to see that all the others had slowed down too, looking just as unsure and frightened as he was. Now Hadith! Show yourself to be worthy of the trust Beloan and Khamir have laid on you!

“Freeedoom!”

Hadith turned to a slight angle towards the tunnel to gain an extra yard’s speed and ran for it. He swang his blade in the air and heard the others, at least some of them, following him. “Check the tunnels!” He shouted.

In front of him there was just dust and the frightening sounds of the battle. And into that horrifying unknown of the fight he jumped.

His jump carried him over the trench. After regaining his balance he managed to get a glimpse of a woman being forcefully dragged away by a man to his right. Athwen!, he knew her name. Hadith gathered all his courage and run towards them yelling as he went: “Leave her!”

As the slaver turned to see Hadith running towards them with a blade he hit Athwen forcefully to her face with the back of his hand. She fell to the ground. Hadith saw all this and also how the slaver turned towards him, a long sword in his hand ready to swing. “Come on you little one! Daddy won’t do you more harm than any loving dad would!” the Slaver grinned with the words as Hadith made the distance between them.

Last edited by Nogrod; 11-22-2006 at 04:05 PM.
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Old 11-23-2006, 07:35 AM   #276
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Carl

The sand crackled between his teeth as Carl clenched them, tensely shifting his jaw from side to side as he waited. Lowering his bow, he caught the green kerchief covering his nose and mouth and pulled it down, spitting into the sand at his side to gauge the wind. All of those who clutched bows were now poised, alert and frozen as they waited for the attackers to come into view. And with this changing wind they had to be doubly sure of their mark, there were too few arrows to waste, and as Lindir had told them, both Athwen and Dorran might be among those to reach the trench.

All thought of showering rocks upon the enemy as they climbed out of the tunnel, had quickly been put aside. And Lindir had impressed upon them all the importance of not only indentifying just who they were targeting, but also those surrounding them. It made a good deal of sense with this wind whipping about. Shooting long distance was simply too dangerous. But still having to wait while two-dozen armed horsemen came barreling toward them was not easy. Carl could only shoot so fast, and once his arrows were done, he might be done for as well. With no time to even find a hole to hide in.

The hobbit raised his bow again as he faintly heard the rumble of approaching horses in the wind. Aye, he couldn’t think like that. He had to keep an eye out and a few spare arrows for Hamin, the fellow who he had struggled with in the pit. In truth, he was quite anxious that he find the slaver before Hamin could discover where Kwell and Azhar were hidden. He held himself quite responsible for Hamin’s ill temper toward the two children, and even if that where not the case, just knowing what sort he was, made the hobbit that much more eager to confound the slaver's revenge.

Through squinted eyes and stinging wind, Carl looked over at Lindir. The elf was stationed with the other half of the bowmen to the right of Beloan’s men. Lindir’s body turned, as he looked down the length of an arrow, piercing the veil of dust with his keen eyes, searching for the riders in the storm. “There are too few of them here,” he shouted over the roaring wind. “Only a portion has taken our bait.” And Carl watched as Lindir’s group stood down, the elf running easily behind the lines to were the hobbit and a scant handful of other bowmen were positioned to the left of Beloan’s men.

“Carl,” he said in the hearing of all, as he drew up. “As an archer of the Shire I trust you to direct the bowmen around you, while I gather the rear guard quickly. Once the group of riders that is descending on us has gotten past the trench, and its numbers have been sufficiently depleted, let Beloan’s men finish dealing with them. You and your fellows are to fall back, for I believe you will be sorely needed elsewhere in the camp.”

Carl nodded his understanding, as Lindir glanced quickly across the murky plain before departing. The hobbit looked up just in time to see the first wave of horses that jumped the trench, coming into view. Just as their hooves found the earth, it gave way beneath them, and the riders were hurled, slamming against the exposed side of the collapsing tunnel. Carl winced as he saw the first horse somersault into the deep gouge, that was rapidly lengthening. But giving a loud shout he and his men loosed their arrows on the slavers that had fallen in the left side of the tunnel, and were struggling to climb out of the pit. They looked fierce, with eyes smoldering and sand clinging to great scratches and welts, and the hobbit wondered what else had befallen them on their way. Two of his group ran closer to the edge, shooting the at the rider’s below them.

Looking along the length of the tunnel, Carl saw some of Beloan’s group rush forward to jump into it, and fight the young slavers there. None of those he saw resembled Hamin’s bulk and he could recognize neither Athwen nor Dorran in the brown haze that enveloped everyone. But worrying that Hamin might enter the camp elsewhere or that Athwen had ridden off to the side at the last moment, perhaps still under pursuit, Carl shouted loudly over the din. Garnering no response from his archers, he put his fingers to his mouth emitting an ear-piercing whistle at which the archers fell back, and the small group quickly disappeared into the camp.

Last edited by Hilde Bracegirdle; 11-24-2006 at 09:21 PM.
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Old 11-23-2006, 01:01 PM   #277
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Gwerr (and Ishkur)

Gwerr had been not been too succesful with his findings. The only thing he considered worth plundering was the slaver leader’s bear pelt he found from the bed. It could keep him warm, come winter and the cold days. But he recognised the jingling noise of the coins immediately as Ishkur shook the chest ha had found. Gwerr turned to look at him and grinned approvingly. Then he went on with his search with increased fervour as in the end there seemed to be something worth finding around.

The next thing he came aware of outside his own search was the voice of an axe hitting something solid and the following sound of splintering wood. He turned to see Ishkur exalted with the treasure that now had spread over the floormat.

"Well, my friend! We may not agree on everything but we can surely agree on this. We'll be doing these slavers a favor if we empty out their chest........ Now all we have to do is figure out a way to bring these coins with us but keep them hidden. I wouldn't mind sharing a coin or two with a few of the girls, but I sure wouldn't want our friend Makdush to get any idea about this." Ishkur took several swigs of ale and asked. "Alright Gwerr, any ideas?"

“Oh you moron you! That chest might have done just fine but you had to go and break it, now did you?” Gwerr grinned to Ishkur, but couldn’t hide his satiscfaction with the find. “Don’t tell me you hadn’t the faintest what that chest held in it – and you were just forced to break it to find it out?”, he queried Ishkur, flashing now a cunning but open smile.

“C’mon Gwerr, don’t start again!” Ishkur bursted back to him. “How would you have carried this chest unnoticed by the Uruks? Now tell me!”, he complained and took to his flagon. Gwerr came over to sit by Ishkur and opened his own skin, taking a considerable draught from it. After he had wiped his chin and cheast from all the dripping ale he finally turned to meet his mate. He smiled now.

“I just couldn’t resist it you old bore”. With that he tugged Ishkur between the ribs companionly but hard enough as the orcs had a habit of doing when they were pleased. “Ahh, that’s a pile of valuable things down there comrade” Gwerr said with a half-voice, nodding to the carpet where the coins were among the splintered chest. “ But yes, how to carry them unnoticed... hmmm.” Gwerr straightened his back and started looking around the tent to find something that could give him an idea. Suddenly he fixed his eyes towards the corner of the tent.

“What is it now, Gwerr. Wha'ss up? There is something?” Ishkur asked his mate. Gwerr didn’t answer but rose up hastily and ran for the corner of the tent where there was a rack of slaver captain’s clothes hanging. “This man must love scarfs... and that suits us just fine, pluming on one’s looks really bites one back I say... Ohh, the vain git has made us a favour now.” Gwerr talked as he ripped several scarfs off the rack and returned to Ishkur and the treasure.

“Okay, you master of the maggots. Look and listen. This is what we do.” With that Gwerr kneeled down to reach the stack of coins. He spreaded one of the scarfs open beside the pile and then took two plenty handfuls of the coins, laying them carefully into a heap into the middle of the scarf. After that he collected the four corners of the scarf into his left hand and lifted the bunch in the air. He made a few swings with it over his head like he was using a sling.

“You see this now, light-brained friend of mine?” Gwerr smiled openly, which was rare among the orcs. Then he stopped the scarf-bag in mid air, gave it a twist with his fingers to sned it rolling around, and as it had strained enough, he stopped it and made a tight knot just above the point where the coins were.

“So you see, no jingling any more” Gwerr said and dropped the pouch from the level of his chest. It gave a dull thump and just a faint tinkle as it landed to the carpet.

“Now this kind of bags we can hide in many places. Wrap them in your spare clothes or stuck them into your spare boots – if you have ones. Wrap them into a gold-embroided negligee there and stuck it to your horses saddlebag. Anyone seeing it will think you were going to sell that cloth with a fair price somewhere... or thought you were getting soft! Both ways are fine, aren’t they?” Now Gwerr was laughing, laughing openly. It was not totally evil laughter but something nearing joy. His eyes smiled to Ishkur as he rose up and received a sudden punch to the chest from his mate. Gwerr rolled back to the ground but his laughter only grew louder.

“You know my friend... we’re not only free, we’re rich too!”
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Old 11-24-2006, 03:44 AM   #278
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At the last minute, Dorran had slipped behind the other slavers wearing the plain garb of a traveller, his hood pulled low over his eyes. He'd had to leave his own horse behind and use the one that Rôg had ridden, since it looked far more commonplace than his own mount and allowed him to ride undetected. A hundred times that evening he'd asked himself why he had ever agreed to let his wife do such a dangerous thing. But part of him already knew the answer to that question. They had always worked as a team, each respecting the other. He did not want to change that now when it counted the most.

As Athwen thundered forward across the plain and caught the attention of Imak, Dorran's eyes never left his wife, intent on seeing that she was alright. At the last minute Dorran had jeked at his horse's reins and forced his mount to go forward with the group of younger riders who had disobeyed Imak and pounded on behind the fleeing woman. Unlike the other riders in the band, he knew exactly where the tunnel was and the point where it would be safe to cross over to the other side. He thought of pushing forward at breakneck speed to try and come abreast of his wife's horse. But that would be foolish. It was not only important that he escape detection, but Athwen needed space so that she would be free to maneuver the steed and wouldn't have to worry about running into anyone else. With great reluctance, Dorran pulled back on the reins at the very last instant so the others surged by him. Let them go by. He was more of a rider than any of them and would be able to catch up very quickly if his wife encountered any problems.

Things had turned bad very quickly. To his horror, Dorran saw that Athwen had fallen from her horse. One of the attackers had put his hands on her and was preparing to drag her off. Filled with rage and dread, the young rider of Rohan spurred his horse forward , came galloping on, and attempted to leap over the trench in order to reach the brute who was carrying off his wife. But Dorran had forgotten just one thing. He was not riding his own usual horse who would have been able to clear the tunnel in a single leap. Instead, he was mounted on a placid and nondescript animal that had been given to Rôg whose skills as a horseman were minimal. With all his heart and will, Dorran tried to maneuver the animal across the trench half jumping and half scrambling. But his efforts were to no avail. The animal was not used to the sounds and smell of war, and gave a loud whinny, his eyes wild with fears and his ears pinned back flat against his head. One more lurch and they'd both fallen to the ground. His horse's hind legs were scrambling for support as the dirt gave way underneath them.

Dorran freed himself from the saddle and, clawing at the dirt, began to drag his body out of the pit where so many others lay kicking and screaming. Pushing back the dirt that threatened to engulf him and throwing aside the rotted beams that collapsed in his path, he struggled to find a footing. Then he lunged forward and managed to scramble to his feet calling out to his wife, "I'm here. I'm coming." Already, other fighters had scrambled in and were beginning to battle their way through to where his wife was held. Dorran drew his sword and gave a fierce cry, half of madness and half of hope, as he ran forward across the field, oblivious to any dangers.

Last edited by Tevildo; 11-30-2006 at 01:14 AM.
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Old 11-24-2006, 08:37 PM   #279
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Athwen

Struggling seemed absolutely futile. His grip was too strong for her to even hope to break, although she struggled and twisted in every possible direction. Where was Dorran? Why wasn't he here? And why was this brute so intent on getting her? Why didn't he go and fight like he was supposed to? She expected any moment to see him draw a blade to wound and disable her with, but he never did. He only fetched a rope out of his saddle bag. 'He probably wishes I wouldn't squirm so much,' she thought bitterly to herself as she jerked one hand free to keep away from the loop of rope. She gasped in pain as his hand on her other wrist tightened with anger.

A man's voice called suddenly from behind them, from the trench. "Leave her!" Athwen twisted to look, expecting to see Dorran. Her expectations were shattered, but not too violently, for she half recognized the face of the young man who came running forward. Her mouth opened to call to him, but no sound came. Before she could speak or cry out a stunning blow from the man holding her stretched her to her full length on the ground. Her ears rang with the shock of the blow and in the few seconds that she lay still, she felt the whole left side of her face grow hot with pain. She gasped once or twice and her eyes watered, but she still struggled to get back to her feet.

A few paces away from her, she saw the young man - he was scarcely out of boyhood - and the slaver. They were not yet fighting. They circled, testing each other's weaknesses. Or perhaps it was only the older slaver who was testing the boy's weaknesses; Hadith almost looked like he was retreating. Athwen could not quite see clearly, nor could she make out the expression on his face. In addition to the sand blowing about in the air, her head spun with dizziness and she could hardly stand straight.

Before the two of them had crossed swords, another voice called out from the wind and blowing sand. "I'm here. I'm coming!" She knew this voice for certain. She knew who came. She lifted her head. Her eyes cleared of spinning lights and she saw Dorran's figure drawing closer. And then the cold sound of steel against steel filled her ears. The slaver had begun his onslaught against Hadith.
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Old 11-24-2006, 10:00 PM   #280
Folwren
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Folwren is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.Folwren is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.
Kwell

Kwell dropped low to the ground, the wind whistling about him until he could hardly hear or see. His teeth clenched close together and his dry lips pursed to keep the sand and flying dirt out. He ran forward towards the front lines, knowing that eventually he would stumble into someone or some sort of excitement.

He did stumble into what he was expecting, before he expected it. He saw a group of people approaching him as quickly as they could in the wind. His feet stopped abruptly and he looked hard to see if he could make out who it was who approached him. Were they enemies, or friends? Then from his right he heard the sound of approaching hoofbeats. He straightened up abruptly, his eyes staring hard and his mouth opening. He had thought they were supposed to come from straight on. . .come in straight into the camp to fall into the tunnel and trench that they had spent so much time digging. Had they not? Had they simply ridden around it? How had they known that it was there in order that they might avoid it?

The thoughts spun through his head like a grass fire. They were gone in an instant, for he suddenly realized that he stood right in the awy of danger. The pounding drew nearer, the great, dark shapes came closer and he could make out each of the riders. In another moment, he saw their faces.

He had forgotten the first group of men he had seen. They were running forward now, towards the riders, and closer to him. Kwell found himself rooted to the ground, unable to move. He watched in alarm as the riders came rushing forward, and those on foot came running on. And then a horse missed his stride, stumbled, and fell. The rider summersaulted over his horse's head and went skittering across the rocky earth. Kwell gasped and drew back, for the man stopped his tumble very near him. As the boy withdrew, his hand brushed against the hard handle of the dagger at his side. His hand paused for a moment and then his fingers grasped the handle. He stopped to consider a moment and then he drew it in one, sharp movement. His jaw clenched and his face twisted into some horrible, dark expression and he leaped forward with a cry.

When he first plunged the dagger into the man's body, he had not thought of it as actually killing a man. He had not considered him as a person. The face was turned away from him, he could not see his eyes, nor read his expression. But Kwell knew nothing of killing, nor how to use a weapon. The blow that he gave had every advantage of surprise, and the man was still dazed from his fall. The stroke proved useless, however, for he struck at his side and the blade turned on a rib and ran virtually harmlessly down his side.

The man jerked violently and shouted out in pain. He twisted about and Kwell leaped back in alarm. The slaver slowly sat up on his knees and for a moment Kwell looked directly into his face. He recognized the man as one of the guards who had watched over his prison in the pit the previous day and nights.

"Why you little beast! I knew when I first set eyes on you that I should have wrung your little, theiving neck!"

Kwell looked shocked and startled. Evidently the man recognized him, too. In the blink of an eye the slaver had large, curved blade drawn in his hand. Kwell blinked and looked down at the knife in his hand. With hardly an additional thought, he turned and fled, running as hard as he could with the wind towards the group that he had seen advancing earlier. He hoped against hope that there, with others to help him, he might have a slight chance of surviving. And if not. . .well, perhaps he would die helping someone else, instead of being uselessly slaughtered by himself.

Last edited by Folwren; 11-25-2006 at 09:03 PM.
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