The Barrow-Downs Discussion Forum


Visit The *EVEN NEWER* Barrow-Downs Photo Page

Go Back   The Barrow-Downs Discussion Forum > Roleplaying > Elvenhome
User Name
Password
Register FAQ Members List Calendar Search Today's Posts Mark Forums Read


 
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 07-29-2006, 10:06 PM   #121
Regin Hardhammer
Shade of Carn Dûm
 
Regin Hardhammer's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: Tumunzahar/Nogrod
Posts: 364
Regin Hardhammer has just left Hobbiton.
Ishkur and Gwerr

Ishkur stomped angrily toward Gwerr, who continued to rant and rave about the dangers of remaining near the slave camp. Ishkur simply could not control himself anymore and was determined to force his crazed comrade to stop his shouting and return to sanity. Ever since the orcs had arrived at the camp, Ishkur noticed that Gwerr had avoided him. On the rare occasions when the two made eye contact, Ishkur thought he saw a flame of jealously and contempt in the other’s stare. Gwerr was obviously very annoyed at him for something, and now Ishkur would find out out why. Plus all this shouting gave Ishkur a pounding headache at a time when he desperately wanted to fall asleep. For all of Gwerr’s contention that there was still enough darkness for them to flee this place, the morning had already come.

When Ishkur first approached, Gwerr didn't seem to notice him and continued giving his lecture to the group as if nothing had happened. Ishkur waited a few seconds for Gwerr to say something and, when he grew tired of standing there, slapped the other orc stiffly in the right shoulder to get his attention. Ishkur could see no reason why he shouldn’t get straight to the point.

After an annoyed snarl and mashing of his yellowing teeth, Gwerr turned and yelled at full volume, “What do you want?”

Ishkur stared coldly at Gwerr, considering whether to reward such a rude response with another swift punch, this time straight to his stomach. Then he growled at Gwerr, “Stop your belly-aching. Listen, we must not leave camp yet. The sun is up and we would not get far. The group doesn’t yet have enough supplies. When will we next be able to score fresh meals so easily? So quit whining, shut your mouth, and keep your opinions to yourself.”

Gwerr, who before had been extremely agitated, now looked as if he wanted to kill Ishkur. The two had known each other many years, and both had an extremely large and fragile pride. Pride was an orc’s most prized possession and he would kill to protect it. This time, Gwerr seemed truly to have had enough,

“Ishkur, I swear that I will not follow behind your shadow any longer. Your head has grown large and vacant with all of your great ideas. Maybe you've decided to serve the Uruk scum and forget your true orc brothers. You don’t care about the group at all. You just want to be leader. We must leave now,” bellowing the last sentence with such force that Ishkur recoiled in shock.

When Ishkur spoke again, he tried to sound less belligerent , “Listen, my friend, I hate the Uruks just like you. I saw Makdush parading his stolen sword around for everyone to feel jealous, bragging about it. And you, Gwerr, are worth a thousand Uruks! I know that!" Ishkur pounded his fist against his chain link coat to stress his point.

"But, as much as I hate that blowhard Makdush and his pals, my desire for a place of my own is even greater. I want to live in a land without bosses, where we answer only to ourselves. I want to be free to hunt and knock a few heads without always doing what someone else commands. Wehave no choice. To survive on this journey, we must work with the Uruks, all stay together, and see things through till the end. And you are right that the time draws near for us to leave, but not yet. Let us stay one more night and steal lots of food and then leave. We will be even more careful than before. Once we have all the supplies we need, we’ll be on our way.”

Gwerr grunted in response. Though still grim in visage, his anger had softened. Part of him was beginning to suspect that Ishkur might be right about needing to put up with the Uruks for a little while, but personally he couldn’t bring himself to do it. His personal hatred of them was just too intense. The orcs would stay another night and Gwerr would keep his complaints to himself, but he wouldn’t feel at ease until they were far away.

Ishkur turned and yelled at the other orcs. "Alright, we stay here another night. And we make one last raid after night falls. Now go find a hiding place for the day and meet here again when the first star comes out."

Last edited by Regin Hardhammer; 07-31-2006 at 11:06 PM.
Regin Hardhammer is offline  
Old 07-30-2006, 11:28 AM   #122
Firefoot
Illusionary Holbytla
 
Firefoot's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 7,646
Firefoot has been trapped in the Barrow!
Grask

Before the merest hint of gray light could shine from the eastern horizon, Grask had left the mannish camp. He had already spent far too much time there, even braving a second coming. None had seen him save the female man-child beneath the grate; the men’s searches had been far more concentrated on the other side of their camp where the horses were tied, and the tangled tussocks growing not far from the camp had proved an adequate hiding place until his curiosity had drawn him to the grate itself: a foolish move, perhaps, but the guard had not noticed.

It was while stationed at the grate that he had heard their voices: oddly clear and unpleasant, but nevertheless intelligible. They had seemed to be arguing, but over strange topics that Grask was sure he could not have understood correctly. In fact, some of their words were bandied about so casually - rescue and help, for example - that Grask was wondering if they had a different meaning among men, for they were scarce heard among Orcs.

But soon after, they had fallen asleep, and Grask, leery once more of the danger, had returned to the Orc camp, where he found the feasting on raw donkey meat in full swing. He did not know if it would be permitted for him to have some, but he took a small but meaty bone for his own enjoyment anyway. He doubted anyone would fight him for it – or, more likely, just take it - even if they did take note of him. But as he happily tore into the raw meat and felt drops of blood trickle down his chin, he realized that the two men-children were not even free to scavenge for their own food. Everything he knew said to let them fend for themselves, but nothing he knew involved the tying up of young ones. They might be beaten – Grask had been cuffed over the head a few times himself – or even killed if they caused the wrath of the older Orcs, but typically they were just ignored, and never locked up. Grask did not understand it.

Without knowing why he did it, he had quietly taken two more bones of meat and crept away back to the mannish camp. Remembering how all the stores he had found in their wagons had been wrapped, Grask had imitated this practice and wrapped the meat in leafy plants that smelled repulsively fresh. This stay in the man camp was considerably shorter; he had only dropped the packages through the grate and lingering only briefly to marvel again at the oddness of human appearance, particularly the uniformity of color and texture in their skin compared to his own thick mottled hide. But he had left quickly, knowing dawn was approaching and that he would not want to be caught here.
Firefoot is offline  
Old 08-01-2006, 01:36 AM   #123
Undómë
Shade of Carn Dûm
 
Undómë's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 400
Undómë has just left Hobbiton.
Mazhg motioned for her sister and Ungolt to be quiet. Two of the males were talking at each other. Ishkur, the one who had shared meat, and the one called Gwerr. They were fighting. “Uruks” seemed at the heart of it.

Of all those in their band, Mazhg hated the Uruks most of all. She had tried to keep herself and Zagra well out of their sight as the group moved along. Not that she feared them. It was just that she did not wish to have to fight one. She rubbed her upper arms, her fingers running over the thick scars from a previous encounter with an overbearing Uruk.

‘What do they say?’ Zagra whispered creeping close, her arm twining through her sister’s. Mazhg lifted her chin, her lips pursing them out toward Ishkur.

‘That one makes a few points against the other,’ Mazhg whispered back, flicking her eyes toward Gwerr. ‘He says we need to get more food to carry us further. And until we are safely to the place we will live we need to put up with the Uruk-hai.’ She snorted, stifling a laugh. ‘Perhaps, just before we get to where we’re bound, the Uruk’s can give their bagronk hides to some attacker, saving us the nasty business of having to do them in.’

‘That Gwerr is whining at Ishkur. Says he’s got a big head; says he serves the Uruk scum – just so he can be leader. Says he doesn’t care about us Orcs at all…’

Zagra scowled, looking hard at Gwerr. ‘That Ishkur gave us meat. Gwerr didn’t, did he? Ishkur’s a good leader.’ Mazhg nodded noncommittally. He’ll do for now… she thought to herself.

Ungolt, by now, had also crept close and leaned against Zagra. Mazhg noted how tired both of them looked. ‘Let’s find some shade and get some rest,’ Mazhg said, getting up. She grinned at Ungolt as they walked toward an overhanging rock Zagra had spied out. ‘Tonight you can help us relieve the slaver men of more of their food and their pretties.’

Last edited by Undómë; 08-04-2006 at 02:27 AM.
Undómë is offline  
Old 08-02-2006, 12:00 PM   #124
Durelin
Estelo dagnir, Melo ring
 
Durelin's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2002
Posts: 3,121
Durelin is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.Durelin is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.
Khamir

Khamir wasn’t sure who surprised him more at this point: Hadith or Joshwan. He had looked at Hadith for the longest time and saw such a boy, still a child. But he held that blade in his hand with such confidence, so steady, and whether or not he was really prepared to kill anyone, Khamir could tell the young man could do it if he had to. But only if he had to. He was a smart young man, with a good heart. The one-armed man spared a moment to wonder how such a man could have grown up as a slave, in a world of violence, thievery, backstabbing, torture, and oppression. Hadith, who Khamir had called ‘boy’ since he met him, had not allowed the world around him, the kind of life he had been forced to live to shape him. Khamir had failed.

He might as well be like Fewerth, Joshwan, and Guilledean, thieves and backstabbers, dishonest men who took advantage of people and situations even at the expense of others. Like most of those in Mordor, their actions were based almost entirely on survival. How often did they even think about what they wanted to do? Did they actually have fun taking advantage of people, or did they simply deem it necessary? Khamir was fairly certain of the latter. The real question, though, for all Mordorians, was who they were trying to keep alive. With these three, it was obvious: they cared about only themselves.

Still, a man who vigorously defended his life wasn’t necessarily a danger to others. Perhaps he could even be of help.

Staring down at the two blades at his feet, Khamir sheathed the two in his hand, and reached down to pick up the Easterling blade. It was of beautiful craftsmanship. Khamir recalled ceremonial knives his father had owned, and he would always believe those rivaled the beauty of any weapons, but this still held its own. As he stared at it, though, and watch the sun glint off the metal, he could feel it as if it was lodged in his side. This was where the money was in Mordor, all the resources – with men like these bounty hunter pigs, men with hearts as black as Melkor’s.

Where had all that hope gone? Khamir searched for that feeling he had on that day he wrote the letter, and even more so on the day he received a message back. He almost felt prepared to believe in Gondor at that moment, though he had been more inclined to simply believe in this ‘Elessar’ than the entirety of what Gondor was and stood for. But now it seemed he was back in the same rut of survival and a hope for more, never reaching whatever that ‘more’ was.

At least he knew there were good men left in this world, even in what was still the darkest part of it.

“Hadith, give Joshwan your knife.”

The younger man looked at Khamir, his eyes suddenly wider than before, and he seemed frozen for a moment. Khamir did not blame him. Giving a weapon to an enemy…no, not an enemy. It was difficult to shake such feelings off. The one-armed man was not used to extending trust to anyone. They had to extend it to him, first, and show him somehow that they could be trusted. But, Hadith had done this, and he had failed to see it until now. This trust issue was too abstract, too fleeting – was it even a matter of trust?

Perhaps what Hadith did, was, because, after a little assertion, the young man did as the older one told. Joshwan was frozen in his place, too, glancing from Hadith to the knife to Khamir: mostly eyeing Khamir and the knife.

“You were the only man here who showed bravery other than Hadith. Use that knife well, even if only to protect yourself. And remember that I still have three knives to your one.”

Khamir extended his arm, holding out the Easterling knife, letting it rest in the palm of his hand, balancing the weight of it. “Hadith, this is yours,” he said to the boy without waiting for any kind of response from Joshwan or his friends. “He was your kill – his blade is yours now. You’ll never forget the first man you killed, anyway.”

Looking at the genuine happiness and triumph in the young man’s eyes as he took the blade that the one-armed man offered to him, it was clear that in some ways Hadith still was a boy, young, hopeful, and at least a little naïve. Khamir wondered how long Mordor would allow him to retain such a look and feeling of youth.

Picking up the last knife, he found Eirnar, and held it out to him. “Protect Aedhild with this, at least. She does not need any more pain to come to her.” Eirnar accepted it hesitantly, eyeing Khamir, perhaps wondering who this man really was. The problem was, at this point, Khamir himself did not know at all.

“The sun is fast arriving,” he called out to everyone, or at least those near him, “We’d best get rest tonight, and lay low tomorrow. We have the wounded to take care of, and we must stay together. They will not kill the children; we have time.”

Though very little…
Durelin is offline  
Old 08-03-2006, 02:06 AM   #125
Tevildo
Shade of Carn Dûm
 
Tevildo's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: Curled up on Melko's lap
Posts: 425
Tevildo has just left Hobbiton.
Dorran:

Dorran had spent the past two hours helping set up camp and tending to the needs of the horses. He'd fed and groomed each of them, making sure to take the knots out of their manes and tails and to examine their hooves in case they had picked up any rocks or thrown a shoe on the recent journey across the Ash Plain. Even after doing all that, Vror and Carl had still not returned. Dorran paced about the camp while privately berating himself for not having been the first to volunteer.

It wasn't that he doubted the abilities of a hobbit or dwarf. It was just that the two of them, however clever and dedicated, seemed so very, so very.....small, especially when compared with the harsh realities of life in Mordor. He did not want to dishonor his companions and would never have said anything derogatory to their faces. Part of his worry reflected a genuine fear that something might have happened to one or both of them.

Although Dorran would not have liked to admit this, some of these reservations also stemmed from the fact that he was a Man in an age increasingly dominated by men. His attitude was a common one, born of Man's ignorance and pride. All his life, he'd fought and worked with the stouthearted men of Rohan and Gondor. They were very real to him. With the other races, it was different. They seemed more like shadows of ancient legend than real people who could help shape the future fate of Arda. At least in terms of dwarves, he did know of ballads that spoke of their valiant efforts in battle, but hobbits were an utter blank, almost a childhood fancy.

For the tenth time that morning, Dorran chastised himself for not speaking up more quickly. He knew the ways of slaves and slavers and perhaps even of orcs better than anyone in the party. It seemed to make more sense if he had been the one sent out across the plain to spy on the camp and discover the whereabouts of the children.

Noticing that the others had stopped to take a short rest from their labors, Dorran wandered over to where Athwen, Aiwendil, and Rog were resting in the company of the Elf Lindir. Staring northward in frustration, he shook his head, and, speaking to no one in particular, voiced his concern. "It's been long....too long. Do you think they are alright? Should someone go out and see what has happened?"

Last edited by Tevildo; 08-03-2006 at 03:07 AM.
Tevildo is offline  
Old 08-03-2006, 03:35 PM   #126
Folwren
Messenger of Hope
 
Folwren's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Location: In a tiny, insignificant little town in one of the many States.
Posts: 5,228
Folwren is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.Folwren is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.
Athwen looked up at Dorran. Her conscience pricked her. He had not been around for the last hour and she had not noticed - leaving all the work with the horses to him without even offering to help. Besides that, it was clear on his face that he had spent that time worrying about something and she hadn’t even noticed.

“Do you think they are alright? Should someone go out and see what has happened?”

Athwen knew Dorran well enough that he wouldn’t throw around empty and useless suggestions. At least, he wouldn’t think them useless or empty. He was clearly worried and wanted to do something about it. She stood up quickly.

“You and I can go, Dorran,” she said, coming towards him. “Surely it wouldn’t do much harm,” she added, turning towards Aiwendil and Lindir.
Folwren is offline  
Old 08-04-2006, 09:57 AM   #127
Novnarwen
Ghost Prince of Cardolan
 
Novnarwen's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
Location: In your mouth... Eeeew, by the way. :P
Posts: 517
Novnarwen has just left Hobbiton.
Send a message via AIM to Novnarwen Send a message via Yahoo to Novnarwen
Eirnar

He didn’t need a knife to protect Aedhild. He had a club, crafted with his own hands. “Protect Aedhild at least,” he mimicked silently to himself as soon as Khamir was out of sight. Though he didn’t mind taking care of Aedhild, as nobody else seemed up for the task, he didn’t like the idea of being seen as her personal protector, or her nurse for that matter. She was an unusual woman, yes, and he did seem to understand her better than most, but did that automatically leave him with the sole responsibility for her? It was not his fault that she was incapable of taking responsibility for herself; selfish as this sounded, he reproached himself for the direction of his thoughts. He should not, he could not forget that he had been blessed, he was alive and well after years for torture, and acknowledging this to himself, he realised that protecting Aedhild should be but a small task, and he should do it both willingly and dutifully.

**

Aedhild was already asleep when he settled down. Although he had done everything in his power to forget about today’s encounters and intrigues, he couldn’t quite let it go. He had been so fierce in his critique of Khamir, his actions, and yet, at the end of the day, Khamir had still offered him a knife. Eirnar had narrowed his eyes and reacted with disbelief and scepticism. Was it really Aedhild he needed to protect, or was it himself? Was this just part of the game the Southron was playing? Whichever game he was playing, he was sure good at it. Finally, he had to conclude that he could not know what was in the Southron’s mind.

For some time now, he had been suspicions of Khamir. Though careful to not give away too much of his thoughts in case his suspicions had truth in them, he could not help thinking of having been too prominent in his critique. It hadn’t brought any good, and Eirnar had to admit that today’s events did nothing but confuse him further. Had Khamir been sincere? Had he intended the knife for him to protect Aedhild, who supposedly was unable herself? Smiling, he remembered when the woman had charged at him for no apparent reason. She herself didn’t seem to remember anything of the sorts, and Eirnar felt no particularly urge to tell her either. No, she was capable to protect herself; at times she was as aggressive and threatening as the slave-guards at the plantations.

If it wasn’t for Aedhild’s protection, was it for his own? After having openly confronted him with his complaints, maybe the ex-slave had viewed it as a challenge. Perhaps he regarded him as a threat. Perhaps Khamir was getting cold feet; if the slaves started doubting his abilities as a leader, started doubting his intentions, started doubting him, his plan, whatever it was, would without a doubt fail! A slight shiver ran through him as he realised that if this was the case, then he would be a target; he would be someone Khamir would sneak up on at night, and with a slit throat, he would be taken away before the others would rise. Who know? Maybe the kidnapping of the children had been planned. It suddenly hit him that it was a trap. It became so painfully obvious that he had difficulties believing it. Had Khamir resisted going after them so quickly to purposely allow more attacks? Did he want to delay a pursuit until whoever it was he was in league with were ready for them?

Taking a hold of the knife, which he had hung in his belt, Eirnar examined at it carefully as if it would help him come to a conclusion of what he ought to do. If he abandoned the group, he was on his own, and he wasn’t sure whether it was a good thing or not. Not yet. The danger of staying seemed greater at this point though; the tension in the camp was palpable, and who knew what happened tomorrow… he would take his chances, but not a moment longer than he had to.

Last edited by Novnarwen; 08-04-2006 at 02:58 PM.
Novnarwen is offline  
Old 08-04-2006, 05:25 PM   #128
Nogrod
Flame of the Ainulindalë
 
Nogrod's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Wearing rat's coat, crowskin, crossed staves in a field behaving as the wind behaves
Posts: 9,051
Nogrod has passed beneath the Argonath.Nogrod has passed beneath the Argonath.Nogrod has passed beneath the Argonath.Nogrod has passed beneath the Argonath.Nogrod has passed beneath the Argonath.Nogrod has passed beneath the Argonath.
Send a message via MSN to Nogrod
Hadith

In the end everything had happened just a bit too fast for Hadith to cope with. He had thanked and nodded to Khamir, taking his leave as Khamir had addressed Eirnar. As he withdrew from Khamir and others he realised that he was shaking all over. The excitement of the previous situation bounced back on him only now. He felt his heart beat twice the normal speed and his hands were trembling. But in those shaky hands of his there was the long knife, the beautiful blade and it’s sheath that the young Easterling had bore with him as he had fallen off from his mount. Hadith remembered just too vividly how the mutilated young man had looked like when he had turned him around after he had been beaten to death. With that memory he felt both anguished and insecure on top of all that had happened just a moment ago. The feeling of triumph was fading away fast.

He went to search for his packages from the general disorder, just to employ his mind on something else. But the thoughts and images kept flowing into his mind. And for the time being, he was finding nothing.

Suddenly there was the image of his father handing him an orange. It was soon blurred and replaced by an image of Khamir giving him the knife, not once or twice, but three times in succesion. And then there was something Hadith thought he had never quite recalled before: the image of his father bowing over him and whispering, “you’ll have to stand for the good.. never to bow to the wicked ways.” He had always related that sentence to his mother as it was something she had kept on telling him, but now it was also his father that was whispering the very same words into his ears inside.

His father had had a full beard that had covered most of his face, but more vividly than that Hadith remembered his gleaming eyes. There was something in Khamir that looked the same. Only now did Hadith actually pay heed to the colour of Khamir’s skin. It was the same his father had had. Hadith himself had somewhat lighter tone of colour on his skin but it could be easily traced back to that of his father, and that of Khamir. His mother had been so pale... Hadith tried all his strength to come up with the name of the place his mother had been from. Osglininnian? Oglithiar?... He couldn’t remember it, but it was in a part of the world that was called Gronror, or Gorondor, or something. He had heard those places mentioned once or twice but he couldn’t just come up with them.

Anyhow, Hadith had different facial features from his father, or Khamir, with high cheekbones and slim ears. That had something to do with his mother. But who had told him to stand up and fight for the good? It had been his mother. But was it his father too? Or was it himself? And what did Khamir had to do with all this? Why was he drawn to him so strongly? Just because there was something in Khamir that reminded him of his father? He had stood against three adult men in front of Khamir, because of something else than only his own pride, surely.

Hadith was baffled. He kept turning the blade in his hands as he walked aimlessly around the still confused camp of the refugees. He didn’t see his packages, but even if they had been in front of him, he wouldn’t have noticed them anyway. He was too immersed in his thoughts and doubts. Who was he? Who were all the people around him? Who were the Easterling slavers pursuing them?
Nogrod is offline  
Old 08-04-2006, 05:29 PM   #129
Nogrod
Flame of the Ainulindalë
 
Nogrod's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Wearing rat's coat, crowskin, crossed staves in a field behaving as the wind behaves
Posts: 9,051
Nogrod has passed beneath the Argonath.Nogrod has passed beneath the Argonath.Nogrod has passed beneath the Argonath.Nogrod has passed beneath the Argonath.Nogrod has passed beneath the Argonath.Nogrod has passed beneath the Argonath.
Send a message via MSN to Nogrod
Gwerr

On another occasion, Gwerr would have stood against Ishkur and stressed his plan, but this time Ishkur seemed to have got it right.The day was indeed dawning. He had misjudged the speed of that cursed bright ball that teared off the eyes of any decent orc. The first rays of the sun were already starting to turn the distant hills behind them from dark blueish-black to a tinge of light brownish-orange, soon to become bright red and yellow.

After Ishkur had called the others to find a shelter Gwerr grunted to him in a way orcs would find almost peaceful. “You too are worth a thousand Uruks! We’ve had a long road together Ishkur, you and I.” With that he pounded Ishkur to his chest, hard but in a somewhat friendly way by the orc standards. Gwerr looked at Ishkur straight into the eye. “I still fear those Easterlings hunting after us, especially because that rat-pack Makdush has clearly stolen something of worth with wich he boasts about. We risk too much if we have to fight them. You know it as well.” Gwerr studied Ishkur’s expression carefully and saw that he had managed to make him at least a bit troubled.

“We have no choice now Gwerr, you know that too”, Ishkur replied after a short pause, staring back at Gwerr intensively and then glancing on the brightening colour of the distant hills behind them. “We must work with the Uruks for the time being. Realise that and bury your anger from sight for awhile.”

Gwerr kicked a stone from his feet so furiously that it flew over the bushes covering them from the direction of the Easterling-camp. For a moment he was silent and just stared after the rock that had disappeared from sight. They both could hear it rolling down the slope behind the vegetation. Different thoughts and feelings were running rampant in Gwerr’s mind. They were tearing him apart.

Ishkur was about to leave when Gwerr at last managed to calm himself more fully and to speak out, still watching to the direction of the Easterling-camp. “If the Easterlings come at daylight, I surely would feel better to have some of those creepy Uruks to fight beside us”, he said cautiously, turning to face Ishkur and trying to grasp his response to that startling confession of his. “Today we need them”, Gwerr continued, “but I do swear, that I do my best not to get into this kind of situation another time.” He hissed quietly and spat to the ground.

For a moment those two comrades in arms stood silent, just looking at each other and trying to evaluate their positions in respect to one another. Slowly Gwerr raised his hand to touch Ishkur’s shoulder. He gripped it forcefully but not so aggressively than one might have thought.

“We must stick together Ishkur. And we must make sure Colagar, or the others, will not flip. We’ll get rid of those scrubby scroundels in due time”. With that he turned his head to catch the three Uruks still talking about something together in hushed voices some twenty yards from them. “You see how they are scheming their rotten plans”, Gwerr said now more quietly, nodding towards the Uruk-trio, “But you’re right, the time is not now.”
Nogrod is offline  
Old 08-05-2006, 07:37 PM   #130
Child of the 7th Age
Spirit of the Lonely Star
 
Child of the 7th Age's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Posts: 5,135
Child of the 7th Age is a guest of Tom Bombadil.
Aiwendil:

Aiwendil shook his head. The slightest hint of a smile slipped over his face as he turned to face the couple. "You young folk! Always in a hurry. Can't sit still for more than a minute. You're probably right, Athwen. There'd likely be no harm if we sent out another scout or two to check up on Carl and Vrór. Still, I can't help thinking that we are better off lying low and staying out of sight. Let's wait to ride out until we have the cover of darkness. Anyways, those two will get through. I'm sure of it, and then find their way back here long before evening comes."

Aiwendil glanced over at Dorran, almost as if he could read some of the thoughts that lay behind the man of Rohan's concern over whether or not the two smallest members of their party could possibly make it through in such difficult circumstances. The istar added in a gentle tone, "Not easy sitting and waiting. Not for a Rider who's used to going out and attacking problems head on.....especially since you've had to carry heavy memories of these lands for such a long time."

Lindir nodded his head in agreement, "If we hear nothing by the dinner hour, we'll ride out as a group. But I think Aiwendil is right. If anyone can get through, those two will." The Elf stared across the open plain in the direction of the slavers' camp.

Last edited by Child of the 7th Age; 08-07-2006 at 03:16 AM.
Child of the 7th Age is offline  
Old 08-05-2006, 07:47 PM   #131
Durelin
Estelo dagnir, Melo ring
 
Durelin's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2002
Posts: 3,121
Durelin is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.Durelin is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.
Vrór

His heart heavy in his chest, Vrór stared down at the rough grass beneath him, allowing sadness to pull him down. He was frozen for several moments under its weight, and Carl watched him briefly before shuffling over to the small opening in a black abyss. Vrór gave him more space, and the Hobbit put his ear up to the hole. The Dwarf now remained still by force of will, not wanting to disturb Carl with any movement or sound. After a few moments, the Hobbit pulled himself away from the opening, and disrupted the silence.

“It feels as if there are sounds just beyond what I can hear,” he whispered, “but no matter how hard I strain my hearing, I know I cannot reach them.”

Vrór shook his head and muttered gratingly, “Aye.”

“And to think it seems like such a short tunnel by the nature of the echoes…” Carl trailed off, as he met the Dwarf’s gaze. They realized simultaneously just what the Hobbit had said. A tunnel!

Each wished to burst out with some sound of rejoicing, but found themselves silenced by the presence nearby. The slavers’ camp was a noisy reminder of how close they were to capture and…death? Or would they be made slaves, as well? A fine catch, a Dwarf and a Hobbit; unique.

Vrór put his ear up to the opening once again, closing his eyes and focusing his mind on good, hard stone. The Dwarf had to hear for himself again what Carl was talking about, and he could only nod in silent agreement toward the Hobbit. He sorely wished they could risk lighting a torch to solidify their beliefs, but he knew that would be practically handing themselves in. Pulling away from the gap in the stony earth slightly, he eyed the structuring around the opening. He began to trace lines around stones as the gears in his head turned with a steady clicking and whirring.

“I do think I can get that opening a great deal bigger in a pinch, as long as I bring along just a couple tools…” he whispered to his comrade, who gave a nod of understanding in reply.

“You feel confident enough to move on?” the Hobbit asked in a voice Vrór had to strain to hear. The Dwarf hesitated for a moment before he nodded sharply. It would do. He had completed tunneling projects on hundreds of occasions before taking up work in Minas Tirith, where those Men were much more interested in raising things high above the ground and waiting for the wind to blow them over.

“Let’s see what we can find out about the camp,” Vrór muttered. He gingerly replaced the rock to close the hole he had maid, and then gestured with his axe that Carl take the lead shuffling along the bank past where they had discovered their tunnel. They would follow a small bend in the stream to get a little closer to the camp. Their hearts pounded in their ears, and every sound they made brought them a feeling of utmost dread.

Once around the bend, their eyes were caught by a small fern-like growth that appeared upon closer to look to be seemingly a patch of well-grown weeds. The two squatted down to silently debate who would take a chance at peeking at the camp through the vegetation. Vrór insisted as best he could without using any words, and Carl relented. Rising slowly, inch by inch, the Dwarf peered through the patch of weeds, reaching up just as slowly to pull a few out of his line of vision.

He did a quick recount, and found himself again looking at about two-dozen men. He caught sight of metal glinting in the sunlight by a rough tent nearest to the stream, and focused on it. Armour of some kind…perhaps more for show than anything else, but… One man strutted around the camp with both a sword and a long knife at his belt. There were smells in the air that said that they had food that smelled…well, like food, rather than a meager portion of whatever they could find. Mostly they seemed at ease.

Near to their tunnel, Vrór estimated, two men walked above, obviously trying to look busy through rather determined looking pacing. One had a sword, the other a spear, at least. Certainly well-armed, well-fed, and well full of themselves, this lot. Perhaps that was why they had stopped in the middle of the day – they were taking their time, feeling they had nothing to lose or to rush. Or perhaps they did not wish to move too far away from the slaves, who, at least according to Aiwendil, and apparently the strange Southern fellow, were not too far north of here. Were these men waiting for something? There seemed to be something else underlying the laziness in the camp. Something was waiting, watching, and plotting…

Pulling himself slowly back down, Vrór whispered a few of his findings to Carl, and then asked him if he’d like to risk a look, as well. The Hobbit hoisted himself up, knowing that four eyes were better than two. The Dwarf waited beneath, and seconds dragged on for hours before Carl finally lowered back down.

“There are two guards, and they both were speaking to someone below them…it is a pit, just as Aiwendil said. And they…they…kicked and threw…dirt…maybe rocks…down…” he trailed off. Both felt pained to think how they were treating two children.

After agreeing it was time to move on, the Dwarf and the Hobbit made their way back around the bed, and past where they knew the tunnel was, sparing it a glance or two. They followed the stream away from the camp for longer than they had followed it toward the camp, before they climbed out of the streambed, and made their way back to the rest of the Fellowship, where they hoped camp awaited them. It was about their only hope. Covered in dirt, the Fellowship of the Fourth Age’s spies approached the camp, dragging their feet, having forgotten for the moment the good news of the tunnel.
Durelin is offline  
Old 08-07-2006, 03:04 AM   #132
Child of the 7th Age
Spirit of the Lonely Star
 
Child of the 7th Age's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Posts: 5,135
Child of the 7th Age is a guest of Tom Bombadil.
Aiwendil and Lindir:

Despite his earlier advice to Dorran and Athwen that the members of the fellowship should exercise patience, Aiwendil was the first to leap up from his chores and wag his staff excitedly towards the north. "Rôg, Lindir, take a look. That direction over there. I've not seen such woebegone travellers in a while. But what a welcome sight!" He pointed towards tiny specks in the distance that grew larger with every step.

Once the scouts approached within a hundred paces, the istar waved again and let out a broad haloo to indicate that everything was fine in camp. In a manner of minutes, all had gathered around the two returnees. Carl and Vrór each took some good natured ribbing about their dirty faces and disreputable looking appearance. Before the travellers sat down to talk, they were given fresh water to scrub off the worst of the mud and dirt, and were afterwards rewarded with a generous portion of journey bread and ale to slake their hunger and thirst.

When the two had finished wolfing down their meal, Lindir turned straight to the business at hand. Each of the scouts described what they had seen in the slavers' camp and how the streambed they'd followed had led into a tunnel very close to where the prisoners were kept. Lindir listened with particular interest while Vrór explained that he and Carl could likely break through to the prison if they had proper digging tools. There was absolute silence as Carl went on to state how they had heard the sound of one child, but only one, when they'd listened to the noises coming from the underground pit and how the guards had thrown rocks and dirt down into the enclosure where the prisoners were being kept.

After asking several pointed questions of the scouts, Lindir turned to the others and spoke, "It seems we'll have our work cut out tonight. Carl and Vrôr must dig through the tunnel. A few others will need to back them up by that streambed, to get rid of the guards and anyone else who tries to stop us from rescuing the children. We also need someone to wait a short distance away and keep an eye on the horses, since we may need to get out of there very quickly." Here, Lindir glanced briefly at Athwen. "Actually it's even more than that. We don't really know what shape the slaves are in. The fact that Carl and Vrór heard only one voice is not encouraging. In addition to having the horses handy, we've also got to be prepared to transport children who may be sick or unconscious."

"Alright then, who does what? Any more suggestions or ideas how to go about this? I have been wondering if we'd want to send someone to the far side of the camp to create a diversion. Or would that only decrease our numbers since we need to take care of those guards?"

Last edited by Child of the 7th Age; 08-07-2006 at 03:22 AM.
Child of the 7th Age is offline  
Old 08-07-2006, 05:09 PM   #133
Folwren
Messenger of Hope
 
Folwren's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Location: In a tiny, insignificant little town in one of the many States.
Posts: 5,228
Folwren is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.Folwren is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.
Kwell

Kwell shifted in the dimness of his prison. His arms ached terribly and his wrists felt raw where the ropes had chaffed away at the skin. He shifted for the second hundredth time in the past hour, his eyes darting once again around the pit. Azhar still lay unconsciously on the ground. She had hardly moved and hadn’t waked at all. He had ceased to call to her and now he sat in silence, too, a despairing feeling settling slowly and steadily into his heart.

For sometime now there had been a steady tramp, tramp of feet above him. He knew from that sound that there were guards, at least two of them, pacing back and forth just by the pit. Also, the light had grown until the dimness was easily seen through and he knew that the sun had completely finished clearing the eastern horizon and was probably someway up in the sky. Yet they did nothing.

‘I wonder why?’ he thought to himself. ‘Something should be happening. I don’t know what and I doubt it’d be anything good, but something should be happening.’

The thoughts spun around again and again in his head but just as no answer came, neither did anything happen. Azhar slept on, almost entirely still, the guards continued to walk to and fro, and Kwell still sat in the half darkness.

After a while, Kwell began to notice hunger gnawing at his stomach. It had been there for sometime, he realized, for now it seemed to turn over and groan with its own voice. He winced. It was far past day break now, he was certain. Would they feed them nothing?

Kwell moved forward, pushing himself away from the wall with his shoulders. He got to his knees and crawled forward, just under the grate. No one was in sight, but he knew they were near the grating. “Hollo!” he called. “You! You, up there!”

The steady tread of boots stopped abruptly, and then he heard footsteps again walking quickly to right above him. He saw the figure of a man against the square of light, looking down. “What’dye want?” a rough voice demanded.

“To talk to your leader fellow!” Kwell answered. A great laugh answered him. “To tell him that you’re disobeying orders,” the boy continued at once. The fellow’s mirth was cut short.

“I’m not disobeying no one’s orders,” he barked.

“You were told to take care o’ us, weren’t you?” Kwell asked.

“None of yer business! Keep your nose out of my orders!”

“You were ordered to take care of us and you’re not. You’re letting us go hungry, quite a bad thing, especially if we die. Give us sommit to eat, or I’ll make such a noise that you’re leader will come running whether you fetch him or not!”

“Keep your mouth shut!” the man warned.

“Feed us!” Kwell demanded.

“Here! See if you can eat dirt. Ha! Ha!” Kwell ducked by instinct, bowing his head and receiving a rein of dirt clods on the back of his head.

“We’ve got dirt enough down here, thanks very much!” Kwell answered bitterly, lifting his head again. “Numbskull,” he added after a second’s consideration.

“What did you say?” the man fairly roared. Kwell repeated it, but he had hardly finished before he stooped to grab a rock. Kwell saw him and stopped abruptly and moved to one side immediately. The stone came hurling down and struck Kwell hard on the left shoulder. He bit back a cry of pain, but he didn’t stop the curses. More rocks followed the first and Kwell scurried as quickly as he could away from the opening and into a far corner. “Take that, you little rat, and teach you to talk to us like that!”

Kwell knew better than to answer aloud, but to himself, he muttered further imprecations and insults. “Villains. . .rogues. . .the lot of you ought to be stuffed with stones and tossed into the sea. Or fed to wargs, maybe. And I wonder if that old spider’s still alive. . .oh, yes, I’m sure She’d like them. . .they’re probably nice and fat.” The thought of the pack of slavers being caught by the legendary giant spider in the mountains below old Cirith Ungol seemed a comfort to Kwell’s furious mind, and he relapsed finally into silence.

Last edited by Folwren; 08-07-2006 at 08:22 PM.
Folwren is offline  
Old 08-07-2006, 07:47 PM   #134
Folwren
Messenger of Hope
 
Folwren's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Location: In a tiny, insignificant little town in one of the many States.
Posts: 5,228
Folwren is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.Folwren is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.
Athwen

Athwen and Dorran, side by side, listened intently while Carl and Vrôr reported what they had discovered in their spying. Athwen felt a fierce dislike and disgust towards the men creep into her thoughts and a deep pity towards the children, whoever they might be, at the same time. Kicking and throwing dirt and rocks at them? Her blue eyes flashed as the two finally finished their story and Lindir began to speak.

“It seems we'll have our work cut out tonight. Carl and Vrôr must dig through the tunnel. A few others will need to back them up by that streambed, to get rid of the guards and anyone else who tries to stop us from rescuing the children. We also need someone to wait a short distance away and keep an eye on the horses, since we may need to get out of there very quickly.” Athwen caught Lindir’s eye as he looked quickly towards her and away again. She nodded to herself, understanding, as he went on to explain. “Actually it's even more than that. We don't really know what shape the slaves are in. The fact that Carl and Vrór heard only one voice is not encouraging. In addition to having the horses handy, we've also got to be prepared to transport children who may be sick or unconscious.”

Athwen looked down towards the ground at that thought. She would have to think about what would be best, but really, it would greatly depend on just why the child was unconscious and in what way it was sick. She only half heard the rest of Lindir’s speaking. What she did hear had little to do with her anyway.

A short pause fell as the company considered. Athwen looked back up. “I will stay with the horses,” she said, looking at Lindir. “There, I’ll be able to be with the children almost immediately and if they’ll need any help, I’ll be able to administer it at once.”

Last edited by Folwren; 08-07-2006 at 08:23 PM.
Folwren is offline  
Old 08-08-2006, 03:23 PM   #135
Hilde Bracegirdle
Relic of Wandering Days
 
Hilde Bracegirdle's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: You'll See Perpetual Change.
Posts: 1,486
Hilde Bracegirdle has just left Hobbiton.
Carl

Everything seemed to be rolling in the right direction now. But the restlessness of the slaver’s camp had stuck with Carl. They were busy about something over there, and what that might be he couldn’t say, but he sincerely hoped that the children would not disappear before they had a chance to return.

He had to admit though that he was feeling a bit more optimistic after he’d had a wash and a bite to eat. Help would soon be on the way and a healer as well. And he was thankful too, that Lindir had thought of using a diversion. The hobbit looked at the faces around him, hoping that someone might speak soon in favor of it, or maybe even go so far as to volunteer. After a bit of thought he said so as to encourage the idea, “There is a good amount of rock that way, which might get risky. I mean it would be good if, as you say, someone were to direct notice else where. After all, while we might get away with a little bit of noise at the tunnel entrance, it is possible that we might hit a stone by the pit, in which case it might prove a quicker end to the matter to just walk straight into the camp and ask them for the youngsters outright.”

Carl explained that he’d the tools that would do for digging, albeit without proper handles, but that they were made of metal. “Seems that the folks who provisioned us, thought we could make us some handles once were ready to start with the farming. It might work quite nicely in that tight spot, to be without them, I think. But still, they could prove as good as a horn for announcing our approach, if we miss our mark in the last stretch!”

Then looking furtively at the group, he felt that perhaps he was thinking of only Vrór and himself, and so he added hastily, “I am all for a drawing off attention, but then again it’d be drawing attention on to someone else, and I reckon that might be a sticking point, unless there is some other way around it that I haven’t thought of. Maybe it's just better to dig slow and careful.”
Hilde Bracegirdle is offline  
Old 08-08-2006, 05:49 PM   #136
Tevildo
Shade of Carn Dûm
 
Tevildo's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: Curled up on Melko's lap
Posts: 425
Tevildo has just left Hobbiton.
Dorran:

After Carl explained some of the difficulties they might encounter in breaking through to the pit, Dorran leaned over to his wife and took her hand in his.

"You know, I must go," he whispered shakily, his words barely audible even to Athwen. "While you hold the horses and prepare your healing herbs, someone has to guard Carl and Vrór to be sure that they come to no harm and to fight off any in the camp who would prevent us from reaching those children. I've had more experience with a sword than any here except for Lindir. It seems only right that I should take up my weapon on behalf of the prisoners."

Dorran squeezed his wife's hand. "You've always been the one watching and waiting while I ride off to distant places with a sword at my side. Only this time, you'll be waiting just over the hill. I promise. I'll be careful and come back just as I've always done."

With that, Dorran turned towards Lindir and, seeing that Carl had finished speaking, voiced his own thoughts to the group. "As to the diversion, I am no expert on that. But I have raised my sword in battle many a time, and I can think of no better reason to do it again than to protect my companions who will be breaking through to that pit and to those poor unfortunate children. I pledge my sword to help take out the guard and stand against any who come against us."

Lindir nodded his head in appreciation, "I was hoping for that. I too will stand beside you with sword and bow, and together we will do our best."

The Elf turned to the others one last time and spoke. "As to the decoy, I still feel it is our best hope. We are few in number, and I would prefer to have some of these slavers busy with something else on the other side of camp." He glanced over at Aiwendil but the istar had drawn back from the circle and was quietly speaking with Rôg.

Last edited by Tevildo; 08-10-2006 at 02:22 AM.
Tevildo is offline  
Old 08-09-2006, 12:56 AM   #137
Child of the 7th Age
Spirit of the Lonely Star
 
Child of the 7th Age's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Posts: 5,135
Child of the 7th Age is a guest of Tom Bombadil.
"Well, my good friend, it seems we already have diggers and fighters and an excellent healer. That only leaves the two of us. Everything has been decided except the little ruckus on the other side of camp to help take pressure off the others. That would seem to be the type of thing you and I could profitably think about and come up with a plan."

"From what I understand the animals and supplies are held on the far perimeter of camp, the exact opposite side where the children are. We'll be on our own, cut off from the others, so we could even be a little.....shall we say, creative in our tactics. If you happen to have any ideas, I'd be happy to hear and consider them. In any case, I certainly don't want to sit here and do nothing, with those poor children's lives hanging in the balance."

Aiwendil had a somewhat impish look in his eye as he sidled up closer to Rôg and tapped him on the shoulder, gently nudging him away from the circle where the others were still seated.

Last edited by Child of the 7th Age; 08-11-2006 at 01:47 AM.
Child of the 7th Age is offline  
Old 08-09-2006, 06:54 PM   #138
piosenniel
Desultory Dwimmerlaik
 
piosenniel's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: Pickin' flowers with Bill the Cat.....
Posts: 7,791
piosenniel is a guest of Tom Bombadil.
Rôg looked down at the ground as he scraped his toes back and forth in the dirt. ‘Horses, you know, are prey animals. They have their eyes fixed on either side of their heads to watch for attackers. They spook easily in the presence of a predator.’ He nodded his head thoughtfully. ‘And one with the smell of blood about him would send them into a panic.’

He looked over to where Aiwendil stood, leaning on his staff. ‘A two pronged thrust might be best. Making the response from the slavers a divided one.’ He laughed a little, more of an undignified snort, really. ‘Horses and food – a sure strike at the belly of their little company.’

With a stretch of his arms above his head and a flex of his backbone so that it popped satisfyingly, Rôg grinned at the old man. ‘The one I think I can handle. The other I was hoping you could provide.....some smoke and fireworks?’ He raised an eyebrow at Aiwendil. ‘I recall the King speaking of one he knew who could light up the skies with his little magics. We won’t need something quite as dramatic. Just some well placed fiery splashes near the cook and supply tents. And smoke to make a nice murky atmosphere. Lindir can look for some signal that the slavers are engaged by our little show and then proceed with the rescue. What do you think?’

The question, really, was more of an afterthought. Not waiting for Aiwendil to answer, Rôg hastened to gather up their own packs and supplies. The old fellow had a crafty look about him, he thought, as he left him leaning on his staff, brows beetling in anticipation of the night’s undertaking. Rôg was sure his companion would come up with something appropriate to the task at hand.

Last edited by piosenniel; 08-12-2006 at 12:12 PM.
piosenniel is offline  
Old 08-10-2006, 04:30 PM   #139
Nogrod
Flame of the Ainulindalë
 
Nogrod's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Wearing rat's coat, crowskin, crossed staves in a field behaving as the wind behaves
Posts: 9,051
Nogrod has passed beneath the Argonath.Nogrod has passed beneath the Argonath.Nogrod has passed beneath the Argonath.Nogrod has passed beneath the Argonath.Nogrod has passed beneath the Argonath.Nogrod has passed beneath the Argonath.
Send a message via MSN to Nogrod
Hadith

The sun started showing itself from behind the distant hills and the mood among the refugees was confused to state the least. Khamir had called that they would stay for awhile because of the wounded but otherwise no one seemed to have any idea of what were they going to do. Most of the people seemed to have laid down or stick on their personal affairs so that they would not need to take any stance on anything that concerned their common future. Even Khamir had backed down by himself, leaning to the rock he had leaned before the incident with Fewerth and his fellows. But how could anyone think of sleeping after all that had happened to them? Hadith was sure that no one couldn’t, and as he had passed a number of slaves on his wandering around he had noticed it too. To his eyes they were all awake! Why are you hiding your heads now? He wanted to cry out aloud. You wanted to change the command here, so why isn’t anyone standing straight and taking the lead? What are you waiting for?

Hadith was frustrated. We all are waiting for nothing! People who are nothing, not yet ready to grasp their freedom and who end up with nothing, just being slaves again... or getting killed. How stupid! What a waste!

He was about to start yelling to all people around him when he suddenly noticed Beloan walking from beside him some yards away. “Beloan! Beloan!” he called to him and half run to the older man. Beloan had stopped when hearing the familiar voice and waited for Hadith to come to him.

“What is it, Hadith?” he asked both gently and calmly, making a faint smile to encourage the youth to speak his mind.

“Well, I was just thinking...”, Hadith began, feeling quite nervous and trying to settle his breath. After all, he realised, he was still just a boy and it didn’t actually seem to be his bussiness to get involved in the larger matters. But he had already opened his mouth and Beloan was waiting for an answer. “Well, I mean... why are we not doing anything?” He got more agitated as he managed to let out the first words. “Why is everyone just faking to be asleep or to mind their own things? It doesn’t make sense!” He was already shouting the last words.

Hadith was about to continue but Beloan silenced him with a gesture of his hand and addressed him quietly. “Not everyone is faking a sleep. Some people do actually sleep and we should give them the chance”. Beloan took a look at the boy as the first rays of the sun were reaching his hair. “But you are right. Many of them do not sleep. But you should not blame them for that. We are all afraid and confused. Maybe a little time, all of us on our own, will clear our heads? Don’t you think it possible?” Beloan had studied Hadith’s expressions intensly all the time he had spoken to the lad. Hadith nodded slowly and returned his gaze to Beloan.

“We have several badly wounded here, Hadith. If we would leave them, we could start off immediately. But are you the one ready to make that kind of decision on behalf of them and those who care for them? And if we wait for them to be well enough to move, we face other difficult questions, like how to deal with the next night and a possible raid of even more slavers? Would you like to make those decisions in a haste just to make things moving? Oftentimes hasty decisions make things move to a bad direction, Hadith. So let us wait for a while and think with clearer heads then.” Beloan shook his head slowly as in anguish himself and then looked at Hadith again. To Hadith he looked both old and tired, much older than he had looked before. Hadith was astonished about the change in Beloan and remained silent, trying to avoid his gaze.

“Hadith. Look at me.” He said with a commanding but still low voice. Hadith raised his head to meet his eyes. “Do you still feel like not getting a sleep if you tried?” Hadith was so surprised of the question that he only managed to mumble his positive answer, only intelligible accompanied by the soft nod that followed it. “Have you eaten anything lately?” Beloan continued and started untying the knots from his beltpouch. As Hadith shook his head, Beloan handed him a small piece of smoked deer from his pouch and looked at him firmly but confidently.

“Get to that larger hill over there” he said, pointing to a bit higher hill a good mile from them to the East. “We need keen eyes in a head we all can trust to give us a warning if something threatens us. From there you will spot all movement miles around from us. We’ll send someone to replace you after a couple of hours.” Hadith nodded but didn’t make a move to leave Beloan.

“Take it as an order of your old supervisor who just tries to think for us all in a situation where no one else seems to be doing it very actively”, with that he winked an eye to Hadith and turned around, starting slowly to walk towards Khamir and a few others of the original escapees.

Hadith beat the mile running lightly. The climb made him lose his breath for a while, but he recovered soon enough. Hadith really had quite a magnificient view of the surroundings from the top of the hill. Surely some lesser hills deprived him from seeing all that could have moved at the landscape, but anyone approaching them would probably get caught in his eyes sooner or later.

Hadith checked all the directions carefully before setting himself down to a smallish boulder and taking the piece of meat Beloan had given to him. He was hungry indeed.

Beloan baffled him. Partly he thought that Beloan had really trusted him with an important mission and that his watch here on the top of this hill was of the highest importance to all. But partly he thought that as he had acted somewhat childishly, Beloan had treated him accordingly and just gotten rid of him.

After he had eaten, tiredness crept along and started dizzying his head even more. The sun had risen and its warmth surrounded him from everywhere. I will not sleep, I will not sleep on duty..., Hadith kept telling himself and started counting the time he looked at each direction, drawing a line on the ground with every change as he got to the hundred.
Nogrod is offline  
Old 08-11-2006, 04:21 PM   #140
Child of the 7th Age
Spirit of the Lonely Star
 
Child of the 7th Age's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Posts: 5,135
Child of the 7th Age is a guest of Tom Bombadil.
Imak:

All day the camp buzzed with activity as the slavers prepared for the coming raid. Blades were sharpened, neck collars tested, and hunting parties organized to ride out onto the surrounding plain and track down the few game animals that lived in the region so that a large group of slaves could be safely transported back to the southern plantations. Gurug slipped out at midday with instructions from Imak to spy on the slaves who were camped some six miles to the northwest. His task was a simple one: to see if the slaves were making preparations to leave the next day. If Gurug saw any indications of this, the slavers would attack that evening. Otherwise, they would take full advantage of the extra time and postpone their attack till the following night.

By the time Gurug returned and strode into Imak's tent, twilight had already fallen. Grey shadows bathed the ground, and the first stars were visible in the dusky sky. This passage of time, however, had done little to improve Imak's disposition. He was still fuming about his missing sword and had spent most of the day tearing up the camp and interrogating his men to be sure that one of his own had not used the tumult of the evening as an excuse to take it.

Glaring impatiently at Gurug, Imak barked out a series of questions, "What took you so long? I could have ridden there and back ten times. And the slave camp? What are they doing? Any sign of armed resistence or preparing to flee? Have you seen or overheard anything I should know?"

"Well, Captain, I had amazing luck. I wore old, tattered clothes and a heavy hood pulled down to conceal my face. I had no trouble approaching camp. The guards were young and inexperienced, and it was easy to slip through, even in daylight. For the most part I hid, but once or twice I actually walked among them."

Imak turned to Gurug and immediately snapped, "That was foolish. You could have been discovered. And I would not have bothered sending anyone to rescue your hide!"

"But there was no chance of that, sir. There are so many of them.....like sheep being led over a cliff. I kept my head down and asked no questons. They argue and fight. One hand does not know what the other is doing. It would be harder if they were a small, tight knit band. But with a mob of over sixty, they can not agree on anything. There's no signs of anyone preparing to leave."

"I am sick of this game," growled Imak. "I am sick of playing cat and mouse with these insolent slaves who come and steal my sword. But I am also not a fool. They are greater in number, and we could use that extra time to prepare. Tell the men we'll hold off now and attack tomorrow night, since the slaves are obviously going nowhere. Our men must redouble their preparations. Plus, as much as I love the sound of coins in my pocket, I've come to believe there's no practical way we can transport over sixty slaves back to the plantations. Let the men know there'll be fine sport after we take the camp. We'll kill off the old and feeble and anyone too young to bring a good price and then drag the others off."

Gurug was about to leave when Imak pressed him one final time. "Anything else? Did you see anything that looked strange? Anything I should know about?"

Gurug hesitated, shifting nervously from one foot to the other, before he responded, "Well, Captain, you said how some of them, at least the leaders, would have horses. That's how they got here to do their foul business. But I swear I saw no horses. and I don't see how they could have covered that ground so fast if they were on foot."

"Pah! So what am I to believe? What are you telling me?" growled Imak. "You just didn't look closely. The horses were probably tethered someplace nearby. All day, I've had riders of our own surrounding that slave camp to be sure that no one on horseback flees bearing my sword or tries to come here and rob from us again. Those horses are there, believe me. That is, unless you would have me believe we've been robbed by a band of ghosts or another party of travellers who are on a pleasaure trip across the Ash Plains. With all the trouble reported in Gorgoroth, only a fool would dare make the journey to northern Mordor. Now go. I'll keep a full five riders posted tonight outside the slave camp as well as our regular guard of two here so we can sleep and relax without fear of further mischief."

Not wanting to get into an argument he could not win, Gurug quickly conceded, "You're probably right. I just didn't look in the right place." Then he stepped outside the tent and brought the news to the other men, adding that it would be best if Imak had no visitors as their leader was immersed in planning the next night's attack. In actuality, despite the relatively early hour, Imak threw himself onto his bed and was soon snoring contentedly. Gurug spent a moment thinking about the horses. He was very sure he had searched the entire camp. But if the slave leaders weren't robbing the camp, then someone else had to be out here on the plain and, as Imak had pointed out, that wasn't very likely. He promised to himself that later in the evening he would personally patrol the perimeters of the encampment, searching for signs of other bandits. But then some enterprising fellow rolled out one of the two giant ale casks that had been lovingly stored away for a night of relaxation.

Gurug listened as he tapped into its contents and reassured the others. "Captain says we're safe. Five of our men are patrolling the outskirts of the slave camp, plus the two on guard here. We've had nothing but work and worry. So let's have a go at this. I could use a drink." All agreed with that cheerful pronuncement. Ale and conversation flowed freely and, amidst these revelries, Gurug quickly forgot his promise to search for another band of robbers.

Last edited by Child of the 7th Age; 08-12-2006 at 06:37 PM.
Child of the 7th Age is offline  
Old 08-14-2006, 12:47 AM   #141
Regin Hardhammer
Shade of Carn Dûm
 
Regin Hardhammer's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: Tumunzahar/Nogrod
Posts: 364
Regin Hardhammer has just left Hobbiton.
Ishkur:

As soon as the sun had slipped under the horizon, Ishkur had gone to the slavers' camp hoping to help himself to another meal. He was upset to find that the camp was much better guarded than the night before. Ishkur cautiously circled the entire site and counted a total of five guards, all mounted on horses and each keeping a tight eye on the pens where the other animals were held. The pickings for dinner were going to be slim. Perhaps he'd been wrong when he'd insisted that they should stay and raid again.

Ishkur's empty stomach made him bolder than usual. Cursing quietly under his breath, the orc crept closer to the middle of camp and hid behind a pile of brush and small logs that had been stacked up near one of the firepits. It was actually a foolish thing to do. One man came uncomfortably close to where he was hiding so that Ishkur had to duck down and remain still. He pulled out his sword from the sheath in case he needed to defend himself but the man had thankfully drifted by and the orc was again left alone.

Within a short time, several men had clustered around the firepit. They talked excitedly and tapped into a large keg of ale, filling their tankards several times and greedily gulping down their brew. Ishkur's mouth watered as he saw the cask and smelled the enticing aroma. He hadn't had a decent drink in a very long time, and he would give a great deal to tap into that second keg that stood off unopened to the side. Unfortunately, there was absolutely no chance for him to do that unless he wanted to risk being seen.

Instead, Ishkur listened carefully trying to make out what the men were saying. At first he understood nothing. However, as the slavers refilled their cups, their words became louder and more insistent. Each was bragging about how he would recapture a dozen or more slaves and gain a rich reward. Piecing together the scraps of conversation, Ishkur was surprised to learn that all the slavers planned to ride out from the camp the next night in order to teach a lesson to an uppity group of slaves and drag them back to the plantations that lay further south. Ishkur couldn't care less what happened in the battle beween slaves and slavers. Let them all murder each other! But he was very interested to hear that the slavers' camp would be totally deserted, perhaps for the entire night.

The orcs wouldn't be able to capture any more horses, since the slavers would take these with them to help do their fighting. But the slavers would likely leave behind a few choice donkeys that they only used for transporting food and supplies. The donkeys, however, were not the only reason that Ishkur was excited. Being only weak men instead of strong and vital orcs, the slavers couldn't drink two full casks of ale in a single night. That full keg of ale, the one that hadn't been opened, would still be there tomorrow night. Plus, the orcs would be able to ride through the camp and strip it of any personal belongings that the men had left behind. This more than made up for the fact that they were unlikely to get very many interesting things tonight.

Eager to tell his news to the others, Ishkur slipped through the shadows and onto the plain. Then he trotted back to their camp. Reaching his destination, he called out to the others: "Gwerr, Makdush, Ungolt, Grask, Zagra and Mazhg.....all of you come here! I have wonderful news. The pickings are thin tonight, although I do plan to go back later and see if I can find something to eat. But tomorrow night will be different." He then proceeded to tell them that the slavers would be going to war against the slaves and how the camp would be totally deserted with many fine things for the orcs to steal and a bountiful supply of ale to enjoy.

Last edited by Regin Hardhammer; 08-16-2006 at 02:26 AM.
Regin Hardhammer is offline  
Old 08-14-2006, 01:00 AM   #142
Child of the 7th Age
Spirit of the Lonely Star
 
Child of the 7th Age's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Posts: 5,135
Child of the 7th Age is a guest of Tom Bombadil.
The fellowship departs:

Most of the group had already drifted away by the time Aiwendil turned from Rôg and went over to speak with Lindir. Athwen had retreated to check on the herbs and supplies that might be needed for the children who would soon be under her care, and several others in the fellowship were carefully surveying the weapons and tools that they planned to carry into camp.

The sky was grey and darkening with the first stars of evening visible overhead when Aiwendil pulled Lindir over to one side and briefly assured him that he and Rôg would be able to create a ruckus to divert some of the attention away from the prisoners and those who were digging in the tunnel. The Elf listened and then shook his head, "I have been worried about you two. Are you certain you want to do this? We may be just fine without a diversion."

Aiwendil stared straight at Lindir, a peevish look shadowing his face, "Come now. I have been creating mischief for a good many more years than you have been alive on Arda. I will be just fine."

With a sigh, Lindir replied, "My friend, be sensible, it's not you I am worried about. Your companion, though a hard worker, seems to have little familiarity with a sword."

"As to his training with a sword, I can not say. But Rôg has many skills that can be put to good use on the field of battle."

"I do not doubt his heart or will, but these are hard and demanding times."

Aiwendil quickly countered, "I'll keep an eye on the young man and make sure he comes to no harm. You have my word on that."

"You wouldn't want to give me any more information on what the two of you have planned." The words were spoken more as a statement than a question.

"We are still working things out. Only do not be alarmed if you hear some loud noises or see bright lights. And Rôg has an idea that may actually draw some of the men away from camp."

"Just be careful," Lindir pleaded. "I have no wish to explain to Elessar why two of his trusted emissaries met their end even before we could speak with the slave leader."

Aiwendil nodded in agreement, and, within a very short time, the entire party had mounted up and was riding towards the slavers' camp. At first Lindir headed slightly west leading the group to the half-concealed thicket where Athwen was to stay with the horses and prepare for the children. The rest of the fellowship waited a moment at a discrete distance to allow Dorran to say his private goodbyes to his wife. Then they turned to the east carrying both tools and weapons. By the time the moon was visible overhead, they had come to the outskirts of the slavers' camp.

Last edited by Child of the 7th Age; 08-17-2006 at 05:39 PM.
Child of the 7th Age is offline  
Old 08-17-2006, 12:39 PM   #143
piosenniel
Desultory Dwimmerlaik
 
piosenniel's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: Pickin' flowers with Bill the Cat.....
Posts: 7,791
piosenniel is a guest of Tom Bombadil.
In the distance, woven in the shadows of the scrubby trees, silence and moon-beribboned darkness held the figures of the man and women as they spoke softly with one another. The rest of the companions had drawn a little ways away to afford the couple some last moments of privacy before the undertaking.

Rôg stood a little apart from the others of the companions, his cloak wrapped tight about him against the cooler night breeze. His eyes fell often on the man and his wife. His sister had been married less than a year ago. Her letters spoke of her continued happiness and the little joys, the contentments that grow between a husband and wife. They echoed his recollections of his younger years, watching his own mother and father engage and interweave with one another in the daily patterns of their lives. He fingered the lobe of his left ear, wondering if such a union would be his to find.

Now where were these thoughts coming from?

The darkness hid his smile…along with the quick shift of his shoulders as he shrugged off the little reverie.

A few quick steps brought him to where Aiwendil waited. A few quick words gave the older man Rôg’s assurance that he would be ready and waiting for him to begin their diversion.

‘Just give me some small signal that you’re ready. I’ll see the horses set in motion then.’

~*~

A short time later . . .

The mountain cat stretched out his forelegs, digging his long sharp claws into the dirt. Muscles along his back flexed and rippled, ending in a sudden twitch of his tail. He was downwind from where the horses were picketed. His nostrils widened; his lips pulled back from his teeth in a ghastly sort of smile as he took in their scent. They were content; no scent of fear or panic laden sweat.

Dipping his jowls into the freshly killed carcass of some small animal he’d caught, the cat bloodied his muzzle. Once he moved upwind of the small herd they would catch the scent of blood and death and dread would drive them into frenzy.

Last edited by piosenniel; 08-26-2006 at 01:43 AM.
piosenniel is offline  
Old 08-17-2006, 07:13 PM   #144
Durelin
Estelo dagnir, Melo ring
 
Durelin's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2002
Posts: 3,121
Durelin is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.Durelin is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.
Khamir

That morning was the first thing in some time to catch Khamir off-guard. For the first time in his life he was not certain what to do. Decisions had been so easy up till this time. The path ahead of him had been clear. Things had been simple. It was live or die. He knew what he had to do to survive, and all that was left was to execute. Now he had been presented with people who did not seem to feel the same way, and even people who he had fought with for their survival would not take what to Khamir was the obvious route to survival. If they lingered here, they would all be captured or killed. And if they went on some daring rescue for just two lives, ten times that at least would be lost.

But somehow, pressing on did not seem right. Certainly it was impossible for now. Everyone was settled in, if restless. They could not sit still, but they had no direction, and so could not move either.

He heard footsteps, and shot his head up to see who was approaching. He found Beloan standing above where he sat. The one-armed man had not budged from his spot for hours. He had tried to rest, but found it impossible, perhaps because he had thought about how much he would regret it if he did not sleep. Strangely, his comrade was smiling. Anticipating a question as Khamir eyed him, Beloan spoke.

“It’s that boy, Hadith. He’s a sharp one. He’s sitting up top the hill,” the man gestured, “I can’t think we could be in better hands.”

“And I can’t think it matters,” Khamir responded gruffly.

Beloan simply shook his head and turned to look at the rising sun. After several moments of silence, the man started, and looked back at Khamir and their surroundings, seemingly pulled sharply back into the present by a sudden thought.

“Where’s Shae?” he questioned.

“Shae? Most likely still sulking because Gondor still has failed. Mostly she’s kept her distance since we left the caves…and I can’t say I’ve seen her since she gave that loud-mouthed girl an even better reason to slit my throat in the night…for which I’m glad.”

Beloan just stared at the obviously bitter man seated before him. “You really should have gotten some rest.”
Durelin is offline  
Old 08-27-2006, 10:37 PM   #145
Brinniel
Reflection of Darkness
 
Brinniel's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2002
Location: Polishing the stars. Well, somebody has to do it; they're looking a little bit dull.
Posts: 2,897
Brinniel is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.Brinniel is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.Brinniel is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.
Dusk approached, marking the end of a long, uneventful day. Shae sat facing the west, staring out at the orange and pink hue that was left of the sun. As each minute went by, she could feel the restlessness spread throughout her body. A whole day had been wasted by sitting and doing absolutely nothing. And why was that? Khamir. The slightest thoughts of him made her clench her hands into fists. The previous night had been spent in complete chaos, mostly in disapproval of Khamir’s actions, yet the ex-slaves still followed his orders.

Shae kept thinking back to the children who had been taken—Kwell and Azhar were their names. Surely they have given up on all hope of being rescued by now. Shae hated to think of the suffering they would forced to endure. It shouldn’t be so. Leaving innocent children in the hands of slavers while the others simply rested. And even worse, there were no intentions to depart the next day. Shae’s nails dug into her palms causing her old wounds to reopen and bleed through the bandages. She turned around and gazed at the others. Most were either eating or sleeping. No objections to Khamir’s orders. And not even the slightest bit of sympathy for the captured children. Shae couldn’t take it. For years, she had been reliant on others to help her. But not anymore. If anything were to be done, she would have to do it herself.

Standing to her feet, Shae searched for Khamir with her good eye. He stood in the back of the camp occupied with Beloan. Perfect. Few ever noticed her presence among the ex-slave. It would be a long time before anyone discovered she was gone. With one last look at the camp, Shae took off in the direction of the slavers’ camp.
Brinniel is offline  
Old 08-28-2006, 12:35 PM   #146
Folwren
Messenger of Hope
 
Folwren's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Location: In a tiny, insignificant little town in one of the many States.
Posts: 5,228
Folwren is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.Folwren is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.
Kwell sat in the darkness of the pit, his head bowed, his back bent, and his hands still bound behind him. The forever half dimness of his prison had an hour ago given way to the nearly complete blackness of night. As the shadows advanced and the light retreated, the dread that had been held at bay all day long bounded forward like some animal on its prey. Whatever hope Kwell had entertained fled with the sunlight. What was there now to hope for after all?

Azhar still lay in unconsciousness. Not once that day had she risen or responded to Kwell as he moved about and tried to speak to her. Once or twice she had caused his hopes to sour when she began to speak, but he soon realized that the words were unconnected with anything and were insane. After that, each time she spoke or cried out, Kwell shuddered with terror and drew away.

Now, as the darkness seeped in from every wall, Kwell sat on his knees in the farthest corner from his companion, his back to the cold, damp stone. It had been a long time since Azhar had last made any sound or movement. Silence ruled over Kwell and his surroundings. He could hear nothing. Nothing at all. The stillness and blackness seemed complete. Was this how it felt to be dead? Was he dead? The void around him was untouchable and beyond knowledge. To his unseeing eyes, everything grew out of proportion until he was a tiny speck in a sea of darkness.

But then a man spoke above. Two men. They walked towards the mouth of the pit, to return to the guard duty they had neglected, Kwell assumed. Not that it was necessary. Kwell was too hungry to want to move and try to escape. But more than that, they brought a torch with them and the light restored to their proper size the things around him, although the shadows flickered and danced in strange ways on the floor of his prison.

They had not only come to guard them, Kwell realized in a minute. The grate was being lifted away and moved. Slowly, he raised himself up onto his knees and watched as one of the men eased himself into the pit. The torch was handed down after him. For a moment, he stood with it lifted above his head as he looked around the pit. He paused a moment in his survey as his eyes lit upon Azhar and then he continued.

“That you, boy?” he barked suddenly. The light half fell on Kwell. The lad moved forward a few feet. “Good. Here. I’ve brought you something to eat. Guess Imak forgot earlier,” he added, a gruff chuckle finding its way out of his throat. He tossed onto the ground something that Kwell couldn’t make out from where he was. “You still tied up?”

“Hand and foot,” Kwell responded dryly.

The man stepped over to him without a word, drawing his knife. He cut the ropes around his wrists, none too carefully, and turned away. Kwell gingerly touched his raw wrists and nursed the new cut the brute had just inflicted. He dully watched the man handing up the torch and preparing to leave.

“Wait!” he called suddenly. He crawled forward quickly, towards the man who was just about to climb out of the pit. Kwell’s eyes flicked from his face to Azhar and back again. Should he tell the man that Azhar had collapsed early that morning, and hadn’t moved since? Or would that only stir doubts in their mind and make them decide she should be gotten rid of. They may not wait for her to get better, he realized. “Never mind,” he muttered after a pause. He’d made up his mind not to tell him. They wouldn’t help, whatever they did. “Go on.”

The man lifted an eyebrow, shrugged, and pulled himself out of the pit. The grate fell back in place. Kwell felt relieved when they didn’t take the torch away and a little bit of light was allowed to enter into the pit. Quickly, he ate the food that they had spared him: old, rancid meat and some sort of dried weed, he assumed.

When he had finished, he picked up Azhar’s portion and pulled himself over to her side. There, he carefully placed the food to one side and then shifted himself to her head. He gently moved her, positioning her onto her back, with her pale face upward.

“Wake up,” he whispered. “Please wake up.” He pushed the damp locks of black hair away from her face and forehead. “If you die and leave me here alone, then I don’t see how I can hope anymore. Azhar. . .” He bit his lip against hot, blistering tears. He hated not doing anything. Now that his hands were free there should be something he could do. He looked around and then thought of the little stream of water. It was just a couple feet behind him. He turned slightly and leaned across towards it and scooped up some of the cold water. He rinsed his hands and drank deeply from it before trying then to take some of it to Azhar.

Most of the water that he scooped up ran out through his fingers before he reached her face. With what little he could manage to transfer to her, he gently bathed her face and her hands and moistened her dry and cracked lips for several minutes, trying to cool her and to rouse her. He didn’t know what else to do, and when that tactic brought no results, he sat back on his feet and folded his hands in his lap to think and to wait, and maybe to give up.
Folwren is offline  
Old 08-28-2006, 07:07 PM   #147
Hilde Bracegirdle
Relic of Wandering Days
 
Hilde Bracegirdle's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: You'll See Perpetual Change.
Posts: 1,486
Hilde Bracegirdle has just left Hobbiton.
Carl

The trip back to the slavers’ camp had seemed rapid enough now that Carl knew what lay ahead, and they reached its outskirts even before the moon had climbed to its apex. But having noted the guards’ positioning, the company decided it was time to continue on foot. And so dismounting, they prepared themselves accordingly, entrusting their horses to Athwen’s care.

Carl, his arms laden with an assortment of tools in a blanket, met Vrór as the dwarf slid down from Rôg’s horse, landing firmly in the dust beside it. “Are we ready then, Master Carl?” the dwarf whispered, straightening his grey tunic and baldric with an efficient tug, before attempting to relieve the nodding hobbit of some of the burden. Together they sorted through what they had at their disposal, while Rôg slipped to the ground behind them, securing the horse and wrapping his cloak about him as he took in his surroundings. But as Carl and Vrór discussed the merits of each item, divvying up the tools between them, Rôg wandered off. And when at last the hobbit glanced that way again, Dorran happened to be standing just where Rôg had been.

“Ah Mister Dorran, there you are!” Carl said. “If you’ll both just give me a moment,” he muttered half to himself, thrusting the lower portion of a spud bar under his belt so that it hung there like a half drawn sword. Patting his side, he seemed satisfied with the positioning of it, but was at a loss with where to put the small spade head in his other hand.

Soon four of the fellowship had slipped over the edge of the gulley and after a short run, stood at the point where the water had been found, and where Vrór had heard the child’s voice. Wasting no time, they made quick work of enlarging the hole, Dorran and Lindir guarding them as the two others slipped underground as soon as they were able, and when they had quite disappeared from view, the entrance to the hole was carefully covered with the blanket, so that no light could escape.

Once inside a torch was lit, and Carl and Vrór found themselves in a long low ceilinged chamber that was filled ankle deep with cold water. One end of it seemed to follow the dry streambed south, but the other worked its way further down, in toward the center of the camp, and that was the direction the two sloshed hurriedly. Surely, the voice they had heard had carried from a point somewhere along that route.

But as they made their way, their breath echoing down the tall and narrow corridor, the stream grew higher, until it was knee high as they came to a wall of sheer rock that blocked their path. The water turned sharply at the foot of the wall only to tumble into a deep cleft a short distance away. Both the hobbit and the dwarf stood pondering their next move when a loud boom and crisp crackling was heard quite clearly overhead. Vrór lifted the torch as high as he could reach; and the flame of it streamed back showing a small open chink high in the rock wall.

“Good timing, I’ll give us that, but it will take more than a few hours to get through this bulkhead!” the dwarf said gruffly, as he lowered the torch to search the rest of the crevices.

“Yes, I was hoping we might run into more meat and less bone,” Carl sighed, hanging his head at what now seemed an insurmountable obstacle. But as he stared at the depths that washed the foot of the wall, he thought he saw a faint glow appear in the water, and then vanish. Carl thought he must be imagining things, but still he quickly squatted down, so that only his head was bobbing at the surface, and with his hands he felt along the face of the wall. There he found another and much larger chink below the surface of the water, one that he felt he could fit through with some room to spare.

“I’ve found another hole,” he exclaimed. “A larger one…down here at the base!”

Just as Vrór joined him to help assess this route’s potential as well as its danger, they heard a young man's voice. “Look there now, there is something on the other side.”

“I’m going to try to get through,” the hobbit announced as he started breathing deeply – partly to overcome a fear of drowning that had been carefully and methodically instilled in him by his maternal aunt.

“Wait Master Carl,” Vrór reasoned. “We don’t know who or what might be on the other side. If it is the captives, they could have company at the moment. It might not be a good to turn up without listening first.”

Though Carl felt this good advice, he did not at the moment care to think, lest he lose courage for it. So letting the tools drop in the water, he also followed suit, disappearing under its surface. And holding his breath, he found the hole again with his hands.

Pushing himself through, the hobbit almost hit his head as another ridge of rock loomed suddenly before him in the water. Carl began to think perhaps it was impassible, and that the glow had simply been the reflection of the torch Vrór had held. But spinning quickly in the chink so that he was now looking up, he saw the dim silhouette of a figure bend over him on the dry side of the silvery surface, and he remembered Vrór’s words of warning. But he was also out of breath, and as he stared upward, not daring to move, a hand plunged into the water grabbing him hold of him, and he scrambled to his feet, to face a dark, black haired youth.

Last edited by Hilde Bracegirdle; 09-05-2006 at 10:51 AM.
Hilde Bracegirdle is offline  
Old 08-29-2006, 12:54 PM   #148
Child of the 7th Age
Spirit of the Lonely Star
 
Child of the 7th Age's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Posts: 5,135
Child of the 7th Age is a guest of Tom Bombadil.
Aiwendil:

Impatient to be doing something, Aiwendil squatted down on the outskirts of camp, his gangly frame concealed behind the protective cover of a boulder that stood in the midst of a patch of scrub bushes. One time, his heart thudded loudly against his chest as he spied a lone sentry approach close to his hideaway, stop to reconnoiter the surrounding plain, and thankfully ride off into the night.

A ways ahead of him, just over to the right, the istar could glimpse the pens and crude thatched shelters where the animals were kept: mostly horses but with a few donkeys and goats mixed in. Two guards paraded around the enclosures, each with a sword girded at his waist. Aiwendil gave little heed to their gleeming blades, since these should pose no real threat. But peering more intently, the old man noted a menacing longbow and quiver of sharp arrows flung over the back of one of the men. It was only at this moment that he considered the risk that such a weapon posed.

Aiwendil gritted his teeth in frustration and grunted to himself. Rôg would need to be careful. An arrow aimed straight and true could prove to be more than an inconvenience. He hoped his friend would remember that. The young man would hopefully approach the camp in such a way that his attack would come before the guard would even be aware of his presence.

For one moment, the istar considered the possibility of slipping into another guise and personally taking out the watchman with the bow, thus lessening the danger to his friend. Since his return from Harad, the old man had quietly reclaimed an increasing number of his skills. Although inferior in knowledge and standing in many areas, Aiwendil had long been known for his superior skill in shifting shapes even among those who lived across the sea. Thr brown robed wizard felt his skin tingle in anticipation. Tired of waiting and eager to be moving forward, he would have welcomed such a change.

But with the return of his skills had come other lessons--hints of important messages that Manwe had imparted to him before his departure on the ship. There were still many things hidden from his view, dreams and portents that made absolutely no sense, but one message had come through very clearly. He was to teach and encourage others to act rather than focusing attention on himself. Aiwendil quickly dismissed the idea of singlehandedly attacking the guard carrying the bow. He would trust in Rôg's judgment. The boy had not let him down on other occasions.

Still, he had a role to play, and it wouldn't hurt to help Rôg along a bit. The two men had orignally agreed that Aiwendil would let off the great thunderclaps after the animals had scattered to create even more of a ruckus. The wizard had little native command of fire, but his cousin Olorin had taught him how to make the powder and pack it into tubes, capable of being lit and whizzing off into the night. Since Aiwendil had never displayed great interest in the arts of war, these brightly colored flaming rockets were more for show than inflicting any real damage. But right now a little show of light and noise might accomplish a great deal. And if he could set the fuse off before the cat attacked, that fellow with the bow might be momentarily diverted.

The wizard spotted the cat padding softly towards the camp. He tried once to speak to the creature and issue a mental warning. But the animal's maw was covered with blood, its eyes bright and gleeming. The cat was part of another world to which Aiwendil was denied entrance, at least for the moment. He would have to rely on the flaming sticks.

After the horseman had retreated, the old man skittled forward with a surprising show of dexterity. Half crouching and hidden beneath the folds of his robe, he made his way to the camp, slipping from boulder to boulder, sometimes lying flat in the dirt. Oddly enough, his mind operated in two directions at once. Mainly, he was thinking about Rôg and hoping that he could create a diversion before the attack began. But the rest of his brain was focusing on something totally different: the earth that lay beneath his body. He could see and smell the top layer of soil, tired and despoiled. Even the destruction of the Ring could not bring immediate life to a land that had been so abused. But, unlike men whose knowledge is limited to what lies on the surface, Aiwendil had the advantage that he could reach down and marvel in the richness of what lay underneath. There were great riches here if only they could be nurtured and tended. His cousin had been good at seeing and nurturing the goodness in men and elves. That was harder for Aiwendil. But the tending and nurturing of green growing things and the creatures who made their homes there was something he instinctively understood. He reminded himself to speak with Carl, who would surely appreciate the treasure he had discovered.

It was not long until Aiwendil managed to slip up to camp. He did not directly approach the animal pens but remained behind the scraggly pile of branches and twigs that were used to light the fire for cooking. The wizard glanced back to be sure that the cat was about to strike. It would do no good to set off the rockets and draw attention to this part of the camp unless the other attack occurred at the same time. Confident that he was not too early, Aiwendil drew out the tubes and the firelighting sticks that Gandalf had shown him how to make. He placed a few tubes on the woody pile and others on the bare ground. The first should start a sizable blaze; the second soar forth into the heavens. Aiwendil wondered if Carl had heard tales from his older kinsmen about the great displays Gandalf had put on in the Shire. This would not be so bold or beautiful but it would serve his purpose. He bent over and struck the firestick against the flint stone and then placed the burning stick beside the powder tubes. Then he leapt up and ran back as fast as he was able, taking up his position outside of camp, as he waited for the sticks to catch light and explode.

Last edited by Child of the 7th Age; 08-29-2006 at 01:52 PM.
Child of the 7th Age is offline  
Old 08-29-2006, 01:50 PM   #149
piosenniel
Desultory Dwimmerlaik
 
piosenniel's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: Pickin' flowers with Bill the Cat.....
Posts: 7,791
piosenniel is a guest of Tom Bombadil.
The cat’s ears twitched, picking up the subtle crackling sound of the sticks as they began to burn. He picked his way closer to where the horses were picketed, chuffing as predator does when the prey is scented. The horses’ ears had begun to pick up the sounds of his approach, and he could hear them stamping nervously on the packed dirt. A few whickered, anxious at the unfamiliar sounds.

In the moonlight he slipped quickly along the length of their enclosure, a thing of thinly braided rope strung between staves pounded into the ground. Low to the ground, his ghostly outline rippled behind the scrubby bushes and sparse grasses. A passing phantom.

He was upwind of the horses now, his own strong scent and that of the fresh blood on his jowls went reeking down the night breezes toward them. Their whinnies grew loud, a rising panic taking hold of the small herd.

Some of the fireworks Aiwendil had set were beginning to blaze. The guards near the horses went rushing toward the obvious source of the horses’ growing frenzy. The cat rushed toward the nearest animals, yowling like some devilish beast bent on butchering them all.

As he drew nearer, he leapt, closing the distance between him and them. Claws extended he landed within striking range. A number of the horses reared up as if to strike out at him with their forelegs; others ran raggedly in circles seeking escape. He struck out, though not at the animals but at the rope enclosure, his claws snaring it and bringing a section of it down.

It was all he could do to scramble out of harm’s way as the frantic beasts ran at and nearly over him. There were cries from the nearby men as they sought to capture and hold back the rampage. Some were trampled on as they tried to drive the horses back. One came near enough to the cat to strike out at him with his blade, but it was only the flat that knocked hard against his left shoulder. The cat hissed and screamed with anger at the blow and raked the man’s arm with his razored claws, causing the man to turn and run.

The horses needed little encouragement to run from the fire and the fell beast. As they did so, the cat ran after them, yowling at them and striking a glancing blow here and there to tender hindquarters if they faltered or slowed. Behind him, he could hear the hiss and pop and bang of more fireworks...the growing yells of the men as they sought to organize themselves in the midst of this growing disaster.

One of them, the bowman, had managed to gather his wits about him. Against the explosions of sound and light he could do nothing. They blinded him with their intensity and he could not be sure that if he loosed an arrow in their direction that it would not bring down one of his own companions. He turned his back, instead, to the blinding lights and sought out the figure of the cat as it raced back and forth behind the horses, driving them on and scattering them. The man set his stance and took careful aim at the low running beast in the distance.

The shaft flew true . . . and save for the fractious pony who kicked out to the side at the cat as he ran along side him, it would perhaps have proved a deadly dart. Instead, it grazed a long furrow along the side of the cat.

The cat screamed in fury and in pain. His task accomplished - the horses in frenzied disarray, as were their owners, many of whom were running pell mell behind their mounts in an effort to catch them – the cat left off his pursuit to seek the safety of some nearby rocky outcroppings. His side felt as if it were on fire from the blasted arrow, and his shoulder had begun to ache fiercely where the man had struck him with the flat of his blade . . .

Last edited by piosenniel; 08-30-2006 at 03:25 AM.
piosenniel is offline  
Old 08-29-2006, 03:23 PM   #150
Durelin
Estelo dagnir, Melo ring
 
Durelin's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2002
Posts: 3,121
Durelin is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.Durelin is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.
Adnan

Adnan spent the rest of the night huddled up as far from anyone else in the camp that he could brave in the dark. He shuddered, even though the night was barely even cool. He found himself unable to control the shivering for several hours, until he finally fell back into some kind of rest soon after dawn. He woke with a start around mid-afternoon, his head filled with scattered images of dreams, from vivid to blurred, but all stark reminders, each in their own way, of what he had done.

He had even seen their faces. Not the enemy, not the monsters from the East, swollen from their riches, covered in gold. He had seen the children, a boy and a girl. Only having a vague idea of who they were, he could not consciously picture their faces, and yet they seemed clear as day in his dreams. They screamed and cried, but mostly screamed, and something forced Adnan’s ear to listen to them closely, so he wouldn’t miss a breath they took. He kept counting the rushing of air, the movements of their chests, and the pauses between each lasted an eternity, as he hoped and prayed that they would keep breathing.

They had been so close to freedom…they had tasted it for months. Both were most likely around his own age…he knew all of the younger members of the group were getting use to the idea of being free of chains and orders and new scars on their backs. It wasn’t exactly difficult to leave those things behind, even if it was impossible to forget them. He had heard a few others talking about all the things they planned on getting away with as soon as the traveling came to an end. They would have a home, maybe even their own bedroom. There could be secrets, mischief, play, and adventures. They may be thirteen, fourteen, fifteen years old, but they had not had the chance play hide and go seek before, or tag, or to go on a treasure hunt, to pretend a stick was a sword and a vine a crown…. They had never been allowed to venture into their own world. It had always been one world, the real world, that never went away, except perhaps in their dreams…if they had any.

They were all so close to freedom forever, and he had all but betrayed them. It felt like a cruel, selfish exchange – his freedom for theirs. But he had not agreed to it…he hadn’t…he would never…

But could he give it up, now that he had it? Even for others? How many would fit the price? Just five people, or ten, or fifty? How many would he let go before he would give up his own freedom?

Forcing himself up, Adnan listened to his stomach growl and twist around itself, looking for something to fill it. He had lived much longer without a bite to eat. Perhaps these months had softened him. It seemed so, if he could fall asleep without any thought for how dangerous closing his eyes could be…

“Like anyone else, you deserve another chance.”

Another chance…another chance? Chances were just another narrow escape from failure, from death. How many times did one barely escape with their life without even knowing it was at risk? Just another close call, another chance…

“But please, just don't mess up again. I won't be around to defend you every time you make an error.”

“Pick it up, boy. You’ll need it, and you’ll use it well…”

“You’ve got the third watch tonight.”


Just another chance for him to fail.

For the rest of the afternoon Adnan wandered from spot to spot, trying to evade any contact with anyone as best he could. He watched some of the others, and most often found his eyes drawn toward one of the younger members of the group: the one called Hadith. The strange looking one. A man from the South that did not look like any of his people that Adnan had seen. He was not from the East, was he? The fifteen-year-old felt something ignite in his stomach: hatred. It had mixed with jealousy and sent up a spark. Out of guilt, the young man pushed the feelings down.

How did he do it? Adnan had heard by now…this eighteen-year-old had taken down one of those golden monsters. He had knocked it off of a horse! Recalling the confusion when he awoke to the rumble of hooves, the sounds of battle, screams of terror, the Haradrim boy could feel himself starting to freeze up with fear again.

To think he had the third watch again. No, he couldn’t do it…

How could he?

That evening came Adnan’s chance to find out. Hadith was alone, sharpening the Easterling blade he had received from his kill with a small whetstone, most likely admiring the way it shined, how beautifully adorned its handle was… Feeling jealousy rise up again, Adnan did his best to ignore it as he approached Hadith. He tried to keep his face clear of any feelings, which resulted in a mix of them warring on his face. Mostly he appeared troubled, which indeed he was.

“How,” he started without waiting for the man to look up, and then choking on his words. He forced a swallow before continuing. “How did you…do it? How’d you…kill him, bring him down?”

The person he could not look in the eyes at the moment, who sat right before him, was only a few years older than himself. What could one learn in just three years? Could one even learn bravery?
Durelin is offline  
Old 09-01-2006, 11:41 PM   #151
Brinniel
Reflection of Darkness
 
Brinniel's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2002
Location: Polishing the stars. Well, somebody has to do it; they're looking a little bit dull.
Posts: 2,897
Brinniel is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.Brinniel is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.Brinniel is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.
Darkness approached swiftly as Shae trudged through the dirt. The moon shone brightly, giving Shae enough light to see her path. She shivered as the cool air brushed against her skin.

Then, suddenly, a silhouette in the distance caused her stop in her tracks. A horse and its rider. Instinctively, Shae crouched behind the brush. Then slowly, she crawled towards the figure for a better look. As the face took shape, Shae realized the rider was one of the slavers.

Shades.

She couldn't help but curse. Most likely there were more nearby. The slavers had been watching them. But why? Did they plan to capture even more ex-slaves tonight? It did not matter. Shae had left the camp and she would not return until she accomplished her mission. But first she would have to take care of this man. Quietly.

Shae kept her good eye on the slaver as she picked up a small rock. The man hadn't noticed her yet. Without further thought, Shae threw the rock, aiming it into the brush slightly left of the slaver. The slaver's head instantly snapped towards the direction of the sound. And as Shae expected, the man dismounted his horse and searched for the source of the sudden noise.

This was her chance. Shae unsheathed one of her throwing daggers, steadying it in her right hand. Her target was moving further away.

I need to get closer.

Straightening from her crouch, Shae stepped one....two....three - too quickly. On the third step, Shae's foot slid on the rocks beneath her, kicking several small pebbles into a large rock. Instantly, the slaver turned in her direction, and before Shae could think, she threw her dagger at the man. The weapon only grazed his arm as he charged towards the woman. Shae drew her other dagger, but it was too late. Before she knew it, she was on the ground, the weapon flying from her hand. Shae struggled as the slaver's large hands wrapped tightly around her neck, and her hand groped for her precious dagger. Instead, she found another rock, slightly larger than the size of her hand. Gripping it tightly, Shae thrusted the object into the side of the slaver's head. Instantly, the pressure on her throat disappeared as the man's hands moved towards his head. Using all her strength, Shae brought the rock down upon him one last time and the slaver fell to his side.

The woman rubbed her sore throat as she stood up. The glimmer of her dagger caught her eye, and she picked it up. Glimpsing at the man, she could see the subtle rise and fall of his chest. Staring back at the dagger, Shae gave a deep sigh. What she had just done was a dangerous move for both herself and the others. She could take no risks. Kneeling down beside the slaver, Shae used her small weapon to slit his throat. Instantly, the breathing ceased. As she wiped the blood from her blade, Shae's eye caught the glint of her second dagger, she went over to pick it up as well.

Sheathing both weapons, Shae turned towards the slaver's horse. Surprisingly, the creature had not moved during the struggle. Well trained indeed.

In the process of terminating her first obstacle, Shae had gained a faster way to reach the camp. Nevertheless, the woman still felt uneasy. Shae had not ridden a horse since she was a little girl, before the days of slavery when she lived with her family in Gondor. She couldn't help but wonder if she would even be able to stay on the horse- the horse whose rider she had just killed. Shae approached the creature slowly, and place her hands near the muzzle. He sniffed her hands curiously, then seemed to lose interest. Stepping to the side, Shae patted his neck then climbed up the horse's back. Even with the saddle underneath her and the reins in hand, Shae felt uneasy sitting so high. Memories of her childhood rushed back into her head. Taking a deep breath, Shae kicked into the horse's sides, and instantly they took off into a gallop, Shae's knuckles white against the reins.
Brinniel is offline  
Old 09-02-2006, 09:46 AM   #152
Tevildo
Shade of Carn Dûm
 
Tevildo's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: Curled up on Melko's lap
Posts: 425
Tevildo has just left Hobbiton.
Azhar:

As the minutes and hours dragged by, the young girl had remained locked within her dreams, seemingly unable to try and escape. Kwell’s gentle attempts to bathe her with a few precious handfuls of water had met with scant success. Her skin burned hot with fever, her eyes open and staring outward but registering nothing.

Though unable to speak or move, Azhar still drifted from one nightmare to the next. Her tangled dreams were filled with images of prisons and bars and the sensation of being held back against her will. Sometimes these were actual physical restraints; more often she had the feeling that she was being trapped inside her mind and that she would go mad unless a path opened up to allow her to push down all the barriers and somehow reach the other side.

She had no idea what was on the other side of that barrier. But in all her years of captivity in Nurn, she had never felt such an intense desire to throw everything behind and claim some fragment of herself that had always been denied. Her body shuddered and gently swayed side to side under the sharp reality of her unmet need. Yet all the while this was going on, she could see and hear things that were taking place about her, even though she could not communicate anything to anyone.

Her heart sank down to her toes as she sensed Kwell trying to help her and afterwards sitting off by himself, alone and despondent. She could even make out the small hole that unexpectedly appeared at the back of the tunnel and the bright eyes that shone through the tiny opening. Part of her accepted that image as a given. She already knew this. Their rescuers were coming. But at the exact instant of that sweet revelation, Azhar’s mind was assaulted by yet another sensation, this one far more insistent than the first.

A great cat sat beside her, first motionless, then snarling and springing forward towards its prey. She should have been afraid of such a fierce creature, but she was not. The cat belonged here. There was a natural goodness in its fierce presence that she could not deny. Rather than fearing its wildness and instinctively drawing back, Azhar found herself strangely attracted to the beast, wanting to share its experience. She tried and tried to do something to break through to the beast, but a tiny warning bell sounded inside her head that this was not to be her way.

Then, out of nowhere, came a great explosion. Glittering flecks of fire and light were spilled out into the heavens, the display visible even through the prisoners' grate. Outside all was chaos. Inside Azhar lay in a silent heap, quiet and unmoving.

Last edited by Tevildo; 09-03-2006 at 12:50 PM.
Tevildo is offline  
Old 09-02-2006, 10:09 AM   #153
Child of the 7th Age
Spirit of the Lonely Star
 
Child of the 7th Age's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Posts: 5,135
Child of the 7th Age is a guest of Tom Bombadil.
Lindir:

Lindir waited until Vrór and Carl disappeared inside the bowels of the earth and then helped fasten a blanket over the hole to conceal the glow from the torch. Leaving Dorran to stand guard on the lower edge of the creek, Lindir crawled up the bank and, staying low to the ground, gazed intently at the surrounding plain to make sure that no one could see them. After determining that no guard stood on duty near the stream bed, the Elf whispered a hurried thanks to the Lady, asking that she who had fashioned the Moon and Sun and who still watched over Middle-earth would bless their endeavors this starry night.

The Elf's relief, however, was short lived. Within a few moments of the Dwarf and Hobbit climbing into the tunnel, a single sentry had come into view, riding along the perimeter of camp. Lindir had ducked his head into the thick brush and motioned to Dorran to stay alert, afraid that their group might be seen. Hopefully, the lone guard would suspect nothing and simply move on. The rider had stopped and squinted in one direction and then the other, but had quickly turned away and, to Lindir's relief, began to ride off in the opposite direction.

While a blanket may be an excellent means to mask the light of a torch, it is less effective in muffling the sounds of a hobbit and a dwarf who must slosh hurriedly through knee deep water carrying a spade head and other essential metal tools. Although both Carl and Vrór were extremely adroit on land, neither had any particular experience with underground rushing streams, yet that was the situation they now found themselves in. Despite their lowered voices and the fact that they had ventured a good ways down the tunnel, every now and then the water splashed and broke against the earthen walls. The sentry on guard had neither the wits or the ears to detect this faint difference in the sound of the stream. But a passing owl perched on a nearby boulder, who had flown down to drink from the water, had immediately detected the difference and begun to hoot out a warning to any of his own kind venturing by, alerting them that something unusual was afoot.

Lindir could do nothing to silence the bird. He had watched in dismay as a look of suspicion passed over the face of the rider who had then swung back to inspect the steam bed. The horseman had called out into the darkness and, within a minute, two more mounted guards had appeared, rushing up to aid the first. There was no place Lindir could hide, and there was no time to retreat down the hole, which might otherwise have provided some shelter. The patches of grass and the stream bank itself did not offer real cover: both Dorran and Lindir were clearly visible to the slavers. The first rider took one look at the Elf and, spitting out a curse, spurred his horse forward, his sword raised menacingly over his head. Even worse, the second placed a great horn to his lips, prepared to give a mighty blast to arouse the entire camp. Lindir watched in horror and turned to face the blow, wondering how they could prevail against some twenty-five men. Dorran ran up beside him with his sword, thrusting out but falling short in a valiant attempt to stop the slaver with the horn.

Yet at that instant, a great explosion reverberated through the skies so that the notes of the horn drifted harmlessly away, unable to be detected more than a few feet distant. Dorran and Lindir turned to face their attackers, each wondering if Rôg or Aiwendil could be responsible for this turn of events.

Last edited by Child of the 7th Age; 09-04-2006 at 03:02 AM.
Child of the 7th Age is offline  
Old 09-02-2006, 07:40 PM   #154
Firefoot
Illusionary Holbytla
 
Firefoot's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 7,646
Firefoot has been trapped in the Barrow!
As night fell, Grask had found himself once more creeping closer and closer to the slavers’ camp, drawn by an insatiable curiosity of the strange creatures called Men. It would be a while yet before the camp quieted enough for the Orcs to make their raid, but Grask saw no reason why he couldn’t wait here just as well as farther away – so long as they didn’t catch him.

Then suddenly, many things seemed to happen at once. From somewhere nearby there came a loud bang that spooked Grask badly, and when he turned to look he saw bright colored lights exploding in the night. They seared his eyes and he blinked in pain, immediately turning away. At the same time a monstrous snarling cat leapt out of nowhere into the Mannish camp, scaring the horses so that they reared and whinnied, some breaking off into the night.

Grask ran. He started to sprint off away from the mountain cat, then realized he was heading straight for the blazing lights. He changed direction, crashing through the snarled brush to come nearly head to head with a bolting horse. The flailing hooves came dangerously close to his head, but he ducked his head and dashed on mindlessly –

– and found himself flat on his face, wind knocked out of him. Had he been able to breathe properly, he might have gone on running, but as it was he lifted himself up slowly and looked around to find what he had tripped over.

A body. Grask recoiled as if he had been struck, then slowly drew closer once more. A Man’s body, but dead, Grask realized: the throat was sliced cleanly through. This was no Orc’s work: too neat. Who, then?

Grask did not dwell on this question long. Instead, he set about exploring the Man’s body, running his hands over the strangely smooth and soft skin and examining his clothes, which fit him remarkably better than Grask’s own patched-together tunic and was made of uniformly-woven cloth. Next came the pockets. Grask found a couple of silver coins, the like of which he had seen once before, though he didn’t remember where. He pocketed these for himself. There was also some flint, which Grask left. The Man also had a bow and a quiver of arrows on his back and a knife at his belt. With some difficulty, Grask managed to remove the knife and sheath and placed them on his own belt. Now he had two knives. Already the demon-cat, whose screams were fading away, did not seem nearly so frightening, and the devilish explosions were simply lights and noise, after all. Or so he thought - until a great one lit up the sky with a bang, emblazoning itself in Grask's sight. He cowered back into the brush. Not until they stopped would Grask be going back to the Men's camp. Not him.

Last edited by Firefoot; 09-03-2006 at 01:57 PM.
Firefoot is offline  
Old 09-03-2006, 03:31 PM   #155
Nogrod
Flame of the Ainulindalë
 
Nogrod's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Wearing rat's coat, crowskin, crossed staves in a field behaving as the wind behaves
Posts: 9,051
Nogrod has passed beneath the Argonath.Nogrod has passed beneath the Argonath.Nogrod has passed beneath the Argonath.Nogrod has passed beneath the Argonath.Nogrod has passed beneath the Argonath.Nogrod has passed beneath the Argonath.
Send a message via MSN to Nogrod
Hadith

Beloan had sent a friend of his, one of the original escapees, to replace Hadith on the watch over the hill sometime before noon. Hadith had seen a lonely rider riding northwards some couple of miles east from him during the morning hours. Besides that it had been dull and uneventful: just the plains and the hills, the dry grass suffering under the hot sun everywhere. The chirping of the crickets had been the only sound he had heard besides the occasional breeze of the wind. Everything, the heat, the quietness, had been oppressive.

Back in the camp of the slaves Hadith soon realised that nothing had been decided. He was disappointed but didn’t show it to Beloan to whom he reported after his duty. He had eaten something and helped Khala and Cuáran washing the wounds of an older man and changing his bandages. Seeing the cut on the man’s side and actually washing and tying it, Hadith had realised that they were not able to leave at the instant. That didn’t prevent him from getting frustrated about the situation. They were free now, but all this felt like they were intentionally waiting to be taken back to slavery, robbed of their newly acquired freedom. We’re like sheep who break free from the fence and then stop at the edge of the nearby forest, waiting to be captured again.

Hadith was idling, sharpening his beautiful Easterling knife for want of anything more reasonable to do, as Adnan approached him. He had seen the younger lad from far away and noticed his hesitation but had decided to ignore him. But at last Adnan had braved to come to Hadith and asked him: “How,... how did you…do it? How’d you…kill him, bring him down?”

Hadith didn’t consider Adnan very highly. On the contrary. One who falls asleep on guard should be despised by all. That was his opinion of Adnan. But his question had cut deep into the ponderings of Hadith. It had penetrated his own insecurity and baffledness about all that was happening in this newly acquired freedom and all that it meant. The question overwhelmed him and pushed his distaste for Adnan to the background. The insecurity of Adnan’s voice and the vulnerability of his whole demeanour reminded him of himself too strongly to just despise him. So instead of scorning him, Hadith raised his face to meet Adnan and gestured him to sit down beside him, sheathing the knife after wiping it clean to the sleeve of his skirt.

“So how?” Hadith began but paused for a while, looking at the younger boy absentmindedly, immersed in his own memories of last night. “Well, I just threw my blade... and then he fell. The others did the rest, clubbing him to death.” Hadith fell silent again, staring at the ground between his feet.

“How did you have the courage? Weren’t you afraid?”, Adnan asked Hadith sincerely.

“What do you think? Sure I was afraid!” Hadith snapped to Adnan. “I was scared like Barad-Dûr!” Hadith managed to smile thinly to Adnan but then his expression got serious again. He thought of the last night, thinking it out aloud.

“I remember it... I remember it quite vividly. After I woke up to the attack I decided that I would have to do something... Then there was the dog that attacked the girl... It jumped on me and threw myself down... I remember the warm blood splashing over my face and chest.” With that Hadith touched the front his shirt with his fingers. The stains of blood had already stiffened and hardened the fabric.

“Then the sound of the hooves started to draw closer again... they were closing in... The Easterling appeared from the darkness, shifting his lance towards me just a couple of feet away... I don’t know... I just ducked down and only felt the horse running over me as I had closed my eyes. But then I just... well, I turned around and saw the rider riding away from me. I just threw my blade to him.” Hadith was silent for a while picking small stones from the ground and dropping them down again.

“There were all kinds of noises there, but I still remember the sound of the knife hitting his back and the yell he made with the impact”, Hadith raised his eyes and looked straight at Adnan who was listening to him in awe. “That was the most terrible thing I have ever heard... I’ve seen him fall from his horse a hundred times after that... Everytime I close my eyes I see it... I took a closer look at him after he had been beaten to death. He was a young guy like you and me.” Hadith fell quiet again but Adnan dared not to break the silence even though he was baffled by his words.

“Yeah, he would have taken us captive and robbed us of our freedom. Sure he would have. It’s better he’s dead than we are slaves again, but still that doesn’t settle the things with me. The thought doesn’t help here...” Adnan looked downwards and so did Hadith. They were quiet, both in their own thoughts. After a while Hadith broke the silence, coming back to the initial question to escape his present thoughts.

“So how did I do it?” Hadith said, raising his head to meet the eyes of Adnan reacting to him speak again. “When I was a child, my father told me that everyone is scared, even the great heroes are. But what differentiates good men from spineless cowards is that the good men ignore their fear. They think of something else than just themselves at the moment of peril. Maybe that’s the way to overcome fear, not to think only of yourself?”

The realisation of the origins of these ideas hit Hadith hard. Yes, that was his father speaking! He had not remembered these things in years, but here he was; his father speaking to him when he had been very young indeed. He remembered now the expression his father had had beside his bed in the barracks long time ago.

Tears started flowing from Hadith’s eyes and soon he was crying openly. Adnan was looking at the older boy in confusion. Hadith sniffed and wiped the tears dry with his left hand. “Sorry about this. Just old memories...” But then he bursted to tears again. He was missing his father and mother. Where were they and why had they been taken away from him? Hadith felt more alone in this world he had ever felt. Cold vibrations shooked his body as he cried out to his anguish.

Last edited by Nogrod; 09-05-2006 at 05:25 AM.
Nogrod is offline  
Old 09-03-2006, 04:26 PM   #156
Durelin
Estelo dagnir, Melo ring
 
Durelin's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2002
Posts: 3,121
Durelin is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.Durelin is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.
Adnan

Adnan felt increasingly awkward as he watched Hadith fall into sadness, but he also felt his respect for the young man increasing. This man was more like himself than the fifteen year old ever would have thought. And he was even stronger than he had thought. The idea that Hadith had not been afraid, and so had acted with his wits about him, was impressive, but somehow, it filled Adnan with more awe to think that the young man had been afraid, and still had been able to take the Easterling down.

“Maybe that’s the way to overcome fear, not to think only of yourself?”

“Not to think only of yourself…”

Those words came especially as a sharp bite of pain, right into Adnan’s chest. They came across as accusatory to a still guilty conscience. Had he been thinking of himself when he fell asleep on duty? Had he been thinking of anything? This man probably blamed him, though. They probably all did, even when they smiled at him. Their kindness was forced, because there was no escaping that it was his fault. He would never get away from it. How could he change that?

Adnan looked away, looking to the ground as the other young man began to cry. He did not feel that Hadith’s tears were wrong or shameful, he just could not face the man; he could never face anyone in grief. He did not know how to share in their sadness, he did not know how to give them any comfort. Perhaps part of his confusion and inability was because he had never received comfort himself. He had never blamed anyone for it, though, and he hoped Hadith didn’t blame him for it now.

He had to do something, though. He could not just sit here…like he had fallen asleep.

“Your father was…he was wise,” Adnan forced out, stumbling over his thoughts and thus his words. He was not good with words. It took him some time to put thoughts into them, and even a simple word like ‘wise’ felt strange to him. It was difficult to put such a description into one word. “And…so are you,” he said, his words sharp and sudden as he forced them out, though utterly sincere. He gave a sharp nod at the end of his words before rising to leave Hadith to his grief.

Last edited by Durelin; 09-04-2006 at 05:22 PM.
Durelin is offline  
Old 09-03-2006, 04:36 PM   #157
Durelin
Estelo dagnir, Melo ring
 
Durelin's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2002
Posts: 3,121
Durelin is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.Durelin is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.
Khamir

Making a quick round of the camp as the night crept up on them all, the group still licking their wounds, physical and of another kind, Khamir felt worry anger growing slowly inside him, tightening its grip. He should have looked for Shae long before now, and gotten over his stupid pride. He should have known something important, something dangerous, was up. It had always been impossible for the one-armed man to understand that woman. He had often wondered what kind of pain manifested itself in the cuts on her hands. He had never said a word about them to anyone, much less her, but he knew they were there on purpose. But what purpose, he would never know, and he would never have to. To him, pain was pain.

He asked over and over if anyone had seen Shae, each time requiring a quicker answer as he lost any patience had had begun with. That fool woman…she was insane! What was that – bravery or madness? Should Khamir admire her, or fear for her…or both? Part of him did admire her, and the rest of him was a mix of emotions related to just how crazy the woman was. In some ways he wanted to laugh, and in others he felt sick with worry. And he was jealous: she had beat him to the glory. The glory…it was worthless out here, if it was worth anything anywhere; why did he still feel he needed it?

There was really no question where Shae had gone. She always made her displeasure obvious, and this time she had clearly been displeased with just about everything Khamir had done recently and proposed to do. She had gone back. She had gone after them. The bold, thickheaded, defiant woman. Sometimes one had to wonder if she had a death wish. By the cuts on her hands, one might definitely think so, but Khamir did not. She was a survivor. At least, she had always been…

His teeth gritted, he marched through the campsite to find one of the few people he still trusted. He so wanted to trust Shae. He had so many times before, and maybe he still did, even though his brain told him it was foolish, dangerous. To the rest of him, it felt right that he should trust her, no matter where that might lead him. Maybe he simply needed to trust in her and her abilities, trust that she was still alive. Catching Beloan’s eye upon finding him, the man followed Khamir a few paces away from others.

“She really is gone,” the, perhaps former, gang leader whispered.

Beloan let out a pained sigh, and then silently stared at his companion, as if waiting for something.

Khamir did not notice, staring at the ground beneath him. “I am such a fool,” he muttered.

The other man snuck a smile, the one-armed man still looking down. “It is too late for blaming yourself, or anyone.”

Too late…they were all running out of time. Either direction they chose to go, the time they had to make their decision was rapidly growing shorter. Perhaps it had already ran out, and they were now living on luck, trying fate. But Khamir could not feel afraid.

“We have to act before dawn, as long before it as we can manage. Tell the others, and pick… No, we will tell everyone. We will ask for those who can, who wish, to volunteer. We need a party to go after the bounty hunters, to rescue the children, and to find Shae… And we need others, everyone, to be prepared to guard the camp. If you’d like to head the latter group…” Khamir trailed off, as Beloan was already shaking his head.

“No, I go with you,” he said simply. He knew, before any talk of parties, what group the one-armed Southron intended to be a part of.
Durelin is offline  
Old 09-03-2006, 09:44 PM   #158
Undómë
Shade of Carn Dûm
 
Undómë's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 400
Undómë has just left Hobbiton.
Mazhg, Zagra, & Ungolt


There had been magics in the Dark Land, before the mountain fell in on itself and the Dark Lord himself fled. Mazhg remembered well the fiery flashes of fell light and the sounds as if the ground itself were rent apart. Those who were compelled to live in that foul land would hide themselves away at these occurrences, fearing the Great Eye’s baneful gaze might fall on them. And what poor life that was their piteous lot would be snatched from them, or worse, be made a thousand times more wretched.

She and Zagra had made their way to a spot close to the slavers’ camp. They were spying on the men, waiting for an opportunity to creep into the supply tent once more and make off with what they could. Ungolt was with them, and it was she and Mazhg who were peering over the top of the slagheap, watching for the men to relax their lookout. Zagra was huddled just a few feet below them, waiting patiently for instruction.

Of a sudden, the sky was filled with bright light and loud booms! and sizzling crackles. And a little ways from their vantage point, the slavers’ horses had become increasingly agitated and distressed and were madly trying to flee the commotion. Ungolt slid a little ways down the pebbly slope and hunkered down with Zagra. The two of them hissed at Mazhg to hide herself away until the fell sorcery had run its course.

And Mazhg, for her part, was well-disposed to do so. The movement of the cat, though, had caught her eye. And it was as if the beast moved in concert with the tumult of lights and noises, stirring up the men and horses from his side as the sorcerous lights and sounds did from their side. She watched him as he harried the herd, his intention it seemed not to slay one of them, but simply to make them run wild. It seemed odd to her that he did not cut one from the group and run them to ground.

She saw the archer loose his arrow and the barbed shaft cut alongside the cat’s flank. Pushing aside the fear of the lights and explosions, she watched as he fled to the cover of a rocky heap only a little ways away from where she and her sister and Ungolt were hidden.

‘Ssst!’ Zagra hissed at her, grasping Mazhg by the ankle to pull her down toward the little hollow where she and Ungolt crouched. ‘What are you doing, Mazhg? Come down quick!’ she whispered in a frightened voice.

A shiver of dread mixed with wonder shook Mazhg as she slipped down to her companions.

‘What did you see?’ Zagra spoke low as she hugged her sister close.

Last edited by Undómë; 09-05-2006 at 02:52 AM.
Undómë is offline  
Old 09-04-2006, 04:16 PM   #159
Folwren
Messenger of Hope
 
Folwren's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Location: In a tiny, insignificant little town in one of the many States.
Posts: 5,228
Folwren is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.Folwren is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.
A great crackling blast startled Kwell out of his hopeless attitude. He stood up onto his knees, his eyes wide with surprise and excitement. His heart thumped furiously against his ribs. A flash of light showed from outside like some strange fork of lightning. Then, muffled and what sounded like in the distance, came the frantic neighing and terrified screaming of the horses. Kwell could hear the dull sound of hoof-beats in the ground, getting fainter and fainter until they faded altogether.

But those sounds were forgotten in a moment as Kwell’s ears, listening so hard that they hurt, nearly leaped from the side of his head as he heard a splashing and a bubbling noise from the back of the prison where the water came in. He turned his head and looked. The water slackened a moment, as though stopped up with a cork and then came again full force, but something had come through with it.

Kwell scrambled as quickly as he could over to the wall. He looked hard, and in the dim light – what! It had to be his imagination – those two, large, very wide eyes looking up at him and a face white and pale in the water. He stretched out his hand to see, expecting to meet with nothing but cold water and stone. His fingers closed on the cloth of a collar and the thing beneath him was really of flesh and blood. He pulled up sharply, but it was hardly necessary, for as soon as his hand touched him, the figure moved and struggled up to his feet.

Kwell moved back quickly, and even on his knees he was surprised to find that he looked the strange person right in the eye. He was no taller than a small child.

“Wha- what?” he asked slowly, completely at a loss of words and thought. “What are you doing here?” he finally gasped out.
Folwren is offline  
Old 09-04-2006, 04:33 PM   #160
Durelin
Estelo dagnir, Melo ring
 
Durelin's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2002
Posts: 3,121
Durelin is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.Durelin is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.
Vrór

Vrór had been convinced that he had been responsible for securing the death of the entire Fellowship of the Fourth Age when he and Carl first came upon the obstacle they had not anticipated in their tunnel. It was thick and rocky, and most likely partly supported the tunnel – even if they could bring it down, they did not want to risk it. For several moments, it was if all the dirt and rock surrounding the Dwarf and Hobbit were pressing in on them, and would soon suffocate the two. They were trapped. They all were, not just the two in the tunnel.

But then Carl cried out. Vrór felt his heart could have burst with shock from the cry, but the Hobbit had good news for them: he had found a way to get through. But that way meant going in blind. He would have to actually submerge himself in the creek, and swim under the rock to reach whatever lay beyond. They hoped only the captives would be waiting for them, but there was no way to be sure. Vrór voiced his concern and cautioned Carl, but before the Dwarf could do a thing the Hobbit had plunged into the dark water, into the unknown.

Vrór swallowed, his eyes wide, taking in Carl’s bravery and finding it difficult to absorb. The Dwarf started to reach for his axe, having stuffed his tools in his belt again, and he drew the weapon to hold it along with the torch. Should he follow him? Would the Hobbit bring the captives back if he found them? Would the captives be able to make it? Would Vrór even be able to make it to the other side if he needed to?

He certainly wasn’t interested in swimming, or trying to fit through tight spaces, and managing both at once seemed near impossible for him.

The Dwarf strained his ears, his body rigidly still, listening, waiting for any sign that Carl had made it, somehow, to the other side. The moments of silence dragged on too long for Vrór’s liking, and then he heard some splashing he thought was separate from the usual sounds of the creek.

“Carl,” he said with a whisper. “Carl?” he repeated as much louder as he could risk.

His ears attuned to any sounds around him, he noticed something strange about the sounds coming from the outside of the cave. He could hear a voice, and it was neither Lindir’s nor Dorran’s.

“Carl?” he muttered frantically.

His last attempt was swallowed up by a huge explosion, which resulted in dirt and dust dislodging itself from the roof and sides of the tunnel. Vrór did his best to muffle a few coughs. Now he was completely disoriented. Behind him, their guards had been found, and before him, a wall of stone and earth blocked his path and his vision, and he had lost his companion to behind that obstacle. And somewhere nearby, something had exploded! Were the others alright? Or were they the source of that literally ground-shaking event?

Did the enemy know they were underground? Were they trying to collapse the tunnel?!

He had to get out of here…

But he could not abandon Carl, even if he went to the aid of Dorran and the Elf. Those two could hold their own, he was certain, but against how many men? Should he stay here and guard Carl’s back should the two fall? Or…should he take the plunge?

If there were someone waiting for him and Carl in the pit, then the Hobbit would need help much more than Lindir and Dorran did. Having balanced the torch in between edges of rock that poked out from the wall of the tunnel, he took off his belt and his boots, glad that he had chosen not to wear his mail. Leaving behind his hammer was painful, but he knew it had to be done. He would not risk leaving his axe behind, though. He might need it.

After taking a deep breath and one last attempt to calm his nerves, Vrór had to all but convince himself that there was a mob of Orcs behind him ready to gut him in order for him to plunge into the water, his hands immediately searching for the hole. He pushed himself through, his legs kicking, and splashing more water than he should have. Already he had forgotten to keep things quite above the surface of the water. Wriggling his way around, unable to breath, everything dark and murky, with frigid water all around him, he had some trouble telling up from down. He felt panic tighten in his throat, which only made his body want to breath normally all the more. But he tried to keep his focus, not wanting to panic.

For a moment he seemed trapped again, and for a second he was convinced he would have a watery grave. There had to be a way out! He frantically searched around him, wide-eyed, even though the water discomforted his eyes. Then there was a gleam of something, somewhere above him, and he forced himself up toward it. Water found its way into anywhere…and he had only to follow it out. He hoped.

Straining his lungs a few more seconds, he broke the surface of the water, emerging on to solid ground almost immediately. He spluttered a bit, and shook his head back and forth to throw the water from him. It was hopeless, as his mass of hair and beard was of course completely soaked. Then, remembering suddenly where he was, Vrór raised his axe and peered ahead of him, wiping water from his eyes with his other hand.

The sight before him gladdened him, and brought a smile to his face, but he stopped himself from letting out a laugh. There was Carl, wet but safe, and another, a boy. Scanning the rest of the pit, though, his grin was wiped from his face when he saw a girl lying nearby, still as death. For a moment his heart was seized with fear, and the emotion loosened its grip only slightly after he looked closely and saw the rising and falling of her chest.

Realizing how difficult the situation was, and how tricky it would be to try and get all four of them back the way they came, Vrór would have felt embarrassed in any other situation. But now he was just too frightened. And he knew there was no time for explanations, for excuses.

Climbing out slowly and carefully, taking things an inch at a time, not wanting to make any noise, he attempted to try and stay near the ‘entrance’ back into the tunnel, and kept himself hunched over to remain under small outcroppings around it, though he also tried to move closer to Carl.

“Do you think they can make it back the way we came?” he whispered. He glanced at the girl in particular, though he also noted the boy’s youth with great pain.

Could any of them make it back that way?

“Dorran and Lindir have run in to some trouble, I think, but…I’d say we have a better chance of it out there than…” he gestured up above them, knowing no more explanation was needed. Luckily, after tackling that struggle with water, Vrór was feeling a little more certain that he would in some way get out of this mess alive. And he knew he would make sure the others did…somehow.

Last edited by Durelin; 09-04-2006 at 04:43 PM.
Durelin is offline  
 

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -6. The time now is 01:21 AM.



Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.9 Beta 4
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.