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Old 02-06-2004, 07:40 PM   #1
Orual
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Sting Defense of the Poros RPG

The sun crept slowly to meet the horizon, peering out over a grey morning and a bleak landscape. Captain Anhelm, Commander of the Poros Settlement, was already up to greet it. Dressed in his uniform, his sword sheathed and set carefully on the desk in front of him, Anhelm shivered a little and looked out of the window. He stood up and grabbed his cloak from a hook on the wall of his modest office, and went out into what was the beginnings of his village.

"Morning, Captain," a young soldier said amiably, touching his forehead in respect. He glanced at Anhelm's cloak, and his smile slipped. "You might not need that," he said, a touch of gloom entering his voice. "It's warm again today, and Telpe says not to hope for a cold wind any time soon."

Anhelm laughed, then smiled. "Take what Telpe says with a grain of salt," he suggested. "She is no more an expert on the climate here than you or I. We may get a reprieve from the heat yet." The young man smiled gratefully, touched his forehead again, and left.

"Good morning, Uncle Anhelm!" cried a young girl, running up to him. Her brown pigtails trailed out behind her, and she had a string of white winter flowers in her hand that would be made into either a necklace or a circlet. Her name was Mavi, short for Vidumavi. She was his only niece, and he loved her dearly.

"Good morning, love!" Anhelm replied, picking her up and giving her a kiss right on the top of her head. "How are you? And where are your shoes? Don't your feet hurt?"

Mavi laughed and wiggled her way to being put down. "Telpe says that she's got some tea and soup for you for breakfast, and she sent me to tell you. And my feet don't hurt. I'm like the Wild Men! I don't need shoes." She pulled a fierce face and, making her hands like claws, growled at her uncle.

Anhelm smiled. "You're a tough one, all right. I bet I could pick you up by the toes and your hair wouldn't get mussed. Let's see!" He grabbed her by the waist and tickled her until she shrieked, and at that point he put her down and kissed her on the nose. "Run along..."

She did, and Anhelm went and gathered the feel of the morning, which was fairly like the last few mornings: tense. A settlement right near the Harad Road was not the safest place, especially in these uneasy times. The Haradrim were getting uneasy, egged on, some said, by darker forces, though Anhelm was hard pressed to believe it. He was a practical man, who believed in more or less only what he could see. Some vague "darker forces" were not enough to make him nervous.

But the Haradrim did make him nervous. His father was bound to bed because of them, never to walk again; his people could not let their children stray far from the settlement proper because of them. How could he not be nervous? He was in charge of this settlement; all of these lives were in his hands.

"Captain?" An older soldier came up to him. "I have some reports from the scouts. Would you like to come read them?"

Anhelm took a deep breath. It was time to start his day; brooding would not stop the Haradrim. Only action would. He nodded. "Lead on."
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Old 02-06-2004, 09:47 PM   #2
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Sting

A small mote of dust on the horizon at morning turned into a churning cloud by midday as a company of lancers approached the border outpost of Harnen Crossing. They formed the forward contingent of the Army of Harnen that would be moving through the area within the week. Just before reaching the town they broke formation and quickly began to bivouac on the sandy plain. A small group rode ahead of the main mass and stopped at the southern picket where the garrison commander greeted them.

Lan’kâsh raised his hand in salute and invited the company leader, a young captain, to the comfort of his headquarters. Walking together, the two made small talk until they reached a two-storied brick building overlooking the river just to the north. Once inside, Lan’kâsh commanded a shirtless slave to bring refreshment, and the two officers sat down on a shaded balcony where a cool breeze blew in from the surface of the water. The slave brought tea and fresh fruit, as well as a plate of various meat delicacies, and then moved to a corner where he stood in silence.

The captain drank the tea without speaking for several minutes, looking across the river at the rising hills and the occasional tree.

“Not a tree in sight for the last 50 leagues,” he grumbled, holding his cup out for more tea. The servant rushed forward and filled it. “I do so like trees but seldom get to enjoy them. It seems the few forests we do have near the city shall all be cut down by the shipwrights soon.”

Lan’kâsh held his silence. Though he had much more experience than the young captain, he knew that he must continue to show him the proper respect. The rank of lieutenant was an embarrassment to wear, but he knew that he was fortunate to wear any rank at all.

“Over there,” the captain pointed north to the hills, “are miles and miles of forest.” He smiled and took another sip from his cup. “Forests for the shipwrights.”

Lan’kâsh nodded and waited for the captain to continue. Hopefully he did not go on about the forests.

“As you know, we intend to cross the Harnen tomorrow when the rest of the division gets closer, so I thought I’d ride ahead to have you gather your men to fall in.”

Lan’kâsh finally spoke. “Fall in, sir?.”

The young captain smiled a crooked smile and answered, “Yes, of course. Did you think you would be staying here while we rode through?” He did not give the lieutenant time to answer,a nd snickered, “As of this moment the border is sealed, and since this is no longer the ‘front’, your services and those of the rest of this border patrol are required in the real army.”

Though he had began their meeting with civility, the captain had quickly changed his tone to one of condescension. Being from a good (and rich) family, the young officer falsely assumed that the dirty looking lieutenant was the unlucky son of a merchant or maybe the rare man that had rose from the ranks. But he never considered that the man in front of him had dealt out more death than he had ever yet imagined. Lan’kâsh looked up quickly and caught the captain in a cold stare that lasted only as long as it took him to imagine running his spear through the foolish youngster’s throat, long enough for the captain to wonder if he had made a mistake in taunting the odd, dark skinned lieutenant.

The moment passed, and with a long outward breath Lan’kâsh let his anger pass and said quietly, “It will be our pleasure to join the invasion of Harondor.”

“Yes,” said the captain uncertainly, “Yes, you shall be joining us. Muster your men outside this building first thing tomorrow morning.”

Lan’kâsh stood to salute, but the sudden move startled the captain so that he nearly dropped his teacup. The young officer stood quickly, returned the salute sloppily, and retreated down the stairs, deciding that he had definitely made a mistake with the real army comment. The look in the lieutenant’s eyes had sent shivers down his spine, and he wanted to distance himself as quickly as possible.

As the captain’s footsteps thumped down to the first floor, the lieutenant sat back down and held his cup up. The slave filled it and sat down heavily in the seat the captain had recently vacated. He was smiling from ear to ear.

“That one ain’t gunna last long, ‘tenant,” he said, showing a gap-toothed grin. The slave snatched the captain’s cup and filled it for himself.

“No his isn’t,” said Lan’kâsh laughing, “but we are, sergeant Benel. Get our things ready and pass the message along to muster in the morning.”

“Yes sir,” said the slave, standing and giving a snappy salute. He snatched his jacket from where it hung on a hook and put it on. “I’ll take care of it right away, sir.”

Lan’kâsh looked across the river where trees were throwing long shadows in the late day sun.

“Look out Gondor, here we come.”

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Old 02-06-2004, 10:48 PM   #3
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Tolkien

Jinan swaggered down the dirt road of the outpost of the Harnen Crossing, kicking at tufts of dying weeds ( As if it could be called a road , he thought, remembering the mighty cities of Harad). Dust clung to the golden fringe that lined his scarlet sash, and his black leather boots were scuffed from hard traveling. A simple wooden bow was slung across his back, while his hand rested casually upon a gem studded dagger.

Another man passed him, paused, scrutinized him and called out eagerly, “Jinan, good friend of mine!”

The lad paused in mid-stride, and turned to looked at the man who so called out to him. He was but a few years older than Jinan, and was a shipmate upon a corsair vessel. A friend I am to you, but you are no friend of mine , he thought, resentfully remembering old rivalries of the past. A toothless smile carved itself upon Jinan’s face and he said, “How goes it with you…friend…well or ill?”

“Ill,” the corsair said glumly as he shook a leather pouch absently. The faint tinkle of coins reached Jinan’s ear.

“Monetary troubles I take it. I’ve always said you shouldn’t gamble,” Jinan said evenly, eyeing the money bag with a cocked eyebrow.

“I hear ye’re in the army,” the man said, hastily changing the subject and hooking the bag onto his belt. “I also hear rumours that you can’t fight worth beings and that you’re only in because of your father’s money,” the man added with a leer.

The smile vanished from Jinan’s face. It was true that he could not handle a dagger well, but naturally the rumours had ignored his skills with a bow and arrows. “Don’t believe everything you hear, friend,” Jinan said coldly, patting the corsair upon the shoulder. “Until we meet again.” It was the only possible way to get rid of the fellow politely.

With a farewell nod, the corsair continued on his way, leaving Jinan behind. A soft chuckle escaped him as he tossed the bag of money in his hand. Slipping the dagger back into its sheath, he whispered, “No skill with a dagger, eh? Obviously enough to relieve you of your money.” He grinned as he imagined the shock and horror when the corsair discovered his money gone and his inability to pay his debts. “Never trust to rumours, friend.”

Tossing the bag at the feet of some passing priests, Jinan made his way to the young captain of his brigade. Entering the headquarters, he paused when the captian said absently, “We’re transferring you, Jinan. There is going to be a small expedition against the Poros to drive the Gondorians away --”

The voice of the officer droned on, while Jinan’s face broke into a wide grin. An attack upon Gondor! Finally the rats would know who was master. They transferring him which naturally meant that he would be the captain of the expedition and…

“…and you will be under the command of a Lieutenant Lan’kâsh.”

Jinan’s jaw dropped slightly and he shook his head, his black hair falling into his eyes. “You mean, I’m not going to lead this attack?” he asked with a forced laugh.

“Responsibility must be earned, not given,” the captian said. “You’ll find him at the building over looking the river.”

Jinan stumbled through the door, his thoughts a surging turmoil of anger and confusion. Turning, his brows meeting in a jagged frown, he glowered at the captain’s office. Obviously the captain didn’t know quality when he saw it. With a snort, he swung upon his heel and soon found the building. Climbing the wooden balcony, he saw Lan’kâsh sipping a bit of tea and nibbling at some fruit. So this was the lieutenant who was to command him. This thin distant man who probably didn’t even know the word battle. As Jinan stared at him and Lan’kâsh lifted his eyes into those of the younger man’s, a chill passed through him.

Shaking himself, Jinan said, “I have been transferred to your authority, sir.” Putting his own thoughts of resentment behind him, he flashed a toothless smile at the man who was to be his superior officer.
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Old 02-07-2004, 04:35 AM   #4
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Silmaril

The red sun rose into the light blue sky of the morning. Adenain stretched out his worn muscles as he lay on the sweet-smelling grass. He breathed in deeply as he stared up at the sky, his mind beginning to wander. He thought of Minas Tirith, and his mother who had remained behind. He wondered how she was and what she was doing at this exact moment. It was almost as if he could see her. Around this time of the morning she would be rushing around the house, gathering up parcels of healing herbs and tools. She would then be off, rushing through the busy streets so that she could go to the main healer’s cabinet and drop off the fresh herbs before making her rounds around the Houses of Healing, and taking care of her patients.

As the man lay on the ground, his long body spread out in an awkward-looking, but very comfortable position, he heard the sound of the flute being played behind him. The sound of it was sweet and gentle, and moved the hearts of all who heard it. Rolling over on to his stomach, and propping himself up on his elbows, Adenain looked up at as his younger sister, Annemal, who was playing the beautiful sounding flute, with affection and pride. He had been the one who had taught her to play that when she was only five years of age.

Annemal played on as she reached her brother and sat next to him. Slowly she drew near to the end of the final verse; in her heart she longed to play more for her brother, who had done so much for her, and who now looked very sad, though she did not know the reason for this. The young woman finished her song then, and lowered the flute from her lips. Adenain turned around back onto his back and then sat up, looking over the beautiful view that could be seen from where their small house stood.

“You should be getting to your post should you not, brother?” asked Annemal in her quite and musical voice.

“Yes,” he replied, “I must report in to Captain Anhelm today for his instructions.”

“Come along then, and I’ll fix you some bread and butter with some goat’s milk before you go,” she said, smiling to him, pulling herself up, with him in tow, “While I’m doing that you can go and change into your uniform.”

Thirty minutes later Adenain exited their house dressed in his uniform of the Guard, with his sword and two knives hanging at his sise, and his bow and arrows strapped to his back. He walked calmly, a slight skip in his firm footsteps, to request his orders for the day from his commander, Captain Anhelm.
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Old 02-07-2004, 04:49 AM   #5
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Shield

Standing at the window of his new home Astalder looked east to watch the sunrise over the distant looming mountains of Ephel Dúath, as he did every morning since they arrive at the small settlement they planned to call home. The dawn's first rays painted the sky in pale hues of orangey red and to him the mountains seemed dark and ominous against that back drop.

"Red sky at morning, Soldiers warning!" he frowned remembering the Gondorian proverb, But his frown faded as he felt the loving arms of his wife wrap around his waist.

"Isn't it beautiful?" she sighed contentedly. looking again, but not so far a field, he saw that she was right, the river glistened in the soft glow, the open grasslands swayed in the dawn breeze and the new buildings of the settlement gave the feel of a quiet sleepy village. But even as he turned away several of the sleepy houses opened their door and in a few hours the village would be alive with the bustle of people going about their daily chores. As he turned he took his wife into his arms and kissed her tenderly.

"Now what was that for?" she grinned as he released her.

"Does a husband need a reason to show his affection and gratitude!" he laughed.

"Indeed not" she replied with a laugh of her own.

"Now you best be getting dressed or you will be late!" she smiled, then turned and went down stairs to finish preparing breakfast. With a contented smile he quickly washed and dressed, then lifting his belt and sword he made his way down stairs to join his family for breakfast.

"Papa!" an excited voice cried as he entered the kitchen, putting aside his sword he was assailed by his young fair headed son.

"Good morning little one" he smiled down at the child.

"Captain Falmir!" His son exclaimed pulling away and puffing out his chest proudly.

"A Captain eh! Well good morning Captain Falmir" he saluted playfully.

"At ease soldier!" Falmir laughed then threw himself into his fathers arms, laughing Astalder threw the boy onto his shoulders and circled the large wooden table in the centre of the room, pretending to be the lads mount. But on their third pass they were blocked by the smiling face of Fëawyn.

"It's time for my brave soldiers to eat their breakfast," she laughed, gently lifting falmir from his fathers shoulders and sitting him at the table. As he took his seat Fëawyn took the kettle from the fire and poured him some tea. "Thank you!" he whispered appreciatively as he listened to all that his son had planed for the day. All too soon breakfast was over and it was time for him to leave. Lifting his sword he buckled it about his waist and pulled on his boots.

"I will see you both tonight" he said, kissing his wife's cheek, "And you my young captain, keep out of trouble and help your mother!" he grinned with a wink, then lifting his saddle bags from the hook by the door and went to the stable to retrieve his horse. They had arrived in the village just over a month ago but he was due leave and he took it so as to help with the building of their cottage and the stables and paddocks for Fëawyn's horses. Leading his horse from the stables he looked around pleased at his work. Both his wife and son had made new friends and it was time for him to make sure they remained safe in their new found happiness. Mounting his horse he set out to meet his new captain and begin his new post.

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Old 02-07-2004, 04:17 PM   #6
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Pipe

Frôzhal straightened up as he felt his patience coming to an end. A company had arrived at the headquarters a while ago, and the Haradrim was starting to get curious about it all. He made his way away from the trees, where no longer he was 'protected' from the annoying sun rays, and towards the two storied building. He shivered as he saw Lan’kâsh on the balcony. There was at least one more sitting there, but Frôzhal couldn't see who. This, especially, made him even more curious. The man hesitated for a few moments; what on earth was he doing? Sneaking up on Lan’kâsh? He shook himself, trying to avoid looking any further at the balcony. Again, he straightened up, keeping his mask.

He made his way away from the headquarters. It would certainly not be wise of him to lurk around here, in hope to overhear what was going on, if he wanted to get a better position. What if he was getting a better position? Why else gather at a balcony? Frôzhal frowned by this. A better position, he thought, smiling to himself. A man came running pass him, shaking Frôzhal.

"What are you smiling for?" he asked rudely. Frôzhal despised this man, but couldn't do anything but to answer politely. "I was thinking about... when I am getting promoted," he said, giggling even more. The man broke into an evil laughter, shaking his head so hard that Frôzhal expected to see it fall off from the man's neck, any minute. "Promoted?" he said, gathering himself. Frôzhal nodded.

"Listen up, guys!" the man announced, after a few moments with silence.

Quite a few men, who stood nearby, turned around and looked towards Frôzhal and the man, who was named Ringlâsh. Some of them started to laugh already, even though they didn't know what all this was about. Frôzhal felt uncomfortable about the whole situation he suddenly found himself in. He sighed, as Ringlâsh started off, telling the others that Frôzhal thought he was getting a promotion soon.

There was a roar of laughter. Some laughed so loudly, Ringlâsh had to calm them down before continuing;" So, when do you expect it to happen?" he asked, staring at Frôzhal innocently. Frôzhal grew red, shaking. He didn't want everyone to know that he was getting promoted before he actually had been.

"Calm down guys," he started. "I haven't been promoted, yet" he said, grinning, forgetting that everyone was giggling.

This would be a day to remember for many of them. Such great fun as this was seldom nowadays and most of them knew they would have loads of fun in the time to come, mocking Frôzhal about how naive he was.

"I just want you to know," Frôzhal said, after his long pause. "That you are still my friends even though I climb the ranks," he finished.

Again there was a roar with laughter and Ringlâsh waved Frôzhal off. "See you soon," he said evilly. Frôzhal turned away, being satisfied about how he had managed to make the situation less uncomfortable. His promotion would only mean that he was more in charge, their friendship (Frôzhal believes that is called friendship) would never end.

"Good luck with your promotion!" someone called after him.

Frôzhal was happy they at least supported him, yes; wishing him good luck was a sign of support. A few minutes had passed before he realised that he had been proud. He had been proud when telling the others that he expected to be promoted soon. This was ones biggest mistake. He shook his head, trying to think of a how to make this to something positive. No, it's wasn't possible! This would definitely be his downfall. He huddled together, leaning his back to a huge tree trunk. He was full with regret and his conscience made him shiver. Frôzhal gulped as he saw Jinan come out from the headquarter building about fifty paces away.

Had Jinan been promoted instead of himself?

As this thought struck him, he realised that if Jinan had been promoted, he surely wouldn't. Within a minute's time his dream had been crushed, there was no promotion! He made a grimace, how in the world could Jinan get promoted and not him?

With clenched teeth and determination he stood up, held his head high and wandered off to the headquarters in hope to find out about this... this... Jinan and how he had got a promotion.... This just had to be a promotion, right?

***

doug*platypus' first post

A New Post

A week after returning from the outlying villages, Gimilzôr was summoned to meet his superior. He strode across town to where a headquarters had been set up, in a two-storied brick building overlooking the river to the north. His helmet was off against the heat of the late morning, and his forehead was beaded with sweat before he had walked a furlong. He was tired also, as he seldom was after a restful few days. The signs of oncoming age, he thought to himself sadly. However this only made him set his shoulders resolutely, and quicken his pace. At 34 years, he was still fitter and stronger than most of the men under his command.

Gimilzôr had proved this time and again on their last expedition. His troop had been sent to gather recruits and supplies from villages within the province. Although this duty was not as gruelling as facing an enemy army in battle, there was often resistance. Gimilzôr’s lord demanded that one in every ten men be conscripted to swell the ranks of his army; a demand that many villagers were loath to accept, since it robbed them of their finest blood. But the veteran commander had been greatly successful, and led his men to the border outpost of Harnen Crossing with his head held high.

Walking between tall palms, Gimilzôr reached his destination, stepping through the entrance and out of the heat of the sun. Once inside, he was shown to a small room that served temporarily as an office. His superior sat at a desk, fanned with a large frond by a woman with a light, dusky brown complexion and a downcast face. A cup of deliciously aromatic tea was before him. Gimilzôr saluted, clenched fist clanging against his bronze armour. The captain did not motion for him to sit, preferring to leave a distinction between him and the lower ranking Gimilzôr, despite the mutual respect between them.

“Eleven villages, one hundred and thirty conscripts,” he said matter-of-factly, reading from a parchment in front of him. “Well done. And my personal thanks for… the other tribute you gathered.” He indicated with a wry grin the woman standing nearby.

Gimilzôr smiled as the bonus he expected was pushed across the table to him; a small purse of coins which he took with a slight bow.

“As for your next post,” the young officer continued, “a small expeditionary force will shortly be pushing north towards the forest.” He waved casually behind him, in the direction of the river. “It will be led by an officer called Lan’Kâsh. I want you and your men to march under him. You will be joined by two relatively inexperienced sub-commanders. Jinan and Frôzhal are their names: you would do well to learn them. These two are capable, but ambitious, and may need keeping an eye on.”

At this point another man entered the room, attired also in the fashion of an officer of the Haradrim. He was tall and thin, with swarthy skin, and his hair hung down (in a scruffy manner, thought Gimilzôr) to his shoulders. The captain introduced him as Lan’Kâsh, and he and Gimilzôr saluted then clasped arms in formal military greeting. The man smelled slightly of ale, but that was to be expected in a town such as this between battles. And although he was a little unkempt at the moment, there could be no doubting the man’s experience and vigour in battle. Once Lan’Kâsh had taken a seat, the captain continued to brief Gimilzôr.

“I want you to see that your superior’s orders are carried out. Any northern settlements you find are to be wiped out completely. You have been chosen for your experience in this kind of warfare. Myself, I wouldn’t go near such a lowly assignment. Within the next month I will be leading a strong force across the River Poros to test the strength of Gondor. I expect you both to have completed your mission by then. Then maybe you will have some small share in the glory of Harad. You are dismissed, Gimilzôr.”

“For glory, my lord!” Gimilzôr cried, his eyes lighting up with the promise of battle to come.

The talk of great plans for extending the reach of the Empire had made his heart quicken. Most of his experience had been with small village conflicts, and a part of him strongly desired to be in a great battle against the Men of the West, such as those of old that he had heard tell of, when the Dark Lord himself had led the people of the south into battle. Excited like a brash young soldier, as he had not been for many years, he saluted his superiors once again, turned on his heel and walked out. Without pausing, he left the brick building and headed for his encampment, to ready his men, sharpen his sword, and pray to his gods, so that he might be their tool in bringing death to Gondor.
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Old 02-08-2004, 12:51 PM   #7
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Sting

Khalad beheld the buildings in front of him, reflected slightly in the sun.Riding along with the rest of his company, he held his head high as he clutched his spear and shield.

It looked rather peaceful, and he wondered slightly why he had been sent to this outpost rather than stay in the south where trouble was brewing. But he assumed that the officers had their reasons for sending him so far away from his home.

When he closed his eyes he could almost smell the sea, and hear the noise from it; and if he concentrated, he could summon forth a vision of the white marble house that was his home.

He quickly opened his eyes again though, not wishing to day-dream upon this day. It mattered not if Gondor desired him in Minas Tirith or Poros; he would remain the same, and would not allow anyone to accuse him of neglecting his duties. Though he had to admit, he would rather be in Minas Tirith now than this small settlement.

His left hand let go of the reins and slid down to his belt and although wearing the shield he was able to touch the hilt of his sword. He could feel its scabbard with every pace his mount took, but it felt good to touch it with his fingertips, even if it was the wrong hand.

He smiled a grim smile when thinking upon the few times he had been allowed to draw it with proper reason; to use it in defence of Gondor, and not merely for child's play. He feared though that the only reasons he would have for drawing that blade out here would be to oil it.

An unnecessary precaution, since it was forged by metal that would not perish in such a way; yet after seeing the rusty blades lingering on old battlefields, he felt most comfortable knowing that something protected his blade.

As they finally reached the houses, Khalad dismounted and saluted his officer who went off to report their arrival to the commander. Khalad brought his horse into the stables, and after making sure it was well-tended, he walked outside and took a good look on his new home; he was a soldier of Gondor, and Gondor was the realm he had chosen to defend. And this settlement was a part of that realm.

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Old 02-12-2004, 07:53 AM   #8
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As Astalder rode through the dusty streets of the new settlement he took in every bend and turn and each new building, many of which were in various stages of construction, the village was growing into a friendly community, nearly every person he passed bade him a good morning, the red faced baker, with his tray full of freshly baked breads, the broad framed farrier come blacksmith hammering at an iron shoe on his anvil, the thin middle aged potter wiping his clay stained hands on his apron, before pushing his glasses back up his long nose, Astalder greeted them all with a nod and a smile, But even through the villagers friendly and enthusiastic nature as they went about their morning business he could sense their tension, the odd glance to the river told him that the rumours of stirrings in the south had reach their ears, and that they worried about their position so near to the south road, they knew like he did, if their was to be trouble from the southerners it would undoubtedly pass their way. His warm smile slipped at these thoughts, but returned and he heard a familiar loud and hearty voice, coming from around the next bend.

"No, no, no, man that will never do, do you what my patrons to be knocking themselves unconscious every time they leave, It needs to be higher up... and a little more to the right!"

Astalder grinned as he came upon the settlements inn, 'The Poros Crossing' he read from the sign that a dark haired handyman was repositioning, the deep scowl on the mans face told him that the innkeeper had, had him move the sign several times already. The innkeeper was a tall barrel of a man, his dark hair indiscriminately streaked with grey, an intimidating figure if it where not for the warm and welcoming smile that nearly always adorned the mans rugged features. Astalder knew the man from Minas Tirith, where the man had been a successful wine trader, but as the second son he knew that the family business would never be his and Alstalder was never sure that his old friend had ever wanted the stress and hassle that went with that type of life. But seeing his old friend here and taking the role of the innkeeper of a quite settlement along the Poros, he knew that his suspicions had been right.

"Now! what brings a noted Merchants son from the bustling market place of the White City, to our humble little village?" he laughed as the innkeeper nodded his approval to the man repositioning his sign.

"Astalder!" the man cried in recognition, as he spun round. Astalder almost let out a laugh as he saw the handyman quickly fix the sign to the wall, before the innkeeper had a chance to change his mind, yet again.

"I Heard that you had requested a transfer here, but to be honest I didn't believe it, but here you are!" the innkeeper exclaimed as he strode towards him. Astalder dismounted and the pair embraced, the older man then held him at arms length, "still a Requen? I would have thought you would have made captain by now !" he frowned looking at Astadler's pristine uniform.

"Now, Talfas, you know I will not allow myself to be blinded by ambition, I am happy to serve Gondor in this position, where the skill I have been graced with would better protect our people." He replied modestly. Talfas looked to his friends sword and nodded, he had only once seen the man draw it, but it had seemed to him that the weapon was more an extension of the man's right arm than the cold steel of war.

"It is good to see you my old friend, but I really should not keep my new captain waiting, I will be sure to stop by when duty allows and sample some of your fine ales." he grinned remounting his horse. The innkeeper laughed and watched his friend ride off, before turning his attention back to the sign.

Astalder continued on through the settlement, till he came to a large white stone, official looking building, hitching his horse to a nearby post he dismounted and opened his saddle bags, pulling out the neatly rolled vellum that was his transfer papers. He then stopped a passing guard asking where he could find Captain Anhelm.


"In his office, up there sir," the young guard answered, pointing to the top of some stone stairs, that lead to a smaller building perched upon the stone wall that surrounded the new Poros settlement. Thanking the guard he made his way up the stairs, stopping before the dark wooden door, where he straightened his tunic and adjusted his vambrace's before knocking firmly on the door and awaited an answer from within.
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Old 02-12-2004, 01:42 PM   #9
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Boots

Lan’kâsh emerged from his headquarters building precisely as the first edge of the morning sun breached the sandy horizon. Caught in its bloodstained rays, he looked like a bronze statue of some sinister underworld creature as he stood completely still, breathing in the last breath of the relatively cool night air. The temperature of the land about them was already rising, as if in anticipation of the heated activities to come.

In the increasing light, he could see Sergeant Benel had again efficiently fulfilled his duties. The thirty men assigned to the Harnen Crossing customs station stood at attention in a neat block of non-wavering military bearing. Most of them had originally came to the post thinking they had arrived at a place where the rules would be looser, but Lan’kâsh turned out to be a strict disciplinarian, and over several months he had beaten them into a fairly impressive unit. On this morning, he himself had changed into his good armor and put away the customs official jacket. He noted with satisfaction that none of his men were wearing theirs, either.

Behind his familiar group of soldiers stood an unexpected sight. More than 150 men stood at attention in two distinct groups. The first, nearly 100 swarthy Haradrim, were obviously experienced military fighters. Their armor and weapons were clean and sharp, so much so that growing sunlight glinted brightly off of them. The second group, on the other hand, looked to be nothing more than a convention of dirty farmers holding a variety of weapons, including pitchforks, hatchets, and at least one hoe.

The lieutenant turned to Sgt Benel and asked him quietly, “What are these settlers doing here?”

Sgt Benel, who was not tall, looked up at Lan’kâsh and shrugged. “You’ll have to ask that one over there.

The lieutenant looked up and recognized the scar-faced recruiter from the day before. He motioned for him to come over.

“Gimilzôr,” he said, “These must be the same draftees that you spoke of yesterday in the captain’s office.”

“Yes sir, they are,” answered Gimilzôr with a jack-o-lantern smile, “some of them, at least.”

“And why are they here?”

The scarred man continued grinning. “Along with my men, they are to form your company, lieutenant. It is an honor to serve” He snapped a crisp salute.

Lan’kâsh breathed quietly for several moments, forcing himself to relax. In his lengthy career he had led men of all sorts with a variety of expertise, and in his experience the absolute worst kind of man to have fighting beside you was a man who was untrained. Yesterday, the captain had said he would be given enough men to create an effective scouting force, but he had not been told that he would be anchored with a band of novices that had only recently been pressed into service.

He pointed to the neatly aligned soldiers. “Those men, they look good but can they fight? Have they fought? Or have they spent their careers scaring farmers into the Army?”

Gimilzôr nodded his head and said proudly, “They can fight alright, and they like it.” He pointed to the conscripts, who were now milling around. “And with the right leadership, those new boys will learn to like it, too.”

Lan’kâsh stood quietly again and at last said, “Then we’ll have to choose the right men to lead them. I’m sure there are some among our ranks that would be up to the challenge of putting these new rats into order.”

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Old 02-12-2004, 11:22 PM   #10
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Anhelm ran a weary hand through his hair as he rifled through the scout reports. They did nothing to dispell the unease that had been filtering down the ranks throughout the entire settlement. There was no outright hostility, not yet, but rumours and whispers of discontent among the Haradrim whose lands bordered the small village were everywhere. He could scarcely go out of his office without hearing it from someone, whether it was one of his soldiers, or Telpe the cook, or a merchant's wife. It was even discussed among the young boys of the settlement. The Haradrim were lining up to attack, if the talk in the village was to be believed. No one took the uneasy peace for granted.

He slammed the folders down on his desk and went over to the window, rubbing his face vigorously. The village was going about its day outside, and Anhelm caught a glimpse of Mavi playing with a ball. A smile tried valiently to make its way onto his face, but its efforts were in vain. He could not smile. Perhaps his one alloted smile per day had been spent on Mavi in the morning. He pressed the heels of his hands against his eyes, trying to clear his head.

He leaned against the wall, breathing deeply of the dry, pungent southern air. It smelled slightly of the wood his furniture was made of, slightly of the odd, exotic spices Telpe used in the food, slightly of the old, musty fabric used in his curtains and in his uniform. It was a smell altogether different from anything he had ever inhaled in Minas Tirith, or anywhere in Gondor, but it was not unpleasant. It was strange and exciting. It made him feel alive.

His eye went to his sword, hanging expectantly on the wall, waiting to be picked up. He tugged at the bottom of his shirt, pulled himself up straight, and strode over to it. Reverently he took it off the wall, and held it horizontally. Slowly he unsheathed it until the blade was four or five inches out of the scabbard, and it glinted in the sun. His eyes flicked over to the reports lying on his desk, then back to the sword. "I may need you sooner than I had hoped," he murmured, sheathing the sword and slipping it into his belt.

He started when a knock came at his door. "Come in," he said, tripping as he hurried back to his desk and tried to look official.

A man, probably a few years older than Anhelm, stepped in and snapped to attention. "Here to receive my orders, sir," he said smartly, handing some papers to Anhelm. The young Captain took them and studied them for a moment.

Anhelm could feel the soldier's eyes on him. "Those are my transfer papers, sir," he added. Anhelm looked up at him briefly.

"At ease," Anhelm said, and was surprised to find a grin threatening his solemn demeanor again. He found a leaf of paper hidden among the others, a letter from a friend of his father's.

Anhelm, the letter read,

Congratulations on your new post. Your father is proud of you, as are we all. But you are still young, and more than a little inexperienced. You will need good soldiers to back you up, for your position is perilous.

Astalder is a good soldier. He is older than you, and more experienced than you, and possibly smarter than you. I can't back that last one up, but it's a hunch. He's a solid man, and exactly the one you need. Use him well, and he will be of good use to you. He comes with my highest recommendations.

Hikallaba,
Cpt. Taraphel of the Steward's Guard


Anhelm put the letter down and looked up at Astalder. Finally, a smile broke out onto his face. "Welcome to the Poros settlement, Astalder," he said, stood up, and extended his hand.
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Old 02-14-2004, 07:06 PM   #11
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Tolkien

Jinan buried his face in his pillow, ignoring the sun that now peeped merrily above the mountains. The frown that had arrived yesterday at the knowledge that he was not to lead the expedition to accursed Gondor was still there and it appeared to have no intention of leaving. He drummed his fingers on the edge of his wooden cot, calculating how long he could stay in bed. With a groan he threw the covers off and immediately dressed in his uniform.

Running his fingers through his hair, he strode down the down the street, scuffing tufts of weeds now and then. He passed a group of men who were huddled about a campfire. A tarnished silver pitcher hung from a stick and he smelled an exotic, homely odour. Coffee. With a swift turn of the heel, he said, “Is the coffee ready, men?”

They glanced up at him, then eyed one another reluctantly. “Come, come gents,” Jarlyn said, with an arch of eyebrows. “I’m off to Gondor soon and don’t have time to make such a luxury. You can always make more.”

With a nod, they poured him a wooden cup of coffee. Peering into the cup with one eyebrow raised, he sniffed and then took an experimental sip. Raising his other brow, he said, with a disappointed shake of the head, “This is more like watered mud than coffee, my dear sirs. Should have taken the time to make one myself.” With a small sigh he let the ground have the rest and tossed the wooden mug into the fire. “Oh I’m sorry, mates,” he said apologetically. “One of you should have caught it before it landed in the fire.”

With a smirk, he turned away and sauntered down the path. A company of men soon came into sight, with the man who was to be his superior surveying them. Gimilzôr was with them, with that dead smile of his revealing his yellowed teeth.

Going to Lan’kâsh’s side, Jinan, eyebrows raised, mouth upturned in a smirkish grin, surveyed the motley crew for himself. They had not seen much of war and would probably run at the first sight of Gondor’s winged helmets. He snorted and kicked the dust. So this was the boasting of Harad. A pack of soldiers who dared to call themselves men.

“Then we’ll have to choose the right men to lead them. I’m sure there are some among our ranks that would be up to the challenge of putting these new rats into order,” Lan’kâsh said.

Turning to him, Jinan said, “There are few talented men among us – most them have to put up with amateur rats like these. Happily,” he added with a thin smile, “I am one of those talented officers and I am sure that I could teach them to become a true soldier of Harad…sir.”
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Old 02-17-2004, 12:49 PM   #12
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"Welcome to the Poros settlement, Astalder,"

Astalder took his captains extended hand in a confidently firm, but friendly grip. "It is a pleasure to be here, from what I have seen they have the beginnings of a very fine settlement here," he smiled returning his captains greeting. The young captain had seemed solemn and his eyes for those first few minutes of their meeting had betrayed the weight of his position, but he pretended not to notice. He had to admit to himself that on being told that his new captain was a young man, the concern had been there that he would be facing another ambitious, brash and overconfident young man, but in those first few minutes he had seen that his fears were unfounded, the fact that his position weighed heavily upon him spoke volumes to the experienced soldier, this man thought before acting, an attribute that he believed essential to men of their position.

"Yes, it is coming along well" Anhelm answered with his smile in place and turning towards the window, but Astalder noted the same look he had seen from the settlers as he rode through the village that morning.

"Rumours of stirring have reached their ears and though they hide it well their thoughts are on the lands to the south and their eyes drift oft to the road." he said relaying his observations and guessing the direction of his captains thoughts. Anhelm remained quite for a moment looking out over the settlement and Astalder fear for a moment he had over stepped his position , but just as quickly he pushed his doubt aside, if he was to best serve his captain, his family and the settlers they were sworn to protect, he would have to know if there was any substance to these rumours.

"What news do the scouts bring this day?" he asked after Anhelm had turned confirming that he too had felt the silent tension over the settlers. His Captain looked at him contemplatively for a moment, likely assessing the reason for so blunt a question, "My apologises captain, if I seem rather bold and presumptuous, but it has always served me well, to rely only on facts than to adhere to rumours and hearsay." he offered as way of explanation. Too his relief the young captains smile returned and with a satisfied nod Anhelm gestured for him to take a seat. Pushing his sword aside he did as he was bade sitting down on a dark wooden chair and waiting patiently as Anhelm took his seat and ruffled through a few papers on his desk. If there was trouble brewing this young man would not face it alone, he for one would help if he could and as his wife was always reminding him the men of Gondor were a strong and valiant people and would weather what ever troubles came their way as they had always done and he had faith that if the need arose the people would come to support this young captain.

Astalder focused his attention on his captain listening intently to everything the young man had to say, so he could be better prepared to protect these people.

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Old 02-17-2004, 02:13 PM   #13
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Frôzhal had only just managed to catch up with Jinan the pervious day. The other Haradrim had seemed to be in a hurry, pacing quickly away from the two-storied building. He told Frôzhal, who annoyingly sprang up at his side, about the attack and that he wasn't leading it. Frôzhal had later left Jinan, or rather been waved off, and had the rest of day believed he was going to lead the attack after all. Frôzhal had felt both proud, and sorry for Jinan who was nothing more than a soldier.

Today however, to Frôzhal's disappointment, he had finally realised that it wasn't going to be him, leading the attack after all. As the sun rays found Frôzhal, who was standing among several other Haradrim's watching the new captain, he started blinking, which both annoyed and made Frôzhal frustrated. The Swerting felt so incredibly small where he stood; being annoyed by a yellow circle in the sky and the Haradrim who was going to lead the attack; Lan’kâsh’. Frôzhal shuddered while looking at this respected man. He hid his face in his hands for a few moments, before eyeing Jinan stepping forwards talking to Lan’kâsh’. In mere frustration and jealousy Frôzhal coughed loudly, making everyone look towards him.

"I'm one of those ......Ehm," Frôzhal said loudly, but couldn't quite remember Jinan's exact words. He grew embarrassed and went slightly pink.

"One of those, what?!" Lan’kâsh’ said, eying the pink Haradrim soldier.

Frôzhal trembled with fear, not daring to stare into Lan’kâsh’'s eyes. He took a single step towards the left, where he hopefully was out of Lan’kâsh’ and Jinan's sight. At first it seemed that both Jinan and Lan’kâsh’ were ignoring him and continuing their conversation. But then, after a few moments, Frôzhal found himself standing in the middle. Everyone had backed away, making a huge circle. Now, Frôzhal, who nervously bit his lip, was standing in the middle while Lan’kâsh’ and Jinan approached.

"One of those, what?" Lan’kâsh’ repeated calmly, looking viciously at his 'victim'. Frôzhal froze. Like a stiff mummy, he waited for someone to help him out of this truly horrible situation. Why did he always have to be so stupid? he thought to himself, looking down in the ground. Lan’kâsh’ waited impatiently for an answer. Frôzhal, on the other hand, waited impatiently for a rescuer. When a few moments had passed he figured it was better to say something now, instead of waiting any longer looking like a total twit, standing in the middle of a ring in the sun. He shivered, shrugging.

"I'm one of those..." he started.

Lan’kâsh’ was starting to lose it. One could clearly see it by the way he moved his brows; up and down, furiously.

"I'm one of those loyal soldiers, who will follow you, and... and.." he said, stammering at the end of the sentence. "I will... remain loyal" he said loud and clear, finishing.

Lan’kâsh’ looked oddly at the Hardrim before he grinned. Frôzhal looked with a tense look, trying to figure what the other thought. A grin! he thought joyfully. This had to be a good sign.....

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Old 02-17-2004, 10:34 PM   #14
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"What news do the scouts bring this day?" Astalder asked. Anhelm looked over at him, half startled by the abruptness of the question and half pleased that he thought to ask. "My apologies, captain, if I seem rather bold and presumptuous, but it has always served me well, to relying only facts than to adhere to rumours and hearsay."

Anhelm nodded. "The reports seem like they've been recycled," he said, a touch of weariness creeping into his voice. He stood up, clasped his hands behind his back, and walked over to the window again. "It's the same thing over and over. Whispers. Rumours. The occasional Haradrim youth harrassing soldiers. Nothing bloody, but it compounds. They say someone, or something, or some nobody-knows-what, is trying to aggravate the Haradrim, to convince them to attack us." He laughed bitterly. "I don't think so. They're just annoyed anyway. We've edged in on their territory. There doesn't have to be a higher power involved."

He leaned against the windowsill, pressing his forehead against the cool glass. Astalder was silent behind him, waiting patiently for his captain to say something else. He straightened up and turned back to Astalder. "Everyone is on edge here, Astalder. I know you've felt it--it's impossible not to. And the worst thing is that there's nothing to do about it, because there's nothing tangible that's causing it. We can't fight something that won't let us see it. What can we do? Throw rocks back at the boys who harrass us? We can't make the first move. We've been forbidden to make any moves of aggression."

Anhelm went back to his desk and sat heavily, propping his elbows on the desk and running his hands through his hair, then looked up at Astalder. "There are hard times ahead," he said. "I hope I can count on you to help me through them. I need all the good men I can get."
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Old 02-18-2004, 08:04 PM   #15
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Sting Adenain

The soldier hurried through the streets of the Poros settlement on his way to see the Captain. The sun was beginning to rise further into the sky, as the day went on. The morning was growing older, and the children were now gathered in the strees to play. A wooden ball rolled across his path, and the man barely stopped in time before he tripped over it. Looking down at the ball that was now laying at his feet, Adenain grinned at the child whose it was. He then picked it up and tossed it in the air. "Adenain!" yelled the child in delight, for they all knew the funny soldier who made them laugh with his jokes, "That's mine!"

"Is it now?" the soldier replied, a broad smile on his face. Lazily he tossed the ball once more in the air. Then he handed it back to the small child, and the boy ran away happily to play with his friends.

Adenain smiled to himself and continued on his way, his sword swinging at his side, his bow and arrows strapped to his back. Weaving his way through the already busy marketplace, where woman were selling and buying goods and carts filled the streets, the soldier finally reached his destination. Past the guards and up the stairs he quickly walked; his goal was near. Down a long hallway he went, and then he reached a doorway. On either side of it a guard stood. Straightening his uniform, the man nodded to the guards and opened the door.

Inside he saw Captain Anelm, a worried expression upon is face, and another man talking. Adenain smiled and quickly saluted the officer. "Lieutenan Adenain reporting for duty, sir. What are my orders for the day, Captain?"
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Old 02-19-2004, 04:34 PM   #16
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Aduchil stod in the stables, tending to Palan's mane. Even if there were stableboys to do this job he preferred to do it himself. He had been the owner of Palan for several years now, and ever since he became a Roquen had the horse served as his steed and mount in the few battles he had fought. He touched its head affectionally, smiling as the horse snorted. When he was satisfied with its condition, he checked once more that it had water and hay and then left the stables, heading for the barracks.

He wore no armour, having removed it upon their arrival. They had been dismissed to give them time to adjust to their new surroundings before they became on duty. Yet his sword hung as usual by his waist, and he laid his left hand upon it, the familiar feeling of the hilt of the sword comforting him. A few children ran past him laughing and playing with a ball, and he caught the eyes of a few maidens, yet he took no heed but went straight to the barracks that lay next to the stables.

Once he arrived there he sat down, bringing forth some food that he had taken with him. The ride had been long and the sun hot, and so he refreshed himself, eating first and then afterwards walking outside to the well. After he had had some water and washed the dust of the road away from his face, he decided to take a look at the town. Walking down the main street he almost cleaved the human sea, standing taller than most. He did not attract any curious gazes though, most guessing from the sword he wore that he was a soldier that had just arrived in town. His pouch was full of coins and he bought an apple from an old woman, eating it slowly as he came to the outskirts of the settlement.

He saw a few soldiers and nodded to them in greeting when they like the townsfolk realised he was a soldier like them. So this was the place he was to defend with his life. It was quite different from his home of Pelargir, though the area was akin to that he had lived in when fighting in the border skirmishes against Haradrim. This time though the conditions were better, though the foes were the same. He was not as anxious to wield his sword as he had been in the skirmishes, though, for he realised that this time the lives of others were at stake; not just soldiers whose duty it was to fight, but also commoners who should not be involved in war.

He turned around and walked back to the barracks, finding his bed and lying down. He was not tired, yet did not know what else to do, and the warmth of the sun made him feel sleepy. He reckoned it would be best to be in his best shape when he was to be on duty, and no harm in preparing for that even if he did not yet know when that time was.
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Old 02-20-2004, 07:20 PM   #17
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Welcome to Platoon Leadership

Lan’kâsh looked at the pale, bug-eyed man and grinned as a humorous thought came into his mind. The impertinent youth had obviously intended to volunteer himself for a leadership position, and just as his intent was plain to see, so was his complete unsuitability for the job. Soldiers needed experienced men to follow, and the long nosed fellow in front of him appeared to have barely weathered boot camp.

The lieutenant’s grin tightened into a less jovial line as he turned to address the self-appointed ‘officer’ beside him. “Who are you, and what are you doing in my formation? The short man jumped as Lan’kâsh struck him across the face.

Before Jinan could answer, Lan’kâsh struck him again with a backhand snap of his right hand. Blood splattered from is mouth, and the astonished soldier fell to his knees, unable to keep his balance after the unexpected assault.

“Gimilzôr,” he shouted, looking for the recruiter. He found him still standing at his side. “Is this rat one of yours? He is dressed as a soldier, but he is not standing in the ranks.”

“No sir,” replied Gimilzôr, coolly. “He’s not one of mine.”

“Sergeant Benel,” said Lan’kâsh in a quieter voice. He was overcoming his anger and returning to a semblance of his normal, quiet self. “Do you know this man?”

“Yes sir, I believe I do know who he is,” said the sergeant, kneeling down to look the bleeding man in the eye. “If I am not mistaken, he’s one of the young captain’s men.”

The dark lieutenant looked down at the man he had attacked, considering if he should strike him again. “Are you sure? He doesn’t look like a lancer to me.”

Jinan saw an opportunity, and rose to meet it. “No sir, I’m not a lancer, but I am with the captain.” He drew back to avoid any further blows, but none came, so he continued. “The captain has reassigned me to your company and insisted that I come to you and offer my assistance personally.”

He reached into a pocket and pulled out a crumpled scrap of paper, which Sergeant Benel tore from his fingers and handed to Lan’kâsh. The lieutenant read it carefully and pushed it into his own pocket. He removed his helmet and ran his fingers through his long hair, looking across the road to the motley collection of farmers that Gimilzôr had brought him.

“Another gift from the captain,” he grumbled. “How wonderful.”

He grew quiet and put his helmet back on. After several moments of silence he turned to Gimlizôr with a wicked grin.

“These two men are immediately promoted to Corporal and are each to be given a platoon of 25 of your farmers. Their men will supplement your company. Sergeant Benel will lead the Harnen Crossing platoon, and I, of course, will lead you all.”

He raised his voice so that everyone present could hear him clearly. “Be ready to leave this town at sundown.”

Lan’kâsh turned without another word and walked into his headquarters.

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Old 02-20-2004, 11:47 PM   #18
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Anhelm rose as a young soldier came in. "Lieutenant Adenain reporting for duty, sir. What are my orders for the day, Captain?"

Anhelm looked the young man over. "At ease," he said, and gestured to the seat next to Astalder. "Adenain, Astalder. And the other way around. Get to know each other, because you'll be working closely." He walked around his chair and leaned on it. "Adenain, I was just telling Astalder about our situation here. Here at the Poros settlement we have a delicate balance to keep. It's a dangerous game to play, and one that requires a lot of skill, but I believe that the two of you for sure have the abilities necessary to win. And I say this because there's no alternative to winning here."

He gestured out the window. "That road there? That leads directly to trouble. That leads directly to our enemies. We have a settlement full of men, women, and children. We have a little town that is on the verge of becoming a real place of commerce. We can't afford to lose it. We can't afford to allow the Haradrim to take this settlement."

Adenain looked a little stunned at Anhelm's sudden proclamation, and the young captain smiled. "You asked after your orders, Lieutenant. Your orders are to be at ease and familiarize yourself to the settlement. I want you to get to know this place. Meet the people. Taste the food. I'm not saying that Telpe's food isn't good, but it's military-issue. Eat something that the settlers cook. Buy a shirt." He tossed a small bag of coins at Adenain, then one at Astalder. "I want you to love this place. I want you to want to defend it. Because that's what we're here to do. Defend this place against a very real and very immediate threat." He inclined his head. "Dismissed, men."
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Old 02-22-2004, 05:02 PM   #19
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Captains of the South

Lip twisting slightly into a sneer, Gimilzôr watched his captain’s back recede into the distance. He was left alone with the two commanders who (he thought) had been appointed to serve under the leadership of Lan’kâsh. Neither was very happy about what had just happened, the wily sergeant thought with an inward smirk. Young Jinan had come away from this ‘meeting’ with a bruised face and a split lip, though the marks would not last as long as the lesson in humility he had learned. The other had been treated even more poorly. Gimilzôr was well used to the many hardships of life in the Army of Harad, and he thoroughly approved of how Jinan had been dealt with, but it was another thing to completely ignore a fellow soldier. Especially after he had just proclaimed his loyalty to the captain.

It was clear that at that time, Lan’kâsh had no respect for anyone apart from his precious Sergeant Benel. Gimilzôr cursed them both, but only under his breath. ‘What do I care?’ he thought to himself, and turned to his recruits. He signalled for 25 men to come forward towards each of the commanders. One wiry young man dared to approach him instead, helping another that was leaning on his shoulder in pain.

“O chief,” he stammered at Gimilzôr in the common tongue. Many of the recruits referred to him as such, and he did not discourage it. “My brother… scorpion sting his foot!”

“Aye,” said Gimilzôr, waving the two through as he drummed fingers on the hilt of his broadsword. His mind was on more important matters. “I’ve heard they’ll do that!”

Once enough of his men had come forward (mostly the fitter looking ones that didn’t carry gardening implements; he wanted to make a good impression), Gimilzôr addressed Jinan and the other commander. He was deferential, as he thought they must surely outrank him, even though Lan’kâsh had ‘promoted’ them to only corporal. Gimilzôr tried his best not to laugh at the misfortune of these poor lads.

“Sir! Sir!” he cried to them both. “Your men await your orders.”

“Excellent!” said the taller of the two cheerfully. The shorter, Jinan, surveyed his troops, pointed a threatening finger to stop a largish one in the back row picking his nose, and shook his head in disgust.
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Old 02-22-2004, 05:32 PM   #20
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Tolkien Jinan climbing from the mire of humility

Jinan wiped his lip and spat a bit of blood from his mouth towards the captian’s retreating figure. With a toothless smile, Jinan added another name to his list of revenge -- it was dangerous smacking an officer of Harad as a wench would slap a wayward child. Besides the captain’s fault of thinking he was worthless worm, he had acted immaturely, childishly. He shook his head: quite unfitting for his pretenses as a captain of Harad.

With a disgusted shrug he glanced at Frôzhal. The witless, stuttering, stupid fool. He was incompetent and shy -- it surprised Jinan that the man would have the courage to volunteer himself, much less revel in the fancy that he could lead an army, much less a platoon. His lips morphed from a toothless smile into a dark, brooding scowl as he turned his eyes upon his twenty - five men. He, Jinan, was the captain of twenty-five men who did not deserve the name of soldier. They were an utter disgrace. Twenty-five men! He deserved more than that, he was more capable than that.

“Sir! Sir! Your men await your orders,” Gimilzôr cried to them, a mocking smile hovering about his face.

Sir sir , Jinan mimicked mentally as he glanced at the man’s body of troops. Naturally, he himself was stuck with the loafers --the ones that stood like tired reeds at the bank of a shallow river. The ones who picked their noses and scratched at an itch. He snapped his fingers and pointed at the offending man who was staring, entranced, at the green stuff from his nose. At the snap, he jumped and stuck his finger in his mouth before he dropped his arms rigidly at his side.

Arms folded behind his back, Jinan cried in a penetrating, powerful voice, “You are soldiers of Harad! You are not men pining for sweethearts, yearning for their fields, wishing to hold your children in your arms! You are the men destined to drive the Gondorians from their city, to stamp their vile brood from this land. You have been offered this honour! Honour that you do not deserver, albeit, but honour none the less!” Why should he pamper these weaklings with honey sweetened words? “And because of this honour you shall fight and stand like a soldier! Stand with shoulders back, your back straight, noses in the air! You bow to no man, except to me, and you shall not be defeated!” [I] If all goes well with such imbecilic incompetence [I] he thought. He stifled a smirk: Especially with men like Frôzhal leading you.
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Old 02-22-2004, 05:39 PM   #21
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A puzzled frown crossed Astalder's brow as he caught the pouch Anhelm tossed to him. It was not that he could not see his captains reasoning, but for him it seemed unnecessary, he had been here a month and had already used his free time to get to know some of the people he would be protecting and many he had to admit had made sure they got to know him.

As Anhelm continued he wondered if the young captain was not in some way questioning their loyalties, but he quickly dismissed that thought and rose with Adenain as their captain dismissed them. Still puzzled he saluted his captain and turned to follow the young lieutenant from the room, But as they reached the door he stopped, asking Adenain if he minded waiting for him, the young man seemed somewhat surprised but nodded and without waiting to see if the lieutenant stayed, he turned back to his captain.

Anhelm raised a questioning eyebrow as he set the pouch of coins on the table. "This is not necessary sir! I have already taken the opportunity to get to know many of the people we are here to protect, You and they already have my fealty." he answered evenly.

"I feel that my time could be better spent getting to know our defences and the outlying area and as I am also aware of the importance of getting to know the men we will be serving with I would rather get to know their skills and capabilities, especially if this threat is to become more serious!" he continued, carefully.

"I agree that we must remain non hostile in our tenuous position, but I see no reason why we can not be prepared for any eventuality." he concluded, his steady gaze regarding his captain trying to garter his reaction and hoping he had not overly step the mark.
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Old 02-24-2004, 04:38 PM   #22
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Anhelm was somewhat thrown by Astalder's reaction. He looked at the small money pouch on the desk, and touched it with tentative fingertips. He nodded his head very slightly as he picked up the bag, weighing it in his hand. The worn leather strap that bound it shut brushed his hand.

"I'm glad to hear you say that, Astalder," Anhelm said slowly. "I need your loyalty. It lightens my heart to know that I have it. As you have probably noticed, I'm not exactly an old war veteran." He spread his arms in an open, defenseless gesture. He longed to tell them more, to tell them how helpless he felt, how lost, alone...how he didn't know why he had been given command of the settlement, how from moment to moment he didn't know what to do. How he needed more than their loyalty: he needed their help. But he couldn't tell them that. It might undercut his authority, and even more than their help, he needed his authority.

"I may not be the most experienced soldier around, but I know enough to know that we're in a perilous position. I'm disinclined to keep things from my men, so I'll tell you now that the Haradrim are uneasy with the current situation, if we put the best possible light on the matter, and openly hostile at worst." Anhelm paused for a moment, then pressed on.

"My orders from Gondor are not to engage in any behavior that can be interpreted as aggressive. We've edged in on Harad: it's not necessary for them to be nice to us. If the shoe was on the other foot, we'd be pummelling them into the ground. We have no right to expect anything different. We can't afford to expect anything different. We do, however, have permission to engage in defensive behavior. I must tell you now, I have no great love for the Haradrim." His mouth tightened into a thin, hard line, and his fists clenched as he thought of his father, crippled by the Haradrim. "This means that the first time one of my men is attacked, we will retaliate."

He sat back in his chair, still fingering the little bag. "Do either of you have any questions?"
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Old 02-25-2004, 08:16 PM   #23
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Moving Out

Lan’kâsh emerged from his former headquarters building precisely as the last rays of the sun were absorbed into the western horizon in a great aura of red and yellow. The heat of the day still hung like a woolen blanket on the border town, but a cooler breeze was rising with the approach of night. As expected, Sergeant Benel was in place, along with the Harnen Crossing platoon. A scowling Gimilzôr stood before his own dangerous looking soldiers, and to either side stood the newly formed peasant platoons of Jinan and Frôzhal.

Gimilzôr stepped forward and announced that everyone was prepared to march.

Lan’kâsh scanned the assembled troops for a moment and then said quietly to the man before him, “Gimilzôr, I am glad to have you and your men along on this mission, but not the inclusion of your new recruits, your greens. They are poorly equipped and will likely run at the first sign of the enemy.”

Gimilzôr nodded, grunting an agreement.

Lan'kâsh continued. “Your men, as well as mine, though you think them only merchant patrollers, will see us to victory. But because you bring these settlers, you are responsible for them. Your new corporals are going to need your leadership. They must know that their number one responsibility is to do whatever it takes to have their greens hold the line.”

“Or plug the line,” growled Gimilzôr. “If there is one thing a green is good for, it filling holes in the line."

It was Lan’kâsh’s turn to grunt an agreement. “Have your men put the fear of the Dark Lord in them, because if I see any of them turn in battle, I will crucify them, if they survive.”

He looked at the gathered soldiers again and told Gimilzôr to get them moving.

~ ~ ~

Thirty minutes later, 130 soldiers and 50 new recruits crossed the ancient stone bridge that crossed the river Harnen and marched northward into Harondor.

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Old 02-26-2004, 11:13 AM   #24
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If it wasn't for Jinan's odd looks, which appeared in the man's face every time he looked at Frôzhal, everything was quite okay. Here he was soon crossing a river and having a whole platoon behind him! Wasn't that just great? Frôzhal had truly put all his effort in trying to please and stand up to himself and now Lan'kâsh had given him a platoon. The Haradrim just wanted to jump in the air of happiness, but then another stare from Jinan made him stand still for a moment, before staring back. Jinan't stare was such an empty stare, as if he was angry or upset.. Frôzhal shuddered, meanwhile thinking that Jinan should be happy now, having a platoon and all. He is probably embarrassed that he was smacked by Lan'kâsh, Frôzhal thought to himself, grinning at the man, who immediately turned away as if nothing was at hand. With that attitude, he probably deserved it.

As they walked, Frôzhal being immensely happy about his current position, they finally crossed the bridge. Underneath, the river Harnen's streams rippled, which made the young Haradrim shiver. He didn't like water, especially since his swimming skills were not exactly outstanding. Secondly, the water was so powerful, more powerful than himself. He looked down. He wanted to scream, but in order to restrain himself; he held a firm grip of Jinan, who approached at his side. With clenched teeth, Frôzhal stopped both the platoons in going any further. "Let go of me!" Jinan said, looking slightly evil as a dangerous smile appeared in his face. The other Haradrim didn't listen at once, but was forced too as Jinan made a move to the left, holding Frôzhal by the shoulder, making the man look down and not being able to pull himself upwards. "There," Jinan said, his eyes lit up with fire. He grinned viciously, before continuing: ”Nice view, huh? Can't you just feel the smell of... water?" he said, obviously being aware of Frôzhal's fear of water.

There was silence and none of them said anything. Jinan's firm grip of Frôzhal kept him from doing anything than smile faintly. There was nothing he could do. The other Haradrim was too strong. He hated to admit it, but it was indeed true. He shuddered as he looked down again; not daring to look into Jinan's eyes any longer. Neither did he dare try anything, like swing Jinan around and cast him into the river. No, he didn't stand a chance, whatsoever. All he could do was wait, to be thrown into the river and be humiliated in front of everyone, in front of his own platoon!

He cast a single glance at Jinan, before looking down again. The dark mixed colour of green and blue made Frôzhal sick. He felt the sweat run down his back as he realised that there was no way out. He was going down, in there..... into the water.

****

"We are crossing the river not, standing here, waiting for the river to cross us."

Jinan turned around, still having his firm grip placed at Frôzhal's shoulder. Lan'kâsh voice rang in Frôzhal's ears. Finally, his rescue!

"Just learning my platoon about how we can make rats like this one shiver..... Tremble.... wishing he would never been such a ...."

Frôzhal froze. Was he just called a rat? This was outrages! Jinan had slowly loosened his grip around Frôzhal and this was clearly his opportunity to strike back. Calling me a rat.. Frôzhal cursed to himself. He bent down, smirking satisfyingly, now ready to strike back and make this man regret his words. However, amazingly enough, he was hindered by his own ego. If he was going to impress Lan'kâsh, he would have to lead his platoon over the bridge now; without anymore of these delays. He thought, however, angrily to himself that Jinan would pay. If not now, he would, eventually.

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Old 02-26-2004, 05:38 PM   #25
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Eye Adenain

During the time in which the two men had been talking to one another Adenain had remained still and speechless. Yet, when he heard his Captain say, addressing them both, "Do either of you have any questions?", the young man was brought out of his silence.

Responding quickly, Adenain asked, "My lord, I was wondering if you have sent any search parties or soldiers to keep track of the Hardrim's movements on the borders of our settlement, for I have heard that they have been coming rather close to this settlement within the past week or so?"

Looking down at the bag of coins in his hand and over at the one that Anhelm held in his own hand, he said, "In the matter of this money that you have most graciously given to me, I would like to use part of it to fix my house's roof, if you would not mind, sir, for it has been leaking greatly the past few rains. I will, though return to you the remainder of the money that I do not use, once the job is finished."

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Old 02-27-2004, 05:18 PM   #26
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Jinan

Jinan stared at Frôzhal: he was like a cute puppy with those dancing eyes and the constrained step of excitement that threatened to explode into a jump of delight. And why was he happy? Because he was in command of a platoon: twenty-five men. Besides the fact that he didn’t deserve it, that he didn’t have the backbone for it, but twenty-five men was such a measly number. Could one change the course of a loosing war with twenty-five men? I think not.

A clammy, wet hand, that was very much like a sponge, gripped mine. It reminded me of how a terrified child would cling to his mother’s comforting arms for protection. But why would he be frightened now…they weren’t even in the Gondorians’ territory yet. We were just crossing a bridge that spanned the river. Frôzhal glanced at the river and gulped before he stopped in the middle of the bridge. “Let go of me,” Jinan ordered, but the other Haradrim did not hear him. Suddenly Jinan remembered Frôzhal’s strange aversion to water, and, with a toothless smile, Jinan guessed the source of Frôzhal’s fear.

Gripping his shoulder, Jinan shoved him towards the edge of the bridge and with a twisted smirk said, “Nice view, eh? Can't you just feel the smell of...water?” Do you know what happens to unwanted puppies? The question flitted through his mind only briefly as he felt Frôzhal tremble, glancing first at the water and then at Jinan.

Jinan contemplated whether he should let the little runt sweat some more or whether he should just hurl him over the bridge now and laugh as the puppy gasped for air and paddled to the shore. Just as he was about to heave him over the side (no matter how Jinan phrased it and imagined it in his mind, Frôzhal was too heavy to heave overboard), the Captain’s voice cut through the air.

“We are crossing the river, not waiting for the river to cross us.”

"Just learning my platoon about how we can make rats like this one shiver..... Tremble.... wishing he would never been such a sniveling recreant.”

Jinan hoped that the Captain wouldn’t hold up the march any longer than it had been held up. It wasn’t as if the Gondorians would sit easily in their Poros settlement waiting for the Haradrim to attack. Though idiotic, the Gondorians were no fools.

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Old 02-27-2004, 09:42 PM   #27
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Anhelm nodded to Adenain. "Take however much money you need for repairs. It won't do for a leaky roof to be sheltering the head of one of my men.

"As for your first question, I have men out patrolling the borders, of course, but we don't spend much time outside of the borders. I've sent some men on exploration--there are some out now--scouts and such, to see where the Haradrim are. To see how far they are from the settlement. So far they have--the Haradrim, I mean--they have kept mainly to their own territory, but gradually they've been sending a man, two men, to spy on us in turn."

He stopped, taking a long, hard look at the two men in front of him. They were ready, willing, and not pleased with being cooped up inside the settlement, to all appearances. He bit his lip contemplatively, looked at his desk and willed his fingers to be still--he had been drumming again. Wait, no, he hadn't. He looked up abruptly and realized that someone was knocking on the door. "Come in," he said, a worried frown on his face.

A young man came in, perhaps seventeen. He was a scout, Anhelm knew, and the fastest runner of all the scouts. He looked winded, though. "Report," Anhelm said shortly, standing up in alarm.

"The Haradrim, sir," the scout said breathlessly, gasping for air. "They're on the move. They've left their city, and they might be on the way here."

Anhelm nodded, cracking his knuckles absent-mindedly. He turned to Adenain and Astalder. "This is how it begins, men," he said, his voice low and a little dangerous. The scout looked uneasily at his captain. "One move, one little move, something with ambiguous motivation. No." He slammed his open palms down on the table, causing the scout to jump. "This isn't going to happen. We won't let them catch us off-guard. Suit up. We won't be aggressive, but I will die before I let this settlement be caught unawares. We will be prepared, we will be ready, and if the Haradrim get here, they will be met with an ambush. Until we know for sure if they are coming here, we will just be ready." All of his strength seemed to seep out of him, and he looked down at the table in dismay. He wasn't prepared for this. No one in the settlement was. How did this happen?

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Old 03-05-2004, 03:47 PM   #28
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Khalad was awakened by the noise of his comrades. He opened his eyes and saw them strapping their armour on and buckling their swordbelts. He asked one nearby what was happening, and received a hasty reply: "The enemy is advancing towards us, and all soldiers are to be ready for battle. That is all I know with certainty, the rest is rumour." Aduchil stood up, slightly anxious. They had barely arrived to this place and already it seemed that combat was nigh. He arrayed himself in his armour and then reached for his scabbard, tying it around his waist.

He drew his sword and looked at the engravings, feeling the many years that lay in them. A noble blade, and wielded for a noble cause. That much he knew, though he hoped that this was not the day when the sword would be left without a wielder. He allowed the hilt to touch his forehead briefly before sheathing it again, feeling the blood flow quickly through his veins. With hasty steps he walked into the stables and checked on his stallion; it was possible that the Roqueni was told to fight mounted and if so he had to be ready.

He left the stables and hurried down the main street of the town; the grim faces that the townsfolk had told him that they had also heard, and he could faintly hear the sobbing of a child. His right hand grasped the hilt of his sword as he almost ran down the street, prepared to draw it at moment's notice. Around him he could see his comrades, those whom he would soon fight with and perhaps die with. He could feel the fear of death rising in him; yet he would not allow it to rise.

He silently began reciting the few words and phrases that his father had taught him of the High-Elven Speech. He knew almost nothing of that tongue, yet the alien words made him feel calm and lose his anxiety. He took a deep breath as he prepared himself to wait for whatever happened next.
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Old 03-08-2004, 07:59 AM   #29
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A long line of tired soldier trudged up another in a series of seemingly endless hills. Cold rain fell heavily on their slumping shoulders, and gusts of violent wind pushed at them from all directions. Soaked to the bone and aching in every joint, the men wished for an end to the march and dreamed of drier lands back home. Far to the south, where many of them came from, the lands seldom saw such rainfall, and few among them had experienced the drenching storms of southern Gondor.

At their lead, Lan’kâsh and Gimilzôr rode together, each peering ahead through the falling rain. Except for the horse drawn wagons at the back of the procession, theirs were the only mounts available to the Haradrim invaders. Everyone else suffered on foot, slipping in the ever-deepening mud, some even using his spear as a crutch when the road became particularly steep.

“This is why I have always hated Gondor,” shouted Lan’kâsh above the wind. “Seasonal storms and no horizon.” He pointed to the swaying pines bordering the muddy track and rising away on lofty hills in all direction. “The line of sight is always short in the North, and it is so easy to conceal an ambush in these rolling lands.”

“I have always heard that the lands of the Horsemen are more like our own,” mused Gimilzôr. “But there the lands is covered in high grass instead of shifting sand.”

“I too have heard of that place,” answered Lan’kâsh, standing in his saddle and raising an arm into the air. With an audible sigh of relief, the column of soldiers halted. Skirmishers rushed out to form a protective cordon. “Have you ever been to Rhûn? The land there is also grassy and endless, and their horses pull roaring chariots filled with spearmen and archers.”

Gimilzôr remained silent, and Lan'kâsh changed the subject to the business at hand.

“Seven days now we have been marching in Harondor, and as yet we have seen no sight of northern soldiers. Tonight we can camp in the rain, but tomorrow we will be coming close to the Poros. Captain Anhelm is sure to have word of our presence in these lands, and he will have sent out scouts.”

“Anhelm sir? Is he in charge at the Crossing now?”

“According to our informants at the settlement, he is the leader there.” He gave the signal for the soldiers to make camp near the road. “A capable leader, by all accounts, but he will be timid with his family present. Settlers are always timid.”

He looked back at Jinan and Frôzhal’s weary conscripts and sighed. “There may be battle soon. Today. Tomorrow. Let us hope our settlers have more mettle than theirs.”

He looked up and smiled as the rain suddenly stopped without warning.

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Old 03-08-2004, 05:10 PM   #30
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Astalder

Astalder remained silent as the Captain answered the young Lieutenants questions and he kept his sombre silence as he listened to the scouts report, but his mind was far from idle, he recalling the image of the map he had studied in the white cities libraries before leaving. Strategically their position was a good one with the main roads north east to Ithilien and north west to Pelargir and they also had the protection of the Poros itself, at least the fast rapids to the west, the only way any attacking force from the south was going to get near the settlement was to cross the bridge, or the shallows further up stream. But with out specific layouts and enemy numbers all the scenario's that played in his head were useless.

The crack of knuckles drew him from his contemplative state, and he looked up as his captain began to speak, he studied the young mans expression and demeanour, his voice was low and dangerous, making the young scout a little uneasy, which told him that the men were not used to seeing such emotions from their captain, but as Anhelm went on his words stirred emotions in all of them, the mans spirit and fire burned into each of them, so much so that he almost expected the two men at his side to literally snap their heels and go at once to suit up, the strong compulsion too was within him, but his reserved and contemplative nature kept him grounded.

Just then he noticed a sudden shift in Anhelm's demeanour as glimmer of doubt and dismay seemed to creep into the younger mans down cast eyes. It would not do for the men to witness this lapse or at least he hoped it was a lapse, especially after such a forceful show of fire and determination, acting quickly, before the others could witness this change, he stepped before the young scout drawing his attention away from the captain.

"How come you by this news?" he asked plainly and to the point.

The scout regarded him for a moment then nodded, "The southern boundaries scouting party arrived at the south tower several hours before dawn reporting that they had seen several Haradrim scouting parties, and signs of a large encampment further to the south."

"Watch towers?" he asked now turning his question to his captain, who nodded and shifted through the papers on his desk finally pulling open a large map of the settlement and the surrounding area, "Here! Here and here!" he said pointing to three small X's marked on the map, each at least 50 miles from the settlement, east, south and west.

As he leaned over the map he heard and felt the other two men close in for a closer look. Nodding his head in contemplation an idea formed in his head, picking up on his train of thought Adenain asked the scout what position the scouts had given for the Haradrim camp.

"At least three day's south-east of the south tower and five from the east tower, sir." the young man answered looked between the three older men slightly bemused.

"You think they will strike the towers first?" Adenain questioned, "Yes! that is if they are indeed heading this way!"

"The towers they are wooden are they not?" he asked again addressing the scout, the lad nodded that they were so, "I...I...don't understand?" he frowned throwing a bemused look to his captain, But Anhelm was smiling, having already guessed the Requen's plan.

"Beacons!" he answered in way of explanation for the young scout.

"Yes! If the Haradrim attack the towers, which I am sure they will, if indeed their intent is hostile, we can have the watch torch the towers giving us some advance warning!" Astalder said giving his idea words.

"But it has taken me a day and a half to get here the Haradrim will be upon the first tower before you can get word to them!" the scout flustered.

"You have not seen the knights of the white city ride, have you lad or you would not doubt that we could get to them in time!" he grinned confidently.

"Captain, let me take a few riders south to instruct the tower and assess the situation?" he said turning back to his captain and awaiting the man's assent.
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Old 03-09-2004, 06:14 PM   #31
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Tolkien Jinan

Jinan absently pried the dried mud that had slowly accumulated onto his clothes from days of travel and hindering showers; with equal absentness and melancholy, stagnant amusement, flicked the pieces into the fire where they disintegrated into ash with a satisfying hiss from the flames that ate them.

Beside him, huddled like a child in a weathered blanket, crouched Frôzhal. Ever since that trivial incident on the bridge, the little man had replaced his own shadow. With a disgusted sigh that perhaps was intended to smother a growing unease regarding the Frôzhal, Jinan thought about their “competent” general. They had come within striking distance of the towers that were the eyes of the Poros settlement, and the all knowing captain had, naturally, decided to attack them at dawn’s first light.

Besides the fact that they would more than likely suffer heavy damage because of the lack of a warrior’s spirits in their wilted troops, if they attacked the watch towers the Poros would certainly be aware of them, if they weren’t already. If they attacked the towers, the enemy may become acquainted with their poor, measly, weak, languid numbers. In an instant they could be hurrying back towards Harad, beating a hasty retreat and striving to preserve their courage by making it as orderly as possible, which, of course, would be impossible because these “soldiers” did not know how to placidly retreat in the face of an enemy. But, he thought to himself with a toothless smile, if they knew how to do that, then they wouldn’t need to fear the possible need for a retreat. It was a continuous circle -- a circle that could only be broken by competent troops.

Jinan himself thought that they should completely bypass the towers and continue toward the Poros on foot. They would be leaving the enemy behind their back, but it would not be a major problem if they could march swiftly towards the Poros settlement and attack them in the midst of their unease and uncertainty. And they could easily sneak by the towers. The weather had been bad, the silvery, traitorous light of the moon would be smothered by heavy thunderclouds. If they did not light lanterns to guide the way into the night and if they padded their weapons, they would pass between the towers like a serpent: with deadly, swift silence.

But the captain -- a sneer twisted itself onto Jinan’s face -- had said otherwise and, in the process, had made Jinan look like a bumbling fool. He said that to leave enemy at your backside was inviting an ambush, as well as leaving threads untied.

So there they were: waiting for morning’s light to attack the towers. Jinan shook his head. It would not well for Harad -- of that he was sure.
~~~~~

Jinan scrutinized his phalanx of men with a critical eye. With grudging reluctance, he gave them an approving nod. The first tower that would meet its doom in the flames of fire (the captain had made it clear that no enemy buildings would be left standing), would be the south tower. The captain had already appeared to the front of the tower, while Frôzhal hid himself to the east of the tower and Jinan himself waited some distance behind the tower. It seemed as if the Harad forces and the Gondorians were locked in a staring contest, as if they were each apprising the other’s men. With a disdainful snort, Jinan folded his arms and glared malevolently at a figure he thought was the Harad captain. It was idiotic to think that the Gondorians would not be suspecting the plan of attack. It was an old trick, attacking from all sides at one (except they didn’t have somebody to cover the remaining wing of the tower since they only had two corporals and not three), but that minor detail was besides the point. The Gondorians had experienced this sort of play many times in their lives and they’d be ready for it. And --

The booming call of a brass horn broke Jinan’s train of thoughts; it was the signal of attack. With a blood thirsty, Jinan ordered the charge and he led it with sword drawn. The horn was a herald of the death, and he was determined that it delivered its message to the Gondorians alone.
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Old 03-09-2004, 07:19 PM   #32
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Astalder

Astalder sat tall upon his Rohirrim bred horse, a black charger named Taayar, looking upon the men that would be accompanying him to the Southern watch tower. He fought the urge to pull at his tunic collar as an uneasy tightness grew in his throat, He was no leader of men, yes he could guide and counsel when required and he had proven himself many times in battle, but leadership! He had always shunned that responsibility, convincing himself that he could better serve and protect his kin with the might of his sword, but here he was, with twelve pairs of eyes intently watching him, expectantly waiting for him to speak, delivering their orders. Clearing his throat, as much to get their attention as to dislodge the growing lump in his throat, he turned to address them.

“As you may or may not be aware, reports have come in reporting that a contingent of Haradrim warriors crossed the Harnen, now six days past these reports also suggest that they may be heading this way! Captain Anhelm is dispatching us to ride to the southern boarders to assess the situation; we are also to instruct the watch in the towers to set beacons at the first sign of any hostility from the enemy, it may yet be that they just wish to make their presence felt, but we must be prepared for anything !” He paused briefly to allow the importance of their new orders to sink in, then raising his sword he ordered them to fall in.

Turning Taayar he led the twelve riders through the village, towards the main gate. The settlers stopped to watch their procession and he could see the uneasiness in their eyes. “Astalder” A familiar voice pulled him from the faces of those he was charged with protecting and with a loving smile he looked on the face of his wife and son. “Astalder, you are riding out today? She asked. He could hear the trace of worry in her voice as she spoke, though she tried to hide it. “When will you be back?” she continued looking at the supplies strapped to his horse as she walked along side his horse. “Two, perhaps three days” he said trying to reassure her, but her deepening frown told him that he had failed.

“It’s true isn’t it…? What they are saying, the southerner are sending their army to drive us out!” she said lowering her voice so as little Falmir could not hear her words, Astalder’s usually thoughtful blue grey eyes went wide with surprise at her words, it had only been a few hours since the scout arrive with the news and already word had spread through the settlement. It pained him greatly to see fear in the proud and usually strong willed woman’s eyes. He halted his horse gesturing for his company to continue on to the gate, then turned back to look at his wife.

“We do not know that!” he answered gently, “They may just be making their presence felt.” then realising that this was the second time he had used those exact words he shook his head. “I will know more on my return; just promise me that the two of you will stay within the walls of the settlement.” Fëawyn nodded her understanding as he reached out to brush a stray strand of her soft golden hair from her face. “Promise me you will return!” She whispered taking hold of his hand as he ran it down her pale cheek. “I promise that if it is in my power I will return!” he answered bending over and kissing her lightly on the forehead.

“And you little man, look after your mother while am gone!” he smiled tousling the young lads hair. “Yes sir!” the lad answered seriously, raising his small hand in a salute, which made Astalder laugh, “I will be back soon!” he again reassured Fëawyn, then with a last look at his family he set off again, catching up to his company as they passed through the strong wooden gates.

“Sir if you don’t mind me asking how far is it to the boarder post?” He turned to face the tall dark haired young man who issued the question, “Roughly a day and half’s riding.” He answered watching the roquen’s somewhat innocent face as he made the calculations, nodding as the young man came to the same conclusion he had. “We won’t get to them in time!” he exclaimed lowering his voice to a whisper, “we should be making haste!”

“And we will” Astalder assured him “just as soon as we are out of sight of the settlement” To his relief the young man had understood his reasoning and did not question his decision. “What is your name?” he asked the roquen. “Khalad, Sir” the young man replied, his dark blue eyes fixed on the road ahead.

“Well Khalad my name is Astalder and we are of the same rank so there is no need to be calling me sir, in fact it maybe that I will need someone at my side who is not afraid to question my actions!” he smiled, then standing up in his stirrups he looked back and seeing the Poros settlement fade into the distance he gave the order to make haste informing his company that they would not be stopping till nightfall.

They where less than a few hours out when the heavens opened upon them and it did not abate for the remainder of the day, drowning the already low spirits of the riders, by nightfall both horses and riders were cold, wet and hungry. Astalder sent Khalad and two other ahead to find somewhere to make camp, they returned shortly and led them to a wooded area a short distance ahead, the company then dismounted and began to set up camp. The horses were feed, a fire lit and a meal prepare, after everyone had eaten, he set the watch, four men to switch every two hours. He then seated himself next to the fire and listened to the conversations of the men and as they shared past deeds and tales of old, he sharpened his sword, feeling every notch of the Heirloom of Minas Ithil as he ran the wetting stone down it’s edge and even as he did he felt almost certain that he would have need of her soon.

Anhelm

Anhelm tossed in bed--which is to say, his cot in the back of his office. He had found that he couldn't sleep, try as he might, and every time he closed his eyes he saw the village burning.

He sat up and, lighting a lamp, grabbed some reports from the small desk next to his cot. Rifling through them but not truly reading them, his mind went out to the sleepy village that lay around him. How many were still awake? How many knew the danger they were in? Did any of them realize that all around them were enemies, just waiting for the opportune moment to attack? Did he himself really realize that, come to think of it?

All his life in Gondor Anhelm had been sheltered even as he protected his country. He was never on the front line, truly...he was surrounded by friends, friends of his and friends of his father's. He would never come to any harm, and he knew it. This time, he was the leader...he was the one who had to make sure, to whatever extent possible, that his men came to no harm. It was his job this time.

He stared dismally at the reports. This was no good. Maybe if he got a little sleep, he would feel better in the morning.

What could happen in one night, anyway?

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Old 03-10-2004, 02:32 AM   #33
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He took Erfâzh by the arm, grabbed him and made him follow. Finally, they aren't looking, Frôzhal thought to his pleasure. Sooner than expected the Haradrim army had approached one of the two towers. By this, Frôzhal had felt quite helpless and desperate to get out of this situation as soon as possible. However, he couldn't help the feeling of being watched by his superior and his colleague. A thought passed him by; maybe Jinan just admired him and wanted to be like him. In order to be able to imitate him, Jinan surely had to look at his colleague and see what he did that was so unique.

Erfâzh snorted. "Sir., you realise that you are keeping me from my duties," he said nervously, but still quite firmly. Frôzhal frowned, looking anxiously around, wondering whether Jinan was watching him now. He shuddered, thinking of this; as it wasn't really a comfortable feeling. Frôzhal took no notice of the man for while, as he was starting to feel quite unsure about this. However, there was no other way. He glanced one more time at his right before, lowering his voice and turning his attention to Erfâzh.

"Listen!" he started, surprising himself by the sudden courage he felt towards what he was about to say.

"When we attack, for real, you will lead the platoon!" Desperately fighting for air to continue, he was interrupted by the man's reply. "Do you hear me?!" Frôzhal asked, ignoring him. There was a pause.

"But, where are you going??!!" Erfâzh backed away, breathing heavily. He looked at Frôzhal with a disappointed look, immediately turning on his heals to go. Frôzhal, who had been standing; looking into the thin air, noticed the man's reaction and hurried over to grab him by the arm again. He dried the sweat away from below his eyes, stared at Erfâzh and raised his voice several notches when speaking.

"You will obey my orders, or you will await the same destiny as those Gondorians," he said, not quite realising himself that he was threatening a Haradrim. "I, however, will do my job by watching..." he said, thinking that he had finished. The man looked sceptically had him, as if he expected something more. Frôzhal shrugged. Hadn't he just threatened him? He thought, furiously. Shouldn't he at least frown or get a little bit scared? He straightened up and continued, stammering:" Watching... watching you... the others... and.. everyone else.. It's called tactics and strategy.. my lad." The last bit was basically just to annoy him and make him a bit more insecure. After all, Frôzhal was his superior.

Erfâzh left, hurrying over to some of the others. He looked over his shoulder, seeing Frôzhal running his fingers up and down the blade of his knife. He gritted teeth, but pretended as nothing. Hopefully, Frôzhal had managed to scare Erfâzh enough so that he wouldn't go telling everybody about this awkward explanation from Frôzhal. The Swerting sighed. He should despite all of it, be very pleased. Being in command of a platoon during an attack, he thought. He heard the Horn. He was all set for his task.

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Old 03-10-2004, 07:49 PM   #34
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Slipping Closer

Slowly brushing aside the vines of a tangled shrub, Gimilzôr peered out into the early darkness. His men and Frôzhal’s detachment continued to file along behind him, bent half to the ground like a troop of great apes. Such dangerous animals as had not been seen in this place for long years. Although most of the men had never seen real battle, they were many, and armed well enough to strike a hard blow to the men of Gondor.

His dark, scarred face peered out at the tower standing several furlongs away down the slope. Too close. Luckily the night was yet dark. Had the soldiers started to move into position any later, the rising moon may have shown them up, even though they were sneaking through the eaves of a thick wood near the top of the surrounding ridge. Gimilzôr could make out the movement of sentries in the torchlight below. The Gondorians were watchful this night, perhaps sensing battle in the air. There was no sign of drinking or revelry in any of the small wooden buildings clustered around the tower. It was difficult to count heads from where he was crouching, but the veteran could see that his foes were armed only as well as he was. With a three-pronged attack, the element of surprise, and at least 50 fresh and expendable new recruits, it would not take a military genius to destroy this tiny outpost. He grinned and then, replacing the foliage, took his place back in the line of Haradrim that were creeping around the east flank of the tower.

It did not look good for the soldiers manning the watchtower. Most of them would die at dawn if they could not flee quickly enough, thought Gimilzôr. But the sergeant did not have the knowledge that his commanding officer did. Lan’kâsh was well informed, and could have told his man that victory here mattered little. It was but a feint, and a test of the strength of the Poros settlement. But it was also a risky gamble by Lan’kâsh, thus revealing the strength of his force… and its weakness. Jinan had grumbled, of course, about the decision to attack here. He seemed to have some knowledge of strategy, and clearly preferred to slink past. He was more suited to be the hyena, cunning and wary, edging around the kill. Gimilzôr despised such an attitude, especially in a superior. He was ever ready for an open fight, unless of course the odds were heavily against him keeping his life. The watchtower itself would be difficult to take, as the expeditionaries were poorly equipped with archers. There was a strong group of slingers, but they would be severely outranged by any bowman in the tower.

“If only we had a Mûmak,” the lieutenant had said that afternoon. They didn’t, however, and instead had made vague plans to move close enough to raze the tower. Scouts had come back and reported this was only a wooden structure overlooking the road, surrounded by a few scant buildings, and manned with only a small garrison.

Gimilzôr had moved to the back of the line now, to make sure no stragglers were falling behind. Most of those near the rear of the column were new recruits, but some of these had kept the pace and were closer to the front. Generally speaking, they had been toughened up by a week of long marching on short commons. They had not mixed well with Gimilzôr’s lads, though, being constantly the butt of pranks and mockery. Half of it was probably due to their being led by Frôzhal. Jinan’s recruits at least marched in time and showed some signs of respectability. Several scuffles had broken out, in which, Gimilzôr had to admit, some of the newbies had shown their toughness, and given better than they got. These fights were usually encouraged by the tough old sergeant, who thought it good for the men to scrap with each other occasionally. But once he had to step in and knock a mean-looking kris from one of his lad’s hands. There was no sense seriously damaging your own soldiers. That’s what the Gondorians were for.

Owing to the tension between them, Gimilzôr’s boys and Frôzhal’s peasants were treated as two separate units by Lieutenant Lan’kâsh. It was only now that Gimilzôr had left the company of the captain, to watch over his most detested corporal. Gimilzôr himself had had little to do with Jinan and Frôzhal so far. He found it difficult, not knowing his position with them. While lower down in the pecking order, and clearly out of favour with Lan’kâsh, Gimilzôr thought they both seemed more like officers than foot soldiers. It was not wise to become the enemy of those who may some day be your superiors. Not in this army.

Suddenly there was a thud, and a great clang from up ahead. Gimilzôr sharply hissed a curse. One of the men in front must have lost his footing. He wondered if it was Frôzhal. Two days of steady rain had not only made his men miserable, but the earth as well. Even though the weather had cleared, it was still muddy underfoot, and most of them were attired in thick, covered sandals rather than boots. This was no place for men of the plains and the deserts. The column had stopped dead on hearing the noise. Sneaking around to positions outflanking the tower was the most risky part of the captain’s plan. Shortly afterwards, two of Gimilzôr’s men returned from the head of the column to speak with him. They decided that the Gondorians could not have heard the racket, but also that they would halt here and await the dawn. They had come far enough around, and did not want to risk detection by moving further. Sentries were posted and most of the men lay down to sleep fitfully, each inwardly preparing himself for what the dawn might bring; glorious victory, or an end to life, soaked in blood, far from the safety of his homelands.


The Dawn Brings Smoke

An hour before dawn broke over the northeastern mountains, Gimilzôr was fully awake, striding confidently between the trees at the top of the ridge. He was lightly kicking the men who weren’t awake, and nodding to those that were, as a signal to get up and get ready for the onslaught. Once again, he avoided the gaze of Frôzhal, trusting that he would organise his conscripts into some kind of fighting force, for today at least. Soon, the hilltop was busy with men loosening swords, checking spears and stowing gear in satchels. Some were eating a quick bite of whatever they had with them, dried fruits or hard biscuit. Gimilzôr, though, knew better than any that whatever was in your stomach before the bloodshed began, generally wasn’t afterwards.

When all were up and almost ready, he silently gathered his men to him, separate from Frôzhal’s detachment. He stood near the edge of the trees, tightly binding helm to head, while one of his men strapped up his armour of overlapping plates at the back. His shield was fastened around his arm, left hand holding several javelins taken from the company’s arms wagon. Sword loosened in sheath, he awaited the signal. His heart was pounding so that he fancied he could hear it clang against the inside of his armour. No man could stop that, but it was up to each to control it. Gimilzôr doubted Frôzhal’s ability to control his thumping heart, and looked over towards him.

Suddenly the clear blast of a Southron horn shattered the still air, as the first rays of the sun peeped down onto the plain below. The time for reflection was over. Gimilzôr plunged out of the trees with a roar, his men swift behind him. They were on the open slope now, which was covered only in little bushes, few and far between, and afforded no cover. But attacking from the east, the sun was now in the eyes of the defenders, some of whom could be seen hurriedly emerging from the buildings and scaling the watchtower. Jinan could be seen to the north, closer to the outpost than Gimilzôr and Frôzhal, and closing in fast. Jinan himself was in the forefront of the attack, sword held on high. To the south, a column of smoke could be seen spiralling up from the trees. The commander had planned ahead, and was already preparing to put the Gondorians to the torch.

Sprinting down the hill, many of Gimilzôr’s men began to overtake him. Several of Frôzhal’s recruits also rushed past, and he wondered whether their leader was close behind. He now heard swift whistling noises overhead, and to his side. Confusing, as Gimilzôr believed they were still out of range of the tower. No man he had ever seen could have fired a bolt so far. Then in front of him, two Haradrim fell, rolling to a stop after several feet. A man next to him was hit in the chest by a long arrow and stopped in his tracks. They were in range! A thrill of fear coursed through Gimilzôr, as he raised his shield higher and increased his pace.

Soon the attackers from the east were among the wooden buildings, but not without substantial losses. “Curse their bowmen!” Gimilzôr thought. His own spearmen were fighting with soldiers of Gondor just ahead. Now he was off the slope of the hill, Jinan and Lan’kâsh could not be seen, but archers were now firing down on three sides from the dreaded tower. Keeping his shield up on high, with several arrows sticking from it already, he took a javelin in his right hand and looked about, eager for blood now. A Gondorian appeared to his right, around the corner of a building. Praise the gods, there were still some unfought on the ground. Before he knew what hit him, the man was jerked violently backwards off his feet. Gimilzôr’s javelin was embedded deep in the man’s torso. He flew right past a fellow who had followed him around the corner. Gimilzôr drew his broadsword and flashed his teeth in a terrifying grimace. The man of Gondor ran to the attack. The battle had been joined.

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Old 03-11-2004, 11:07 AM   #35
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1420!

As the battle was joined by the valiant Gondorians, Frôzhal started regretting that he had let Erfâzh in charge. He sighed, hearing Erfâzh ordering the platoon to attack. A number of men rushed past Frôzhal, drawing their swords. The Swerting looked with squinted eyes upon the tower as the sun rose. He froze, getting a glimpse of Gimilzôr; not a very pleasant sight. He lowered his head in order not to be spotted.

Sweat from his forehead started running down his face. He trembled as he saw to of the Haradrim fall, right in front of him. They had both been shot by arrows. Frôzhal made a grimace, disgusted by the colour of the blood. He had never really liked blood. It was the proof of life and he didn't like life either, at this point, however. He was terribly scared of dying, but didn't dare admit it to anyone. Erfâzh had probably figured it by now, Frôzhal thought, seeing his opportunity to run down the slope at the western side of the tower and let the others fight. He looked desperately around, looking after familiar faces. None. He tried to hide his vicious smile, but it appeared nevertheless. He came up on the side of some 'half-fighting' and 'half-standing-waiting-in-queue' Haradrims before sneaking away. It was easier than expected, much easier, but not less satisfying.

He got out of sight in a hurry, still hearing steel against steel and horrified screams as men fell. Frôzhal, safe from all dangers, sat down on a stone and found his knife. He sharpened the knife by running it up and down on the stone. When finished, he held it up and smiled at the reflection of his face. Not too handsome at the moment, as his beard had started showing. He whistled silently before shaving. Quite a pleasant morning, Frôzhal thought for a moment. Even though he could clearly hear the battle taking place not very far away, he enjoyed the time he spent alone. He didn't live a life with luxury anymore. Those times were over. He sighed, trying to think about something else.

Frôzhal felt quite relieved by having Erfâzh as a replacement, but couldn't help feeling slightly insecure about it all. His biggest concern was that he had chosen the wrong man for the job. Frôzhal feared that by choosing him, he had something coming in return. This would not necessarily be good. Erfâzh was not a bad warrior, and when Frôzhal thought about it, the chance of Erfâzh surviving this attack was pretty darn good. He frowned. If he survived, he could tell on Frôzhal. He bit his lip. He just realised that this tactics weren't all that great after all. He should never have chosen Erfâzh. He was too well trained. What had seemed like a satisfying escape and a satisfying morning had turned into Frôzhal's greatest nightmare. But there was nothing he could do about it? Or was there? Frôzhal was in deep thought. He would have to come up with something clever for a change. He uttered a silent prayer, begging for help; council and a sign. He waited..... and waited.... and waited... Nothing happened.

Fear caught him. He had waited for several minutes and nothing had happened! He felt rage swell up in him; blowing him up, soon about to crack. He jumped up into the air, screaming, swearing and waving with his knife. "I'll kill you!" he screamed. "I'll kill you if you tell on me! I will kill....!" Frôzahl stopped. He wouldn't want to draw attention towards his hiding spot. All the same, his outburst had enlightened him; he knew what he would have to do.

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Old 03-13-2004, 04:57 AM   #36
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Khalad gave a brief report of what they had seen to Astalder as he returned to the band of Gondorian warriors. There was little to report; they had not seen neither friend nor foe. Together with the other scouts he led the knights of Gondor to the area they had decided to camp in; it was not the best of positions if they were attacked, but speed was the most important now; they would have to sacrifice some caution for the benefit of reaching the watch towers faster.

He dismounted and took care of Palan, his war steed, knowing that it was his responsibility the horse was taken good care of; and it would end up harming himself in a potential battle if his mount was ill-treated. Then along with the other soldiers he drew forth some food from the pouch that they all wore when on a march or away from their garrison. The food nourished and strengthened him, and he could feel that he was not as weary as he had first feared; he knew very well that battle may come upon them tomorrow, and it could be fatal if he was tired.

Amongst themselves the soldiers agreed who was to take the guard duty for the different hours, and Khalad laid down on his blanket, his head sleeping as soon it hit the ground; as most soldiers used to sleeping in the wild, Khalad's body knew it needed all the sleep he could get, even if it only was for a few hours.

He was awakened, though, by the cries of the guard. "Alert, alert!" Instantly all the sleeping soldiers leapt to their feet, unsheathing their weapons. The sun was slowly rising and there was enough light for them to see what had caught the guard's vigilance. A pillar of smoke rose from the place that was their destination; and none of the soldiers were in doubt as to what happened. With amazing speed they saddled their horse and mounted them and rode towards the smoke that stood against the blue sky as an ill omen for the times to come.
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Old 03-13-2004, 01:02 PM   #37
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The arrows glided with deadly skill towards the Haradrim leaders and Jinan instantly saw that this could quickly become a massacre if the bowman were not instantly destroyed -- which could only happen if they took the tower, but they could very well be slaughtered before they had a chance to do that. As he ran madly forward, shield held high above his head, Jinan smiled smugly to himself: they should have slinked past the towers. Even if Gondor already knew they were marching toward the Poros Settlement, they still wouldn’t know when they would attack. But if the smart captain wanted a beacon to announce their coming, that would be no concern of his. Thinking of the captain reminded Jinan of Frôzhal and he wondered if the worm, his heart palpitating with fear, had buried himself in the dirt. He scoffed: Frôzhal’s absence could only aid the army, for fear was as contagious as the most deadly plague.

Ah, now they were sending out foot soldiers…the rain of arrows had somewhat slackened and Jinan knew that supplies were more than likely running out. With a small smile, the white of his teeth just barely glimmering, he drew his dagger and spat on the blade. It was awkward in his hand, but he would get used to that -- after all, one can’t carry a bow all the time.

A Gondorian, lips curled back in a bestial smile, charged furiously at him, his broad blade, stained with Haradrim blood, lunged hungrily for the throat. Jinan dodged lightly aside and stuck the Gondorian heavily in the stomach with his fist, momentarily forgetting that this was no drunken, insolent fool he fought, but a seasoned warrior who wore a heavy breastplate. Hollow popping sounds exploded from his knuckles why a fiery pain seared the bones. Jinan wasn’t sure, but he swore afterwards that he heard the Gondorian laugh loudly as he saw a flicker of a wince rush fleetingly across the Haradrim’s face. Ignoring the pain, Jinan raised his dagger and plunged it forcefully at the neck, staring in cold pleasure as the crimson blood flowed from the open wound (like water released from a dam), staining his tanned hand.

Inhaling deeply as he took jerked the knife from the dead man’s neck, Jinan paused and frowned. The pleasant fragrance of smoke mingled with the pungent smell of the dead. He jerked his around and saw smoke billowing from the top of the tower. Orange flames licked greedily at the dried thatch that served as a roof, while red flames, glimmering with blue, danced a wild orgy of gleeful delight from the windows.

The fool! Jinan cursed as he watch the tower burn. It was a signal, a warning to the Poros settlement. He could feel the dead delight as the heat of the fire tore at his face, forcing him to back away from the tower. With a toothless smile, his black eyes like onyx stones, he helped his men finish the last of the Gondorians that hoped to stay their passing.
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Old 03-13-2004, 06:49 PM   #38
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The Towers fall....

Excellent! thought Lan’Kâsh, watching the action roiling around him. The untrained men following Jinan swarmed recklessly around the tower, each screaming at the top of his lungs as they chased the few remaining Gondorians away. Most of the northmen had retreated into the security of the treeline where they had turned and form a temporary line of defense. Even as Lan’kâsh watched, Gimilzôr’s experienced force drove into the right side of the Winger line, and it immediately began to crumble.

Above the lieutenant the watchtower burned violently, sending a pillar of black smoke into the morning sky. Excellent! he thought again. Not a Gondorian in Harondor can miss that signal, and every peasant farmer for 50 miles will poor into Poros Crossing. By the time we get there, the place will be packed to bursting and ready for a crushing defeat. A few hundred settlers squeezed into a wooden box will be no match for Haradrim fire and iron!

He noticed with satisfaction that Jinan’s men were now fighting strongly, though several had fallen in the initial charge of the tower. Gondorian bowmen were deadly marksmen from prepared defenses, but as the Harad force had surrounded and ignited the tower and the few huts around it, the Wingers had been forced to abandon their lofty position. With the archers fleeing instead of firing at them, Jinan’s force had rediscovered their courage and chased their foe with deadly vigor.

Frôzhal was not to be seen, though his men were. A burly fellow, who even now was urging them to the forest line, where a few Gondorians still stood, led them. Several of the peasants in his group lay wounded or dead between the tower and their current position, but like Jinan’s group, they were clearly now in control and enjoying their first taste of battle.

As the last Gondorian fell or fled, Lan’kâsh signaled for his bugler to call everyone to do a quick regroup. The northmen were now on the run, and a fast pursuit through the forest would be unnecessary and dangerous. Anyways, he knew where they were headed.

“Sergeant Benel,” he shouted, and the faithful soldier soon was at is side, his spear covered in blood and a bright gleam in his eye. “Advise Gimilzôr that we will loot this position and then proceed cautiously. Our first goal of alarming the Gondorians is accomplished. Now we must engage them at their fortress and keep them pinned down until our main army arrives.”

Walking the battlefield with the sergeant still in tow, he told him, “Less than ten dead, and that many again wounded. Not bad, not bad at all. Those peasants fought better than I had thought possible.”

Sergeant Benel nodded agreement. “Yes, sir. They did fine, but I thought they were turnin’ right when the first arrows flew in.”

“I saw that,” answered the lieutenant, “but they held together. Smart. Now they know what victory is, and they’ll be better soldiers for it. This attack did more for us than just let the enemy know we are here, as I was commanded to do. This battle made us stronger.”

“Yes, sir.”

Lan’kâsh looked around again as if searching for someone. “Sergeant, after you talk to Gimilzôr, see if you can track down Frôzhal. I haven’t seen him since the battle began, and I fear the poor fellow may have fallen. Go!”
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Old 03-16-2004, 04:15 AM   #39
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Waking suddenly, to the cries of the watch, Astalder instinctively grasped for his sword, squinting in the new days light to look upon the source of their cries. A tall dark, pillaring tower of smoke rose high into the morning sky. His heart sank, as he had feared they had come too late. “Mount up!” he cried, though the command was not wholly needed, the men already hastily prepared to leave. Quickly rolling and stowing his bed roll, Astalder mounted and lead the knights from the cover of the trees and rode with all haste towards the smoking tower, hoping beyond hope that he would find some survivors.

They had not gone far when he called a sudden stop. Dismounting he pressed his ear to the dew filled ground and listened, after a moment he rose wiping himself down. “Riders two perhaps three, coming in this way and in great haste.” he informed his company.

“I see them, there are two and they ride like the enemy is close at their heels” Khalad cried, from the top of the next rise. “Then they are Gondorian?” Astalder questioned as he mounted and rode to join the younger man. “I can not be certain the sun is against them, making it difficult to ascertain their appearance, However, it has occurred to me that if these riders are scouts of the enemy would they not be moving with more care and less speed?” Astalder nodded his agreement, looking out towards the two fast approaching riders.

Messengers, he thought as he turned and indicated for the rest of the company too follow. As they drew closer they could indeed see that the riders wore the attire of the Poros guards and that one of them was wounded, slumped over the neck of his mount. An arrow sat lodged in the slumped messengers shoulder, calling a halt he ordered two of his company to see to the wounded messenger. “Report!” he ordered turning towards the other rider.

“The southern watch tower has been breeched by the Haradrim, sir,” the young man reported.

“We didn’t stand a chance!” the wounded rider wheezed, gritting his teeth as he forced himself to sit up. “You have come too little and too late!” the messenger continued looking at their numbers, then back to Astalder, shaking his head wearily. The rider was tall in his mid-thirties by Astalders reckoning; his dark grey eyes showed his pain, telling Astalder the worst, this man had seen his friends and comrades fall.

“They surprised us at first light,” The second rider continued, “we were greatly out numbered, but we did our best too hold them off as long as we could, But when they set light to the tower the watch captain ordered riders to take word to the village. Only we remain of those riders sent.” he finished sadly shaking his head and Astalder knew he wondered the fate of his comrades.

Leaving Khalad to question the messengers further and his men to attend the wounded messenger he took a few pace ahead looking out in the direction of the tower, pondering what he should do now. A few things troubled him, he had encountered the Haradrim several times in minor skirmishes and knew them to be brutal but not foolish, so why then had they torched the tower sending them a clear signal, where they really that overconfident or is that what they wanted then to believe? A gently cold breeze made him shiver and he looked back in the direction of the village. His heart told him to return and protect his family, but his duty told him that he should at least stay and try to determine his enemies’ numbers and armaments. As he struggled with his conflicting loyalties to his fellow soldiers and his family, his gaze fell on his company and the wounded messenger who was now bandaged and his decision became clear his loyalties were as they had always been to his people all of them, from farm hand to those he loved dearly. Raising the hilt of his sword to his lips, letting the white ribbon bound to it flap in the morning breeze, he prayed to eru to let him keep his promise to his wife.

“We must determine our enemies’ strength and numbers!” he issued, re-sheathing his sword and looking upon his men with renewed strength and determination. He then ordered three of his men to return at once with the two messengers and report to Anhelm of the attack, trusting that the young captain would already have preparations well under way. He then turned to Khalad, “What are you thinking?” he asked watching the young man gaze in the direction of the smoking tower.

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Old 03-16-2004, 08:46 AM   #40
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Jinan, with nonchalant carelessness, wiped his bloody sword and tossed the rag away. He remembered the battle with grim pleasure, and it suddenly occurred to him that Frôzhal’s troops had attacked with surprising vigor -- well, as much vigor as raw troops could be expected to muster in their faint hearts.

But speaking of Frôzhal, Jinan suddenly realized that he hadn’t noticed him in the fray. He had seen the others, but not the puppy dog Frôzhal. Narrowing his black eyes, Jinan wondered if he had scuttled to the shelter of the shrubs, his tail between his legs. He scoffed, and muttered that soldier of Harad would not display such misdemeanor -- surely the boy had managed to find the shards of a warriors bravery underneath his cowering skin.

“Hello, Jinan,” a voice said, tainted with bitterness. “I do hope all is well and you do not suffer any wounds?”

Jinan laughed coldly, and turned to the field officer who spoke to him: Erfâzh. “I don’t know, friend,” he said, clapping him on the back, “but I think that I could boast a few more scars…maybe one slashed across my eye to make me look like weathered veteran,” Jinan added with a fierce scowl.

“More fitting for a corsair, if you ask me. Besides, your vanity would be violated with a scar,” he added with a half hearted shove.

Jinan looked keenly at him. His normally cheerful face was downcast, his brows were kitted together, and he glared at the ground, scuffing the dirt with the toe of his boot. “What is wrong Erfâzh?”

“Frôzhal gave me the command of his forces today,” he said bluntly, “while he said that he would watch.”

Jinan’s brows shot up and he stopped, and said, “Turned the command over to you while he crouched in the brambles like a hunted hare, you mean,” he snapped, twirling one of his earrings.

Erfâzh nodded, his lips twisted into a scowl. “The honour of leading the troops was severely shadowed by his cowardly actions.”

Jinan nodded wisely and said, “I should say so. But why don’t you mention it causally to the Capt -- Lieutenant,” Jinan amended hastily. It would not do to make a sly reference to Lan’Kâsh’s overbearing manner even in front of a friend.

“I don’t really relish the possibility of being accused of treachery.”

Treacher …the word sounded sweet to Jinan’s ears, and dripped with poisoned honey. “Not if we could prove that Frôzhal was the one committing the treachery,” he said softly. “Why else would he skulk off before the battle?”

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