The Gathering Storm – Winner, Silver Thread Award (Best RP)

Pull out your pack and head on down to the Prancing Pony for some great Role Playing (try to stay in character)!

Postby Barad-dur » Sat Feb 10, 2001 5:36 pm

"It is said that prophecies are not spoken only by those that follow the path of 'good.' Evil is bound by fate as well, and thus it shall come to pass, that the Hosts of Mordor shall gather once more before the Tower of Darkness. For Barad-Dur shall rise again, its dark and majestic glory brought once again to unholy life, and from its gates shall issue forth an army the likes of which Middle-Earth has not seen since the Elder Days."<BR><BR>This then is the tale, told in the waxing days of the Fourth Age and the Dominion of Men, of the rise of Mordor:<BR><BR>The year is Fourth Age 120. <BR><BR>King Elessar, lord of the reunited kingdoms of the West has surrendered peacefully unto death at last. The Sceptre of Arnor and the Winged Crown of Gondor have passed into the hands of his son Eldarion, who now leads the Dunedain into the prosperity of the future. Together with their allies in Rohan, Men are now the undisputed masters of northwestern Middle-Earth.<BR><BR>The Eldar continue their slow exodus from Middle-Earth after the passing of the Three over the Sea. The Haven of Imladris is now largely abandoned, for only the sons of Elrond and a few stalwart warriors of the Firstborn remain behind still, watching the roads and providing safe passage for any of their kin on their way to the Sea. Elsewhere, the leaves continue to fall in Lorien and no breath of the living disturbs the still air of that empty and silent realm. Only in the Wood of Greenleaves can the song of the Eldar be heard still, for there live yet Thranduil's people in the north, and the remnant of Celeborn's folk in the south. In Ithilien there dwell a small number of the elven folk led there by Legolas, although their future is now uncertain after the recent departure of their lord over the Sea. Lastly, at the Grey Havens there waits Cirdan the Shipwright, his swan ships ready as always to bear his weary kin away from the mortal world and into the Blessed Lands.<BR><BR>Durin's Folk have retreated further into their mountain fastness of Erebor, and trade with the human controlled lands to the south has become sporadic at best. A second expedition was sent to attempt to retake Moria once again and to restore it to its former glory, but no news have reached king Thorin Stonehelm of its fate. Always a reclusive people, dwarves have become as rare a sight on the roads as a Hobbit outside of their closely guarded Shire.<BR><BR>Five generations in the lives of common men have passed now since that fateful day long-ago, when the Dark Lord of Mordor was defeated and Middle-Earth freed from the spectre of war and conquering armies. Only in the memories of the longest lived and pure blooded Dunedain were those dark days remembered still. However, as was always their wont in times of peace, thus it came to pass in the latter years that the Watch was abandoned at last. The Black Land was deserted, the Dark Lord slain, and the One Ring, source of his power, destroyed. <BR><BR>Or was it?<BR><BR>A hot wind blew across the bare, dry plains of Gorgoroth, eddies of dust swirling about the cracked stone road. Row upon row of blackened iron pikes lined either side of the ancient path, their jagged tips once adorned with the severed heads of those foolish enough to defy the supreme will of the Master.<BR><BR>On and on the road wound, skirting the slopes of ruined Orodruin, vanishing in places where the lava flows from the Great Eruption had cooled over it, reappearing further on after the rents in the earth had been left behind.<BR><BR>Towards a southward thrusting spur of the Ered Lithui did the road continue, to end abruptly before a great dark pit ringed with broken black stone. In the depths below, a dark mist swirled lazily, faint red pulses of power occasionally glimpsed if not heard, as distant rumblings.<BR><BR>Dark and powerful magic lay there still, its ancient evil not wholly unmade with the destruction of the One. Deep below the bones of the very Earth lay the foundations of Barad-Dur and in them was a power that even the Wise could not guess at.<BR><BR>A dark figure knelt before the dark pit, swathed in cloth darker than night. Arriving from the East one late evening, for days it had remained there motionless, making no sound. After what seemed like an eternity, the figure stirred at last, its arms lifting slowly up. The sleeves fell back slowly and behold, no flesh could be seen beneath the fabric. Invisible hands pulled back the dark cowl to reveal nothing more than a pair of glimmering eyes of reddish light, glimmering fiercely with hatred as their cold and piercing gaze looked at the ruined stone littering the area.<BR><BR>"Master," it cried in a wailing hiss. "I have returned as you bid me. Twenty two years and one hundred have passed since I lay before you, defeated by a woman and a cursed halfling," the figure shook with rage as it spoke. "On that day, you restored the spell that bound my will to my flesh and returned this to me," and with that, the figure turned its gaze to where its right hand would have been. There, glimmering softly in the pale reddish light, a thin gold ithilnaur ring appeared, adorned with a single shining gemstone.<BR><BR>"Twenty two years and one hundred it has taken me to regain my form again and I could not have done it without this," it raged as the hand balled into an invisible fist that shook. "Your gift to your loyal servant. I have felt your passing, but hope is restored for here I stand. The One Ring must endure still."<BR><BR>The figure rose to its feet and bowed from the waist towards the crater-like hole from where once rose the majestic pinnacle of Barad-Dur, Tower of Darkness. <BR><BR>"The Wraith King, Lord of Morgul, Witch-King of Angmar, Lord of the Nazgul, Sorcerer King, Black Captain, Chieftain of the Ringwraiths, and the First has returned. Command me Master, so that all of Middle-Earth may once again feel your wrath!"<BR><BR>From the darkness of the pit below there came a hollow but powerful voice then, speaking as if from a great distance.<BR><BR>"Your Master I am not, but guide you I can in his absence."<BR><BR>"Who are you, that should presume to speak for the Lord of the Rings?" cried the Nazgul Lord in disbelief and anger.<BR><BR>"I am the spirit of Barad-Dur. The essence of the Tower given voice and consciousness by the power of the One that made me. My thoughts are guided by the words imparted to me by the Master himself in the last moments before the end. Long have I waited for your return as was foretold. Take now the first of the Rings of Mortal Men and use its power to restore me and we shall begin anew. Fear not that the Dunadan dogs will observe my renewal from afar. Their watch on Mordor has long since dwindled to nothingness. None of their kind will venture here in these days. Once this task is done, you shall cast aside your raiment and go forth unseen by mortal eyes. The land you shall scour for those who are still loyal to the cause of Mordor. My spirit and voice shall travel with you, and together we will begin our search. The winds whisper the name of one whom we must make contact with, one who has caused much pain and grief to the Eldar and Dunedain."<BR><BR>"What is the name of this fierce warrior?" the Black Captain asked warily.<BR><BR>"She goes by the name of Tempest."<BR><BR>With a slow nod, the Wraith-King bent his mighty will upon the Ring, which he had not wielded for centuries now. Exulting in the nearly forgotten sensation of power, the Nazgul smiled evilly as the shattered rubble of Barad-Dur began to slowly shift and fall into place.
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Postby Tempest » Sat Feb 10, 2001 11:14 pm

Tempest watched the elves as they wove their way through the forest, singing merrily to one another. She held up her hand, and the orcs behind her became very still, their black eyes fixed upon their prey. <i>"Be silent and quick. We must finish them and be gone before their friends can aid them. On my signal, attack,"</i> she whispered to them. They nodded and grunted at her words, clutching their shields close to their bodies. <BR><BR>Slowly, Tempest crept nearer to the approaching party, hiding herself in the shadows until they were almost upon her. Then she stepped from the darkness and onto the path. Her sudden appearance startled the elves, who immedietly drew their weapons and looked at her in apprehension. Then, seeing that she was of Rohan, they called out in joyous tones, <i>"Hail and well met, fair lady!"</i> <BR><BR><i>"Hail and well met, fair ones!'</i> she answered in a similar tone, approaching them with a smile on her face. <i>"Surely Eru looks in favor upon you today!"</i> They laughed and bowed to her, admiring her as she approached. When she was within arms length of their leader, she loosened the knife that was strapped to her wrist and plunged into his side. It was the signal the orcs were waiting for and soon all the elves lay dead, red feathery arrows and knives piercing their lifeless bodies. <BR><BR>They took as much as they could carry from the plunder and then disappeared back into the forest, leaving only a gruesome discovery for whomever else came that way. Tempest looked back briefly before melting into the greenery. <i>"Elven scum,"</i> she said bitterly, wiping her knife on a nearby tree.
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Postby Sauron's_Nagging_Wife » Sun Feb 11, 2001 2:33 am

In the early morning mist, there was no sound save the wash of gentle waves over the pebbles along the shore. The lone figure of a lady, cloaked and hooded in a garment of deep blue, stood motionless at the water's edge. Her head seemed to be bent in sorrow as she stared out across the sea.<BR><BR>A strong breeze rippled the folds of the cloak. She raised her head slowly as the cold air roused her from her reverie. More than a breeze, though, it bore a strange and familiar feeling...<BR><BR>She raised an elegant white hand to her throat in a gesture of surprise. She wore a simple mithril ring set with the father of blue stones, and it seemed to glimmer slightly with its own illumination.<BR><BR>"Where are you?" she murmured aloud. "Do you yet live?"<BR><BR>A strong gust of wind from the east caused the cloak to billow out. The Lady Legrace stood up straight, frozen for a moment. The feeling was stronger now.<BR><BR>"Yes," she whispered, then turned to start her long journey.
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Postby Barad-dur » Sun Feb 11, 2001 6:57 am

His first task complete, the Lord of the Nazgul gazed up at the fruit of his labour.<BR><BR>Casting its vast shadow upon the moonlit plain, there stood once again the Barad-dur, Dark Tower of Mordor, created by the power of Sauron and the One Ring in times now long forgotten by men. Hundreds of feet it soared into the air, turret upon turret, rampart upon rampart, buttress upon buttress, culminating at last upon the dark pinnacle of the Window of the Eye, the chamber of the Dark Lord, now empty and silent. At its wide base, a pair of gigantic iron gates stood shut, each adorned with the symbol of the Lidless Eye. From the gates, a wide bridge spanned a bottomless chasm that plunged down into the fiery depths of the earth itself.<BR><BR>The Wraith King stared at the imposing structure, his ancient mind travelling back to a time when his body still drew breath and the sun could still warm his flesh. A mighty lord of Numenor had he been then, in charge of prosperous colonies along the coast of Harad to the south of Umbar. Always had he chafed under the rule of the King however, sitting faraway on his throne while the toil of the colonies kept his coffers full with tax money. Ever fearful of death and jealous of the Eldar, he had spoken out loudly against Tar-Ciryatan, his king. So it was that Sauron, always seeking for ways to sow discord among his enemies, heard of this powerful lord and in him saw the perfect pupil<BR>He recalled that day as if it were yesterday. It was only one week after Yule, during the year 1883 of the Second Age, when the Dark Lord himself brought him before these very gates, although the symbol of the Eye came much later. His fear at that moment was surpassed only by the exhilarating thrill of excitement at the prospect of the secrets that would be revealed to him within. Power, he had been promised, power and everlasting life. For the next one hundred and fifteen year he studied the dark arts under the tutelage of his new Master, and powerful he grew in the art of black sorcery. Thus it came to pass, in the year of 1998, that he was rewarded with a Ring of Power, the First of the Nine, and a place at his Master’s side. Power he had been given, and everlasting would he be indeed, but life…?<BR><BR>Shaking himself from his reverie, the Black Captain looked down at his ring and willed it to fade from view. That done, he shrugged off his black cloak and exposed his lifeless and invisible flesh to the cold evening air that he could no longer feel. When he was finished, he looked at the tower once more.<BR><BR>“I have done as you asked. What happens next?” he asked, still uncertain about the nature of this ‘spirit.’<BR><BR>“Nothing happens next that we do not set into motion ourselves,” rang a cold and hollow voice from the air in front of the Witch-King.<BR><BR>The burning gaze of the wraith narrowed to thin slits as it regarded the empty air before it. The Lord of the Nazgul had been around far too long to know that he hadn’t been told everything. However, lacking a better plan at the moment, he decided to follow the spirit as he felt rather than saw it move past him in a westerly direction.<BR><BR>“Where are the others?” the wraith asked impatiently, accustomed to being in full possession of the facts. There was a one hundred and twenty-two year gap in his memory after all, and he didn’t like that.<BR> <BR>“If by others you are referring to your fellow Ringwraiths, I must confess I do not know for certain. I fear they may have perished during the great ruin that tore me apart stone from stone. If they were too close to the fires of Orodruin when the One fell in, then their fate was sealed. If not, then there is yet hope that they may yet reform since it is apparent by your presence and mine that the One was not as wholly destroyed as the world was led to believe. You had the benefit of your ring to speed your recovery. They do not. If we can find their essence, then we can help them for the Master left the other eight rings sealed deep in a chamber within me,” answered the spirit of Barad-dur as it continued to move along the plain of Gorgoroth.<BR><BR>“Why do we walk towards the cursed land of Gondor? Is this where we shall find that Tempest woman you spoke of?” the Black Captain asked with some concern. Simply walking into the land of his enemies did not seem like a very good plan at all. Again he had the uncomfortable feeling that something was being held back from him. Following the road from the Dark Tower, they had passed swiftly just to the north of the ruined slopes of Mt. Doom, the spent volcano extinguished for over a century now.<BR><BR>“Perhaps she is there, but I am not certain. It’s as good a place as any to start looking. In case you hadn’t noticed, Mordor is deserted. You will not find even an orc in these lands, but that will soon change. Besides, there are some things being kept in a vault in the ruins of Minas Ithil that you will need,” returned Barad-dur.<BR><BR>“Minas Ithil? Ah yes, the fools would have renamed it again by now. And what would these things be,” asked the Nazgul Lord, his curiosity piqued.<BR><BR>“Why, your weapons and your crown of course. You do remember dropping them, don’t you?”<BR><BR>Biting back a foul remark, the Witch-King kicked an offending stone out of his path and decided to keep silent as the inner fence of the Morgai began to loom in the distance<BR>
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Postby shagrat23 » Sun Feb 11, 2001 9:43 am

Standing on the Bridge of Cirith Ungol, he could not believe his eyes. The low sun, only an hour after dawn, shone into the black orbs which were sunk far into their sockets, surrounded by leathery flesh. The morning light hurt his eyes a lot more than it would have in the old days, and at first he thought what he saw was some illusion or trick of the light. <BR><BR>But then, the reason he had come over the Ephel Duath, had been the noises, and strange clouds in the East he'd seen the previous evening...<BR><BR>Over a hundred years he'd lived in the Morgul Vale, scavenging for grubs of food, hiding in cracks in the rocks. Occasionally he'd ventured into the hills of Ithilien, to set snares for rabbits, but the Men had come quickly and with the help of the cursed Eldar had cleaned all trace of Mordor from the land. Now the villages of Men were everywhere, and a lone orc stumbling into a hunting party would not be expected to live long!<BR><BR>Sometimes he had wondered at that. Most of these men would never have seen an orc. Would they kill him if found? It was not out of the question that they might mistake him for a poor beggar, or wanderer from far away lands, but that would only work at a distance - his mottled brown and green flesh would give him away as non-human at once. More of a worry were the Elves. Some of the Wood-Elves from the North had moved to Ithilien, and <i>they</i> were sure to remember what orcs looked like. <BR><BR>So he seldom ventured far from the mountains. Once he had managed to ambush a young elf, out wandering in the hills - probably exploring the Haunted Valley to show his bravery to his friends.<BR><BR>He smiled at the memory. Elf-flesh tasted so much better than beetles and thrush eggs. He had kept the young elf's ears on a string around his neck for several days, letting them dry out. He had tasted the Waybread of Men, but he knew that the anticipation of nibbling a dried elf ear could keep him going on the march for much longer than honey-cakes. <BR><BR>The Elves and Men had come looking for their lost child, but he knew the mountains certainly as well as any man, and in the dark he had no rival. So he had led them into the valley, and up into Cirith Ungol, where they had stopped. They would not follow him into that place. Indeed there was still an air of death around the place. <BR><BR>He had been careful not to enter her lair. He knew that she was still alive. He had seen her from far away one night. He knew that when it came to food, she would eat orc as easily as he would eat beetles. He knew that hunger makes no-one fussy...<BR><BR>So he had lived on scraps of meat and insects for over a century. A proud captain of Mordor reduced to scavenging in nests and under rocks. But now he knew that everything was about to change. As he looked at the rebuilt Barad-Dûr, casting it's long shadow seemingly right to the Black Gates, he knew that someone had returned. Not the Master, for he would have felt the call of the Master if he had returned. But certainly one of the mighty. Perhaps even a Nazgûl. <BR><BR>One hundred years alone had turned him slightly mad, but had given him ample time to plan for this day. Every day he had thought of how best to seek retribution from the Elves. Now he knew that the time had come to put his thoughts into practice.<BR><BR>His mouth cracked open into a cruel parody of a grin, exposing four crooked teeth. <BR><BR>"Heheh heh..."
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Postby nazgul_lord » Sun Feb 11, 2001 2:21 pm

<i>The Lord of the Nazgul, now lord only of himself, he thought, mused to himself. In the voice of the Black Tower, he heard something of his Master's voice, and felt the ancient compulsion to obey. Still, he thought, there is something else there, something unfamiliar. Nonetheless, he thought best to obey the voice for now, in the hopes of restoring Mordor to it's former strength, to restore the fear of the Nazgul to the wretched Men of the world. When his blade and crown were restored to him, then they would know fear once again, for the Nazgul would ride the winds once more. <BR><BR>A question presented itself to him with that thought, and he posed it to the voice of Barad-dur:</i><BR><BR>"There are many things that must be done to restore Mordor to glory. I will seek this Tempest woman you speak of. After that, I would go looking for my brothers. Some must surely continue to exist, for, as my presence shows, the Nazgul are not so easily killed. My search, for Tempest and my fellow Wraiths, would be made easier if I had a steed. I wonder, are there any of the Wings of Death in this world? They were a rare kind before I...before I...slept, and I would wish to have one if they still exist."<BR>
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Postby Barad-dur » Sun Feb 11, 2001 3:22 pm

"Yes, a few Fell Beasts exist still, in the cold and high places above the reaches of the Grey Mountains, where mortal men fear to tread. Remember however, that secrecy is our strongest ally for now. Having you flying about on a winged steed might raise more than a few eyebrows. Be patient, we must bide our time," the voice of Barad-dur replied to the wraith's question. Noticing that the Nazgul had stopped following, the spirit stopped.<BR><BR>“Why do you delay?” asked Barad-dur.<BR><BR>“I told you, I do not enjoy moving about in this cursed sunlight. My powers are not yet fully restored and this light causes me pain,” the Wraith King replied testily, remembering a time when all of Mordor was under an impenetrable cloud cover that diffused the brilliance of Arien’s foul orb.<BR><BR>“I understand your discomfort but there is no help for it now. You will grow stronger with time and already your ring shields you more than you know. Come, one more bridge to cross and we shall be under the soothing shadows of the Ephel Duath,” the spirit continued on.<BR><BR>As they wound their way up the tortuous path, the shadows lengthened as the noonday sun passed over the mountains to cast its glorious light over the fair lands of Ithilien beyond. Higher they climbed into the cold and inhospitable heights, tireless in their journey.<BR>A movement from above made the Witch-King pause and he looked up to its source. There, fluttering weakly in the early afternoon breeze, was something that filled the Ringwraith with a burning rage. Thrusting one arm forward, the wraith cursed as he pointed at the sable pennant, proudly bearing the symbol of the Silver Tree and Seven Stars with a High crown set above them.<BR><BR>“How dare they?” the wraith shook lividly with anger. Throwing caution to the wind and passing swiftly over the stone path, the Lord of the Nazgul came around one last spur of rock to rest his glare upon a squat, three-tiered tower that rested upon a shoulder of the Mountains of Shadow, its topmost turret with its cursed flag commanding an open view of the valley far below. Whitewashed walls of strong stone stood imposing guard over a pass that led deeper west into the mountains. The wraith nodded with bitter satisfaction as he took note of the deserted ramparts, the dark gaping windows, and the silent and empty road that led to the closed gates. Extending his supernatural senses outward into the structure, the wraith felt no life within.<BR><BR>“Behold Barad-Dacil, the Tower of the Victor, once known as the Tower of Cirith Ungol. As near a monument to their vainglory as they dared to erect in our land you shall not find. See there, where once stood the Watchers?” the spirit prompted to the silent wraith. The Black Captain’s gaze locked upon the hated forms of his enemies, immortalized in marble, standing in arrogant defiance upon the very border of his Master’s sacred land. With cold determination the Witch-King walked up to the first statue and locked stares with the stone likeness of King Elessar.<BR>“Meddlesome ranger! I should have dragged you back before my Master to an eternity of torment when I first met you upon Amon Sul that long ago evening. Now death has taken you beyond my grasp, but your seed shall not escape my fell vengeance,” and with that the Ringwraith placed both his hands around the statue’s head. His ring pulsed faintly with sorcerous power as the wraith channelled the energy into the stone beneath his fingers. A tiny crack appeared around the smiling marble lips of King Elessar and soon his benevolent countenance was riddled with a fine network of spidery cracks. Allowing more of his hatred to worm its way into the stone, the Nazgul’s scornful laughter echoed about the Pass as the marble statue finally shattered into a thousand fine fragments. Stepping over to the second statue, that of a breathtakingly beautiful Eldar woman that the wraith did not immediately recognize, he heaved with all of his otherworldly strength and toppled it from its base. The head of the statue broke clean off with a loud crack, the serene expression and slightly sad eyes sightlessly staring upwards at the Black Captain. Something in that look disturbed him deeply and he recognized at last the source of his discomfort.<BR>“Well, well, I see now the likeness you bear to the accursed Elrond!” he hissed as he bent to pick up the head. Had he still the ability to do so, he would have spat in the woman’s face. As it was, he contented himself by casting the stone head far down into the rocks of the valley below.<BR><BR>“Feeling better now?” asked the bemused Barad-dur as the wraith strode back, a menacing grin upon his fleshless lips.<BR><BR>“Much,” replied the Lord of Morgul.<BR><BR>“Good, because we have an audience,” the spirit returned calmly. “Up there, on that ridge. A single orc.”<BR>
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Postby shagrat23 » Sun Feb 11, 2001 4:33 pm

The combat senses which had been ground into him in the legions of Mordor, and his more recently aquired survival instincts from hiding in the mountains both screamed at him at the same time. He had been spotted by the two shapes below him.<BR><BR>One was a Nazgûl, he was sure sure of that. He had seen them unrobed before. He had been on guard duty in the Dark Tower the day that two of the Ringwraiths had reurned from the debacle at Bruinen. The other shape was not familiar to the eye, but the presence, or rather the <i>mood</i> of it seemed familiar...<BR><BR>Rather than trying to hide when it was obvious that he had been spotted, he reached into his backpack, and removed the precious item he had been lugging around the Ephel Dúath for more than a century. The three sections of the pole fit together using brass locking cylinders, and the rest had survived the rain larely intact inside the leather pack. What damage there was had been inflicted during the mayhem at Pelennor. It was only by swimming the bloodied waters of Anduin, and reaching the far bank that he had survived that day, where most had perished. He had found it washed up on the East shore, and had spent ten precious minutes hacking off the straps which still attached it to a drowned orc. The next day, he had been unable to think of a reason for taking it, and as he had started the lonely march back to the Barad-Dûr, he had almost cast it aside. He <i>had</i> kept it, though, even after watching the devestation of Orodruin and the collapse of the tower from the pass of Cirith Ungol, arriving back too late to serve The Master further, but alive because he was late. <BR><BR>Now, as he looked down on the Nazgûl which had just shattered a tonne of rock with it's mind, and the unknown yet familiar shadow beside it, he suddenly knew why he had kept it all these years. Finishing the last knot, he raised the twelve feet of pole into the air. The black flag fluttered once in the wind, and then caught, and the Red Eye flew over Mordor for the first time in the Fourth Age.
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Postby Tempest » Sun Feb 11, 2001 9:29 pm

Tempest watched the orcs across the fire as they fought over the scrapes of meat left over from their meal. She sighed and rose, perching herself on a stony incline and gazing off into the forest. A large shadow separated itself from the orcs and loomed above her. <i>"It is time to move on?"</i> a deep voice rumbled.<BR><BR><i>"Yes. The elves and men are wary of us in these parts now. It is only a matter of time before they hunt us down,"</i> she answered without enthusiasm. <BR><BR><i>"I, too, have noticed that the victories have been smaller, and our casualties greater,"</i> the mighty troll replied. She nodded.<BR><BR><i>"There are so few of us left. Perhaps Gondor will be kinder to us. I hear that the men there travel without fear, even with large caravans."</i> She turned and smiled at the creature towering above her, and it returned a wicked grin of its own.<BR><BR><i>"Then we will give them something to fear,"</i> he rumbled. <i>"We leave at dawn!"</i><BR><BR><BR>
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Postby Sauron's_Nagging_Wife » Mon Feb 12, 2001 1:53 am

To the small band of Fair Folk who approached the gate, singing and calling out words of greeting in their clear, musical voices, the elven lamps around the entrance to the Grey Havens lent the twilight a welcoming warmth.<BR><BR>The lady in blue, Legrace, watched from a nearby copse of beech trees. She leaned against the trunk of one of the trees and smiled to herself in the deep shadows of her hood. In the past, she had sometimes gone among them, and her memories amused her. „Pretty elf princes,“ she reminded herself with a chuckle.<BR><BR>There would be no princes here now, and, besides, Cirdan was there, she knew, preparing to ferry his passengers across the sea. He might know her with his sharp old eyes. At the very least, he would be suspicious, and she did not now want to waste any time and effort on one so humorless. Besides, she knew of a pair of young elf lords surpassing fair, who had refused to remove across the sea. What fun such tender princelings would be! <BR><BR>Yet, there would be time for that later, she assured herself. Now, she had to discover the truth. What was really happening in the east?<BR>
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Postby Barad-dur » Mon Feb 12, 2001 3:28 am

The Nazgul turned swiftly, just in time to observe the orc hoisting up the banner bearing the symbol of the Lidless Eye. The sight of the pathetic grovelling creature, grinning hopefully as it displayed its allegiance struck the wraith profoundly. An emotion that he had long thought vanished from his undead soul welled up suddenly within his chest: pride. Perhaps this strange spirit whose lead he followed was right. Perhaps there was hope after all.<BR><BR>Peering more closely at the banner, the Witch-King discerned a smaller symbol beneath the Eye. The pair of crossed scimitars identified this standard as belonging to the Twenty-third Horde, Eleventh Mass. <BR>Detail Bravo, if he correctly deciphered the orcish scrawl beneath the numerals. The wraith dimly recalled this as being one of the detachments under his command as his forces chased the Gondorians from the ruined crossing at Osgiliath. Detail Bravo had been instrumental in ferrying the bulk of the armies of Mordor across the Anduin. Judging by the tattered remnants of the orc’s uniform, his insignia proclaimed him to be a captain.<BR><BR>“Come down here, Snaga!” the wraith ordered in a tone that brooked no argument.<BR><BR>The orc wasted no time in obeying that command. Tucking the banner beneath one crooked arm, the creature quickly and nimbly made its way down to the waiting pair. Never daring to look up, the orc laid the banner down respectfully and prostrated himself at the feet of the Ringwraith.<BR><BR>The wraith regarded the orc silently for a moment and then spoke, its chilling voice and the nearness of its presence freezing the very blood in the orc’s veins. It was a testament and credit to the creature’s loyalty and devotion that it did not cry out in fear at that moment and run off. It was that bravery that saved its life as the wraith nodded approvingly.<BR><BR>“What is your name, Snaga?”<BR><BR>“Shagrat, my Lord,” the orc rasped in a voice rusty from disuse.<BR><BR>“A common enough name for an orc, but no matter. Before you can presume to give your allegiance to me, you must perform a small and simple task,” the wraith intoned.<BR><BR>“Anything Master, anything!” the orc sank even lower to the ground as it fawned in obedience.<BR><BR>“Climb to the top of that tower then, and cast down that abhorrent flag. Set the one that you have brought me in its place. Do this and return here," the Black Captain ordered.<BR><BR>The orc got up and smiled, his four lone teeth leaning crookedly in his mouth. This was one task Shagrat would perform with glee. Standing silently throughout the whole exchange, the spirit of the Dark Tower watched the orc run off towards the fortress. It was Barad-dur’s turn to nod approvingly. Yes, things were off to a good start indeed.<BR>
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Postby Terry D » Mon Feb 12, 2001 10:30 am

Lingering shadows danced dark, cool, shades on the forest's carpet. Ferns, moss, and fallen leaves fashioned a haven of peace for the weary. Beneath one tree, upon a verdant niche of shadows and leafy bed,.. lay the form of a man. Cloaked in grey-green folds his shape was shrouded with the hint of mystery. So was his life, not so his future. For, the musky fragrance of deep-forest breezes had whispered the lounging mystery asleep. And, with its tender, perfumed song the breeze brought a dream. This dream quickly turned to nightmare....<BR><BR>"Elurin,.." the forest whispered in dream. "Lost heir, of the lost heir of Dior Eluchil, come and awaken. Trace your shadow upon the living. Now is your time,.. the Gathering Storm your place. Come awaken..."<BR><BR>Shadows stirred into deeper darkness beneath the sleeper's cozy reverie. The Half-elven wanderer had lead a solitary life. His father, Elurin, was lost in the assault on Menegroth. His mother a village maiden, uncommon in her beauty, yet, common-born of gardener's kin. Alas, true to the tragic House of Elwe, this maid was left unwed. She had held her child and sang elven-song to companion his sleep. She whispered tales of Beren Erchamion, the hero strong and fair. She had woven verse of Luthien Tinuviel, to amuse her growing child's wandering mind. There were tales of the Sindar and of the Edain. There were her stories of Greycloak, the Hidden King. All to entertain and soothe her child in love. All to remind him of his dual birth, his common-regal lineage.<BR><BR>The sadness of the woman's heart could not compete with the loss of her love, Elurin. For the elf had promised her redemption and a place among his elven kin. Not to be, for lost was Elurin, forgotten his trysting pledge. <BR><BR>Upon her death bed she had lain and gave the child a name,.. "Trace, from this day ever be. No longer will you be tied to my property. Your father of elven blood desired you to be called Trace. Remember that my child." Then, she had clouded her eyes and emptied her soul into the haven of death. She was released from her great joy and greater sorrow.<BR><BR>Trace, the half-elven, slept fitfully among his dreamy reverie. Hanging branches creaked, as if full of grief. Leafy carpet murmured in fluttering sympathy. Haunting rumors of a Gathering Storm plagued the elf-man's tormented soul, with a flight of pestilence and doubt....
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Postby Nerdanel » Mon Feb 12, 2001 11:16 am

An albatross flew over the vast and empty expanse of Belegaer, the Great Sea. It was a good day to fly. Sunlight glittered on the waves and the foam that flew diamond-like from the prow of the small ship. The ship...? The albatross knew the seas had been deserted only moments before. Still it had not sensed anything out of place happening and could not remember how the ship had arrived, even though the bird had been watching that patch of the ocean all the time.<BR><BR>The albatross scooped down to get a closer look of the strange ship. The ship was finely made to the likeness of a white swan. It was steered by a beautiful woman with dark hair the reddish tinge of which was rare among her people, the Noldor. The woman had a cloak the color of misty mornings over a dress of gleaming black and silver. On her belt there was a sword and a dagger.<BR><BR>Lady Nerdanel saw the shore of the Middle-earth as a dark line in the horizon. She steered her ship towards it. As she got closer she saw she had drifted off the course at some point. She had aimed at the Grey Havens, but she had reached the shore somewhere else. This was the first time she had tried in practice the navigation skills she had learned from the Teleri.<BR><BR>There was an abandoned haven that was in good enough shape for her small ship. Nerdanel landed there. She did not feel like sailing up and down the coast looking for something better. The air of Middle-earth felt so different from the stuff she had used to. It was full of growth and decay and urgency. Nerdanel hid the ship in a thicket of reeds and, after a dinner out of her provisions, set on her way, a blue-glowing crystal lamp lighting her way in the deepening night.
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Postby Terry D » Mon Feb 12, 2001 12:14 pm

The forest’s dream was a wraithlike song, an embrace of terror and heroic doom. Deeper, the tenuous night-memory twisted in echoes of dispair. Darker, the images hunched as predator seeking prey. Hungry, vicious images, textured with venomous desire, molested Trace’s nauseous sleep, as if feeding upon the starving poor. <BR><BR>Voices, horrible, tormented, sang in a chorus of oblivion,.. resounding in torment in the half-elven soul. Incoherent phrasings,.. disoriented stutterings,..“Over the nations of the North,.. whose nobles shread the poor man’s lamb to feed their feasts with hearty fare. Who shut the wanton poor from table fair. Swarm with me, orcan might, thus ‘it shall come to pass, that the Hosts of Mordor shall gather once more before the Tower of Darkness. For Barad-Dur shall rise again, its dark and majestic glory brought once again to unholy life, and from its gates shall issue forth…’<BR><BR>Trace writhed in stagnant passivity. His dreaming soul, rift of sanity, dwelt among the desolate pleasures of maurauding havoc. The pleading voices of children crying for bread,.. a tyrant’s howl roused as a giant from slumberous caverns,.. spectral, beneath these voices, undulating wails rolled in brooding tempests, numerous as the children of blood. The nightmare rushed as a trampling of horse and clanging armour. Then demon child and devil bride with soulless weeping cried, as thousand lives drink thousand deaths, in toast of vengeance pride! Then ghosts as wolves on wintry night, prowl greedily on heath’s of gore. And, goblin wade sodden feet along a blood-soaked shore!<BR><BR>The clutching terror of the dream strangled the half-elven sleeper as if strangulation was what he desired… then, armies stand in balance, within the All Mighty Hand. The skies shake and the seas war,.. ‘til silence drifts as dust upon the barren land….<BR><BR>…suddenly the dream emptied into sentient awareness. Trace lept to his feet. Urgency plagued his every move. His demenaour was cold and hard. Leaves crunched beneath his soft boots. Then, the forest breeze, in silence kissed the droplets of iced perspiration above Trace’s quivering lips….<BR><BR>
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Postby Gilaglar » Mon Feb 12, 2001 2:48 pm

<i>The worst thing about this job, is the climb!</i> Gilaglar thought to himself.<BR><BR>Summoned to Círdan at four in the morning, he had been given instructions, and had set off on his journey within half an hour. Luckily, the trip wasn't far. Just over 20 miles from Mithlond, the Towers of Gilgalad were just an hour's hard ride away. The problem was climbing the hundreds of steps to the room he needed. <BR><BR>He was the only one allowed in the room. Feldor - the elderly caretaker of the towers - kept the key to the door, but it would take more than just the key to open it.<BR><BR>After Feldor unlocked the door, Gilaglar pressed his palm flat on the wooden surface and spoke a spell. The words seemed to have no effect on the door, until a series of Mithril moon-letters appeared on the arch above the door. The elegantly traced tengwar described to Gilaglar the rest of the process of unlocking the door. He already knew what to do though, and spoke today's password.<BR><BR>"Lúmequentalë!" He cried, and the door drifted back silently. Gilaglar passed inside into the dark room at the top of the tower. Feldor pulled the door closed behind the seer, and the lock clicked, sealing the chamber once again. <BR><BR>Gilaglar waited until his eyes grew acustomed to the darkness, then found the ladder which led up to the viewing platform above. He climbed up slowly, still reflecting that he should be asleep 20 miles away and several hundred feet lower down. The viewing platform was an eight-sided room with a domed ceiling supported by eight narrow pillars - effectively meaning the room had no walls. In the centre of the room was a large object hidden under a velvet shroud. The wind whistled through the chamber, much faster and cooler than it had been on the ground, and the chill removed the last traces of sleep from the elf's mind. <BR><BR>Working quickly, he loosened the fastenings on the shroud, and pulled it off. He quickly wrapped the heavy velvet cloth around himself to help keep out the wind. He looked at the dark crystal sitting on it's dias, and wondered at the powers which had crafted the palantíri ages ago. This one had been presumed lost, until it had been found by King Elessar deep in a vault in Minas Arnor. It had apparently been taken there by Gilgalad as the Last Alliance marched on Mordor so long ago. The King had returned it to the White Towers as a means of communicating with the people of his Northern Kingdom, and Círdan had chosen Gilaglar to be the Warden of the Stone. <BR><BR>As he bent his mind on the crystal, he slowly paced around the room. He started on the east side, looking just south of west, until he could see the Havens below, then walked clockwise around the crystal, looking north and finally east to the Shire.<BR><BR>He always started in this manner, focusing his mind by viewing the familiar, before moving on to the task at hand. <BR><BR>Slowly, he <i>pushed</i> with his mind, and the vision moved farther east, passing Bree, until he could see the valley of Rivendell. Although Vilya, the ring of saphire, no longer preserved the valley, it was still a place of beauty in the wild lands. He caught a glimpse of an elf standing on the terrace, deep in thought, before the vision moved on, creeping ever closer to the Misty Mountains. <BR><BR>Gilaglar took a large sidestep to his left, moving the image to the south, where he had been instructed to look. The Misty Mountains scrolled past, and he caught the first glimpse of dawn reflecting off Caradhras. His mind passed over the mountains, and he saw the Golden Wood, abandoned after Galadriel and Nenya had left Middle Earth. <BR><BR>Following Anduin down it's course, he skirted past the Emyn Muil, and Rohan, along the White Mountains, until the dark shapes of the mountains of shadow crept into his vision, their tips highlighted by the blood-red dawn behind them. <BR><BR>He seemed to soar over the black peaks, and looked down on Mordor, seeing the desolate land stretching out for leagues. Although the Men of Gondor had relaxed their watch, Círdan was not so eager to be caught out again. This was the third time he had sent Gilaglar off to the tower at a seemingly random time, looking for anything unusual in Mordor. <BR><BR>Gilaglar was about to move on, and look for more general tidings, when a shape seemed to move in the corner of his vision. Finely tuning his alignment with the stone, Gilaglar focused on the area around the ruined Dark Tower. The speck which had moved filled out to almost take the form of a man, wrapped in a black cloak, kneeling before the chasm. Gilaglar watched intently, as the shape raised it's arms, and it took him a few seconds to notice the obvious -- the creature had no hands. The full significance did not strike him however, until the creature stood, and pulled back the hood of its cape. The sight of the two red eyes, peering out of empty space sent a chill up Gilaglar's spine, but he knew what he had to do. He opened his senses to the <i>other</i> world - the world where elves exist as beings of radiance and flame - for the first time in hundreds of years. There he could see the grey features of the Witch King, and even as Gilaglar recognised him, he saw the ring on his hand, and he knew that the One must still exist somehow.<BR><BR>The vision faded so suddenly that Gilaglar stepped back, and was only stopped from falling to his death below by the thin metal bar which reached around the room at chest height. He realised that he had closed his eyes, and was nearly blinded by the sunlight streaming into the exposed chamber as he opened them. <BR><BR>Shaking off the odd feeling that he had dreamed all that he had seen, he climbed down the ladder and opened the door to the staircase. He stepped outside, paused to seal the door again, and quickly started to descend the many stairs of the Tower, a freshly awoken Feldor - looking bemused by the sudden urgence - in tow.<BR><BR>"Feldor, send one of the boys to Círdan as soon as possible, to deliver this note!" Gilaglar explained as he finished writing and sealing the scroll. "And make sure that Roninscot is there when the contents of the scroll are discussed! I myself must ride east and south now. I do not know if the things I have seen this morning have occurred, or have yet to happen, but I must race to Gondor to find out!"<BR><BR>As he mounted his horse, he handed his friend the scroll, and without pausing to say farewell, he spurred the horse into action, and set off towards the Shire...
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Postby shagrat23 » Mon Feb 12, 2001 5:20 pm

Climbing the tower was the easy part. With his claw-like talons, Shagrat23 could easily grip the cracks between bricks, and years of living rough in the mountains had honed his climbing skills to an art. The tricky part was untying the rope that the men had used to raise their banner. The elven yarn seemed to bite into his flesh as he struggled with it. <BR><BR>Eventually, he lowered the offending flag, and using his own rope, he raised the Lidless Eye where it belonged once more. Instead of climbing back down the outside of the tower, he entered the structure through a hatch in the roof. There could be food left in the tower, even the foul waybread of the Beornings would have been welcome in Shagrat's belly at the moment. Climbing down the winding stairs, he stopped to quickly check in most of the rooms which he thought could hold something of interest. One room held a considerable store of flour and grain, but he didn't have the time, or the inclination, to stop and cook with a Nazgûl waiting downstairs.<BR><BR>He did find the well, and stopped to fill his flask after drinking deeply from the bucket. The water tasted better than he remembered, perhaps the men had cleaned the well. In another room he discovered something a lot more interesting. A few weapons were lying about on a table. Shagrat had lost his scimitar as he swam the Great River, and had had only his knife left for all the time he had wandered in the hills. It was now dull and notched, and badly in need of replacement. He picked out a long hunting knife with a bone handle, and a leather sheath, and swapped them for his old models. There was a small round shield as well, which he slung over his shoulder. There were a few swords lying around, but they were all the straight broadswords which men preferred in these parts. Figuring that beggars (and thieves) couldn't be choosers, Shagrat fixed one of the blades to his pack. <BR><BR>He was about to leave when something else caught his eye. The Nazgûl Lord and the other strange presence had been heading West when he saw them. They were probably going at least as far as the Tower of Sorcery, but if they were going any further, and if they were taking Shagrat with them, he would need a disguise. He lifted a large green cloak, and just barely managed to stuff it into his pack.<BR><BR>He had a last look around the armoury, lifted a few odds and ends like a whetstone, and ran for the main door. <BR><BR>No sense in displeasing this Nazgûl on his first assignment...<BR>
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Postby Barad-dur » Mon Feb 12, 2001 5:35 pm

The flag of the reunited kingdoms came fluttering down from atop Barad-Dacil to rest a few yards away from the Lord of the Nazgul. The wraith glanced at it and walked over, picking up the cloth in his invisible hands. As he stared at the hated symbols, the Ringwraith considered the deeper significance behind them.<BR><BR>“So,” he mused to himself, “Aragorn, the impudent cur actually succeeded! Elendil’s dream come to fruition at last. A pity it shall not last. As the Witch-King of Angmar, I laboured for seventy-five and six hundred years to disintegrate Arnor and its petty successor states. If you think I will see that task come to naught, you are gravely mistaken, old friend. If you have dared to rebuild Arnor once again, I shall crush it its infancy as I have done before,” the wraith muttered angrily.<BR><BR>“Oh, he has dared alright,” teased the spirit of Barad-dur. “Even as we speak, the streets of restored Annuminas teem with men eager to resettle the north. That same flag you hold flutters proudly from the spires of Fornost Erain, and even Tharbad is being rebuilt once again. King Elessar wasted no time reclaiming the lands of his ancestors. He has done far more damage in your absence than you believe possible,” Barad-dur concluded, turning to regard Shagrat, the orc just now finishing tying the banner of Mordor upon the high pole. As the orc captain began to climb down, the essence of the Dark Tower shifted his attention to the Black Captain. The wraith was regarding the spirit intently, trying to gauge exactly how much it knew and how much it was not telling him. After a few tense moments, the Nazgul Lord lost all semblance of control, patience never having been one of his strongest virtues.<BR><BR>“If you and I are going to work together, you must tell me what you know. I grow weary of this game you play,” the wraith thundered suddenly, his booming voice echoing from the walls of the Pass of Cirith Ungol. “I am the Dark Lord’s first and most trusted servant! I will not be led about by a spirit who plays at riddles. You shall tell me everything, and you shall tell me now!”<BR><BR>The Ringwraith took a step closer toward the spirit, one hand raised, the First of the Nine Rings glimmering dangerously upon his finger. The spirit did not even flinch as the wraith’s hand, its grip as chill as the icy exhalation from a thousand open graves, fastened itself around Barad-dur’s unseen throat. Any mortal man or even one of the Firstborn would have perished immediately from that withering touch, the wraith’s cursed flesh imparting the pain and despair borne by centuries of undying agony. But the spirit of Barad-dur was neither. Created long thousands of years ago by the power of the Ruling Ring wielded by Sauron himself, the spirit was the immortal amalgamation of the mighty will of the Dark Lord, the corrupting evil of the One Ring, and the vast physical and impregnable strength of the Tower of Mordor.<BR>The gemstone upon the wraith’s Ring blazed with power, fed by the burning rage of the Morgul Lord. Eldritch and sorcerous energies flowed between the wraith and the spirit, the Ring acting as a conduit for the tremendous power being expended.<BR><BR>As he came out the tower door bearing his new gear, Shagrat’s outthrust jaw gaped open as the two combatants continued locked in their deadly struggle before him. Nearly losing his balance, Shagrat leaned weakly against the gate or his jaw wouldn’t be the only thing dropping. The orc had seen many strange things during his long life but never anything like this. As he continued to watch, the two forms seemed to gain momentary substance, the energy flowing through them lending solidity to their tenebrous forms. The Witch-King’s features were contorted with rage, the flesh on his proud Numenorean face stretched and pale with the agonizing wait of countless centuries for the Gift of Death which would never come. Tall and powerful of build he was, towering over the spirit, and his body was clad in armour fashioned of black plates of Sea-drake skin. Upon his head was a Numenorean Sea-helm, its overlapping plates ending in a spiny crown, a slight variation of the karma design used by the Uinendil Captains of Numenor. Terrible was he to behold as a hellish-red glow shone form his eyes and waves of fear and despair flowed from his form like a horrifying emanation of darkness to beat upon the helpless orc.<BR>To the observing orc, the spirit of Barad-dur resembled that of a man only in its basic shape. It had two arms, two legs, and a head, but its entire form was akin to a yawning black pit of oblivion that sucks out light around it. No features could be discerned except for a pair of eyes that blazed forth with a blinding white brilliance that defied the darkness of the void beyond its soulless depths.<BR>After what seemed like an eternity with neither opponent giving an inch of ground, the Witch-King’s strength gave out at last. The light from his Ring going out with a flash, the wraith released his grip upon the spirit’s neck and collapsed to his knees, head bowed. Slowly fading from view, the Ringwraith slipped once again into the world of shadows. This was one foe he could not defeat, came the bitter thought to the weary wraith’s mind.<BR><BR>“I am not your foe. The sooner you drop that foolish notion, the quicker we can consolidate our power and restore Mordor to its rightful place as the sovereign kingdom of Middle-Earth,” Barad-dur responded calmly, extending one hand to the kneeling Nazgul.<BR><BR>Looking up at the hand, the wraith considered the words for some time. At last, setting aside wounded pride to make way for the glory of Mordor, the Black Captain took the offered hand in a firm grasp and climbed steadily to his feet once more.<BR><BR>An understanding and bond was forged at that moment that would endure until eternity’s end.<BR>
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Postby roninscot2 » Mon Feb 12, 2001 6:38 pm

Winter had been slow in loosening it's grip. Rime encrusted the riggings of the swan ships along the quays of the Grey Havens. The morning was bleak and cold, wind whipping at the bright blue banners lining the walls of the main keep. The gates leading from the chambers of Cirdan opened onto a small courtyard with stables and blacksmith. Four horses sat in the courtyard, three with rider, and the fourth lazily stamping at the frosted soil. They all faced the arched tunnel leading through the keeps wall, the road continuing from the wall towards the shipyards and mills and on past to the beginning of the great East-West Road, and the rest of Middle-earth beyond.<BR><BR>Gelmir turned to the elf on his right and said,"How should I know how long we must wait? After the messenger from the Towers last night the whole garrison has been talked to and watches have been increased. We'll wait here for the Captain until he comes, however long that is." <BR><BR>The other two elves simply looked down and nodded as they all waited for the Captain of the Havens. <BR><BR>Inwir of the House of Fingolfin was born in the Light of the Two Trees in the eight and fortieth year after the arrival of the Noldor in Valinor. Born of noble parents, and cousin to Fingolfin, Inwir was compelled to follow his liege-lord back to Middle-earth on that fateful day in Tirion and brought his wife Lindedhel and their son Turond. Inwir hoped to know what mysterys the vast lands of his peoples birth held, to have his family at his side as he aided the struggle against the Morgoth. This was a threat to the entire fabric of Arda, and if no one else was going to stand against Morgoth Bauglir, then the Noldor would. Inwirs' father and mother both perished in the crossing of the ice. His wife in the Nirnaeth Arnoediad. His son in defense of the Lady Elwing at the mouths of Sirion against the sons of Feanor. Inwir had nothing left to give Middle-earth, but could not bring himself to return to the bliss of Valinor. He could no longer comprehend bliss and wanted no part of it.<BR><BR>At the end of the First age he stayed in Mithlond, aiding the armies of Gil-galad against the forces of Sauron during the Dark Years and went south for the Last Alliance. In the third age he became the Captain of the Havens after the former captain, Hildor, was slain in 1974 T.A. during the campaigns of Angmar to overtake the north once again. The Sindar of Mithlond did not mind being led by a Noldo and during the winters' fighting, Inwir had earned the name 'Draunimion', the White Wolf. Always at the forefront of battle, Inwir would at times seem fey, plunging into the ranks of orcs, swinging his bunnyslipper sword with almost reckless fury, or hunting small bands through the frozen forests and rollings hills of the north. Only Inwir knew that his true desire was to finally go to the Halls of Mandos and join his beloved wife and son. But he could not simply waste away in grief. He would let his hate carry him to his dream.<BR><BR>Inwir Draunimion walked through the gates of the keep and mounted his horse Ringsule. He turned and nodded to Gelmir as they all began to trot towards the main road. After councils all night, the last thing Inwir wanted to do for the next week was ride non-stop across Eriador, but they must reach the sons of Elrond with the news of the Palantir. Inwir had considered staying to assist in the heigtening of the defenses of the Havens, but decided he would take the trip himself. That, and Cirdan had TOLD him he was going. Cirdan was a wise and fair Lord, but was a shipwright first. He thought methodically and brooched no argument contrary to his final decisions. Therefore Inwir was on his way to Imladris with a quick stop at Anumminas to speak to the representatives of King Eldarion, concerning the matter of the visions by Gilaglar. He felt a chill in the ocean air that was not just the fog. As he and his companions galloped down the road towards the Tower Hills, Inwir felt 'old' for the first time in his life.
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Postby Tempest » Mon Feb 12, 2001 7:54 pm

It was dark as the party wove its way through the forest toward the edge of Mirkwood. If any had seen them go, they would have marveled at the odd mixture of characters within the group. Gruff looking orcs pushed and snarled at one another while following the large body of a mighty troll. A few men carrying long bows strolled leisurely behind the bickering orcs and next to the troll strode a fair woman, dressed in the armor of Rohan. Each had a past that drove them to hate Middle Earth and its inhabitants, and all wished for nothing more than freedom and vengeance against their enemies. <BR><BR>Long had they dwelt in Mirkwood, attacking and plundering travelers. Since their numbers were small, they were hard to catch and detect. But times were changing. The Mirkwood elves had increased their hunting parties and it was becoming harder and harder to find food. Although they grieved the thought of leaving their hunting grounds, to go south into Gondor would increase their certainty of survival. Besides this, unknown to the others, Tempest had begun to feel an inclination to be near Mordor, as if in anticipation of something she could not understand. <BR><BR>The Firien Wood would serve her purpose well enough for now. The Great West Road traveled through it, so they would have to be careful, but at least they would be certain of finding unsuspecting travelers. <BR><BR>She glanced at Kylab as his feet left large imprints in the soft earth. He was of the black Mordarian race of troll; his skin so dark and hard that the sun did not hurt it as it did his brethern in the Misty Mountains and beyond. He was of an ancient breed, created under the hand of Sauron himself. As far as she knew, he was one of the last of his kind. In an odd twist of fate, the two had become as close to friends as either of their black hearts could allow. They trusted no other in all the world except each other.<BR><BR><i>"Farewell Mirkwood, you have served us well,"</i> Tempest said as they left the security of the trees. Already she felt her steps quickening toward Gondor, memories of Mordor filling her mind.
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Postby Barad-dur » Mon Feb 12, 2001 8:43 pm

The spirit of Barad-dur walked away from the Lord of the Nazgul and Shagrat the orc to stand before a large outcropping of rock at the base of the ancient fortress of Cirith Ungol. With one swift movement, the dark entity leapt up onto the rock, looking beyond the shadowed vales of the Morgai and across the dry and desolate plain of Gorgoroth. His far-seeing gaze settled upon the Dark Tower of Mordor, far off in the darkness of the oncoming night, its brooding presence keeping silent watch over the Black Land like a dutiful sentinel.<BR>Closing his eyes, the spirit raised both arms to the sky and began to chant in Morbeth, the Black Speech of Sauron. Louder and louder the dark words rang, the spirit’s sepulchral voice rising to a frenetic crescendo that made even the watching Ringwraith wince from its intensity. As Shagrat dropped to his knees, hands clamped around his ears, the chant ended with the utterance of five thunderous words: “Ishi i Burzum Marr Ti !”<BR>The spirit lowered both arms to point at Barad-Dur as the booming crash of far off thunder pealed across the clear, late afternoon skies over Mordor. At first Shagrat thought it but a trick of the fading light but as he continued to stare, the Dark Tower shimmered in the distance and faded slowly from view as if its resurrection of the previous evening had never been. Blinking incredulous eyes, the orc struggled to comprehend what he had just witnessed.<BR>Joining the pair waiting down below, the spirit paused to give answer to the wraith’s unspoken question.<BR><BR>“I have sent the Tower into the Land of Shadows for already have I felt probing eyes from afar. The Dunedain of Gondor may rest easy in their sleep but there are others from whose restless vigilance we must cloak our movements. The Tower shall remain unseen to the eyes of any that should chance to look for it. As for those who use other means in their search…” the spirit trailed off as a perfect sphere made of dark-hued crystal about a foot in diameter slowly appeared, cradled in his hands.<BR>The Witch-King approached, the red orbs of his eyes shining with eagerness as he took the object from the spirit’s hands.<BR><BR>“The Ithil Stone,” the wraith whispered reverently, his hand passing over the smooth crystal surface. “Yes,” he hissed with pleasure, “let them look again… let them look again,” he finished with a menacing sneer. Putting away the Palantir that he captured for his Master long ago, the Lord of Morgul turned to Barad-dur. “Onwards to Gondor?” he asked.<BR><BR>“Yes,” came the answer, “but first we must pay someone a little visit.”<BR><BR>“Who?” questioned the wraith as it motioned for Shagrat to follow.<BR><BR>“Never did Mordor have a more effective watchdog than the one who once haunted these mountains. Long has she nursed her wounds and now it is time for her to take up her duties once more,” Barad-dur replied as he began to walk towards the cave openings on the western side of the Tower of Cirith Ungol.<BR><BR>Smiling knowingly, the Black Captain whispered a single word that sent shivers down Shagrat’s crooked spine.<BR><BR>“Shelob.”<BR>
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Postby asaris » Mon Feb 12, 2001 9:27 pm

Benoit stood on a balcony within the fair city of Minas Anor, overlooking the fair city. He was 130 years old this day; a long life for most, perhaps, but Benoit was a descendant of a long line of Dunedain rangers, whose lives were long by the reckoning of other men. He had served the king as a spy and agent in the north for many years after Aragon's coming into his kingship, but 10 years ago he asked Elessar to allow him a more inactive post. The years were weighing heavily on Benoit now, and his grey hair grew ever sparser with each passing year. He was still strong in body and spirit, however, in better condition then men less than half his age. General Benoit, he was now called; his friends, those few he had, called him General Ben. In these peaceful times, the position of general was little more than an honorary one, and most who held similar posts had seen no combat but were only desk officers, sending out the occasional order to butress this unit near Mirkwood, or send a detachment into Forochel. Benoit, however, was one of the few who had seen active service. He had served as a captain in the northern army that still saw action once in a while against various orc tribes, though never anything major, but now...now he was little more than a bureaucrat, pushing papers and filling out forms.<BR><BR>The messenger ran into Benoit's room, breathless from the exertion. He had apparently ran along way, and was quite hurried. "General Benoit, come quickly. The king requests your prescence immediately, it is a matter of great urgency!" <BR><BR>"Run ahead, and tell the king I am coming," Benoit ordered the young boy. "I shall be there presently." Benoit quickly put on his uniform and went down the stair to the king's chambers as quickly as he could manage. Something was apparently badly wrong, but what could it be? It was scarcely half an hour past the appointed time when the king would go to view the palantir, and await any news from the north or east.
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Postby Sauron's_Nagging_Wife » Tue Feb 13, 2001 2:11 am

The rain ran in rivulets down the window as Petunia Goodbody leaned to peer out. Her husband, Peter, was home at last; she saw him unhitch the pony from the wagon and then lead the poor creature into the dry warmth of the barn where there was plenty of fresh hay. Then, with his hat pulled down to his ears and his collar turned up, he hurried to the little house.<BR><BR>„You’re soaked to the skin, like as not,“ said Petunia as she come to help him off with his coat and hang it by the fire. „There’s a mug o’ tea for you, to warm your bones, and supper’ll be ready directly.“<BR><BR>„I saw the queerest thing not ten minutes ago.“ Peter sat down and picked up the mug, wrapping his hands around it to warm them. „One of the Big People walking down our lane, even. Towards the village. A pretty, young lass, very tall. Tall even for the Big People. She laughed and waved to me as I passed.“<BR><BR>„Walking alone?“ asked Petunia in surprise. „One woman? Alone?“<BR><BR>„As I said. Very tall. Mayhaps some elf lass. Tall and lovely, she were.“<BR><BR>„Peter Goodbody, what kind of dunderhead are you? You left a young lass alone out in this weather with night coming on!?“<BR><BR>He blinked at her in surprise. „Well... um... I...“<BR><BR>„Put on your coat this instant and go and beg her to come in for a bite of supper and a warm bed for the night, if she will. And mind you don't go asking after her personal business!"<BR><BR>For a moment, he gaped at her. Then, he blinked. „Her? Here?“<BR><BR>„Go now and don’t let me hear another word from you. Pretty lasses do not wander about alone, especially not in this weather, unless some ill-fortune has befallen them.“<BR><BR>He knew that she spoke the truth: he replaced his coat and hat and ran out to the lane to find her.<BR><BR>It was still light enough for Petunia to watch from the window, and Peter soon returned with a woman wrapped from head to ankle in a cloak. In that brief glance, Petunia judged her to be far too tall to stand up in their house.<BR><BR>When they entered, Petunia was startled by her mistake, for the woman was not much taller than they were. She was small for one of the Big People.<BR><BR>„Welcome, miss,“ she said, going to help her with the cloak. „Come in by the fire and warm yourself.“<BR><BR>„Thank you, mistress,“ said their visitor in the common speech with a slight accent. She pushed down her hood and took off the cloak. She was much older than Peter had said. Although she had remained dry under the cloak, the woman’s hair was mostly grey, her skin lined with years of toil and worry. <BR><BR>Petunia shook her head as she spread the cloak next to the fire to dry. Peter came with his wet coat, but she glared at him. Chastened, he went to hang the dripping coat on a peg near the door.<BR><BR>„It’s not a fit night out for elves or dwarves,“ Petunia quoted.<BR><BR>„You are very kind," said the old woman. Her voice was low and lovely despite its tremor of age.<BR><BR>Petunia turned to study the visitor. Whatever color her hair had been once, it was now so faded by age and sun that the streaks of grey made it look like ashes. Her face was old, careworn, and tired; however, she had fine, dark eyes crinkled with good humor. <i>The windows of a merry soul untouched by years,</i> Petunia thought<BR><BR>„My name is Legrace. I am going south to -- I am going home.“<BR><BR>„Well, as I said, you’re welcome here, Mistress Legrace. I’m Petunia Goodbody, and that’s my husband, Peter. We’ve a wee bit of supper to--“<BR><BR>The air was split by the cry of an infant. Petunia hurried to the cradle in the corner. „There, there, Tom-lad, there’s no reason to cry.“ She lifted the baby in her arms and shushed him.<BR><BR>„May I?“ asked Legrace and, smiling, held out her arms. <BR><BR>„I think he’s hungry.“ Petunia gave him to her.<BR><BR>Legrace laughed a little, and the baby stopped crying and stared at her. „Well met, little master.“<BR><BR>„He likes you,“ said Peter, who had seated himself at the central table. Their visitor cradled the infant against her breast and sang very softly in a strange language. The little one laughed and reached out his chubby arms to her.<BR><BR>Then, she pressed her cheek to the baby’s head and inhaled his scent. For a moment, as Petunia and Peter watched in amazement, a veil of sadness seemed to shroud her. She looked, then, as fair and young as the queens of distant legend with the light of heaven reflected in her face.<BR><BR>Then, it was gone. The tired, old woman returned the child to Petunia. „He will have a long and prosperous life,“ she said with a smile.<BR>
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Postby Nerdanel » Tue Feb 13, 2001 5:15 am

Nerdanel crouched under a tall fir in a rainstorm. She was soaking wet. It had rained more or less steadily since the last night and now not even her fine Elven cloak could keep her dry anymore. Now it was night again, and heavy clouds obscured the stars. For the first time, Nerdanel admitted to herself she was lost in this wilderness.<BR><BR>The feeling was singularily unfamiliar. With the restlessness that had come to her in her later years Nerdanel had grown to know the land of Aman like her own backyard, which was one of the reasons she had wanted to come to Middle-earth. Spiritual growth, thought Nerdanel. There just wasn't it in Valinor past a certain limit, a limit she had long since reached. Everything was safe and easy and predictable.<BR><BR>Nerdanel took an object from her sack and peeled off the cloth that covered it. It was the palantír that her husband Fëanor, now in the Halls of Mandos, had made for her many ages ago. She gazed into its heart and with her will made it show an image of herself looking at the palantír. Then she lifted her viewpoint to see the lay of the land from air. She saw a road nearby and pressed into her mind the landmarks that would enable her to find it. She rose higher over the land and felt the desire to look at faraway lands. She moved her eye to south and east...<BR><BR>Nerdanel broke the connection. If any time was a bad time to amuse herself with a palantír, that was it. She was cold and wet, and she wasn't going to make herself any colder and wetter than she had to by sitting in the rain any longer she had to.<BR><BR>Nerdanel reached the road. Soon she heard the sound of several hooves. A group of Elves was riding towards her. She called at them and asked tidings.
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Postby Terry D » Tue Feb 13, 2001 5:59 am

"Well met, fair lady! We were summoned to escort you. And with trepidation we thought we would be too late." The tall elf gracefully lept from his dappled mount. His glossy black hair cascaded to his shoulders. This elf reminded many of Finwe, the dairk-haired King. Effortlessly he glided to where the Lady Nerdanel waited. She was cautious. Uncertain, for who could have summoned this escort?<BR><BR>"I am called Tintall, of the Golodhrim, these are my kinsmen and friends. All of the house of Fingolfin, cousin to Feanor. We rode with your son Amrod and your youngest son, Amrod's twin, Amras. For a time, we hunted the wide plains of East Beleriand, so long ago. We six will travel at your will. For whatever service you may need of us."<BR><BR>Nerdanel could detect no duplicity in these words. Tintall was truly of the Noldor. Yet, she had never heard of him before. Not so strange, she considered. Those days were a trouble and much travail had consumed her attention. Cautiously,.. "well met Tintall, whom was it that summoned you to my aid?"
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Postby roninscot2 » Tue Feb 13, 2001 8:51 am

Riding hard to the East, Inwir and his companions passed the Tower Hills and followed the sweeping curve of the road as it turned away from the Shire and headed northeast to Annuminas. Most everyone in Eriador respected the ban on travel into the Shire imposed by Elessar, and Inwir knew any information of importance he gave to the Steward of Arnor would reach the Periannth.<BR><BR>The rain was coming down in sheets and Inwir was thinking of trying to find some shelter in the trees for the night, when they rounded a corner and noticed a group of horses and riders along with two people standing by the road talking, about a hundred yards down the road. Instinctively, Inwir loosened his sword and slowed the pace of Ringsule, while Gelmir moved his horse up to parallel his Captain and the other two elves quietly slipped to either the side of the road and into the thickets. Caution had keep the enclave of the Grey Havens safe for two ages.<BR><BR>As Inwir and Gelmir approached the group, Inwir tried to identify the livery and markings on the gear of the riders ahead. The rain was making it difficult to notice detail. He looked to the people standing on the road, and noticed that they were both tall perhaps as tall as himself. He hoped this was just a meeting of companions on the road and not something more sinister. He needed to hurry on to Annuminas.....
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Postby RedMaw » Tue Feb 13, 2001 10:28 am

Inwir hears a howl in the distance.<BR>What? There are no wolves in these lands.<BR><BR>The hairs on the back of his neck stood on end.<BR>Hopefully, the group up ahead was friendly...
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Postby Nerdanel » Tue Feb 13, 2001 12:16 pm

An eerie, ghostlike howl arose in the distance and echoed over the hills. Nerdanel glanced nervously at Tintall who had fallen silent at the sound. "Wolves..." he said with worry and disbelief in his voice. Nerdanel had heard tales of wolves. Her hands went to the hilts of her weapons and she gazed into the night, trying to penetrate the curtain of rain.<BR><BR>Suddenly she saw movement in the dark forest. There were people there. Now they seemed to have decided to come to the road.
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Postby soviet_sauron » Tue Feb 13, 2001 1:10 pm

Night came down on the great deserts of the south. A horse, blacker then coal rode through the land like a sand storm. The rider covered himself with a red cloak and his eyes were blazing like a glowing ember when he crossed the wilderness, to the Capital city of Harad. <BR><BR>Finally he arrived to the Capital. He rode through the wide streets to the palace of the king. <b>Two knocks on the door with a hilt of the sledge hammer</b>. <BR><BR><i>Who is the one who wants to enter the halls of the king?</i><BR>The rider laugh and his red cloak moved like a sea of blood. <BR><i>Ha! a wimp who obsequious to the kings of the west isn't worthy of being called 'king'</i><BR>The voice from the other side answered:<BR><i>Who are you? How do you dares insulting the great king?</i><BR><BR>The door was shattered into pieces when the mysterious rider hit it with his sledge hammer. <BR><i>Im the duke Thangon, ally of Mordor and the true king of Harad!</i><BR><BR>He walked through the corridors, with no one to stand in his way, and came to the hall of the king. three guards jumped on him, trying to stop him but he killed them, one by one. Then he came to the throne hall. The king of Harad, an indefatigable warrior stood up and said: <i>I am the only king! You will pay for your impudence!</i><BR>The king of Harad took his giant sword - 'naugolor'. <BR>They estimated each other for a while and then, king of Harad attacked. The duke wasn't ready but he managed to escape with a littel scratch on his neck. He misled the king and smashed his shield with a mighty strike. The king was surprised and Thangon hit his leg. The king screamed with anger and pain - his leg was totally smashed. He fell on the marble floor ready to die when suddenly five gurds enterd the room. The king saw the only hope left for him and shout: <BR><i>Help your king! kill this man!</i><BR> The gurds looked at him with amusement. <BR><i>We won't help a false king that grovel before the king of the west</i><BR><BR>The duke threw his red cloak over the king's face and hit his skull with the sledge hammer. a dreadful crack sound was heard as the king died. The duke put his leg on the body and blew in his horn. <BR>Far away, in the shadow of Barad Dur the voice of the horn was heard. And the Nazgul Lord knew that there is a true leader in Harad, an important Ally to the shadow of Mordor.<BR>
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Postby Gilaglar » Tue Feb 13, 2001 3:15 pm

Gilaglar pressed on. He realised had made a bad choice in his route, but the urgency of his errand had clouded his judgement. He should have ridden through the Shire (as his King's Warrant would allow him to do in times of need), and left word with Elrohir and Elladan at Rivendell. Círdan would be sure to send a party there, to warn of what Gilaglar had seen, and it would have been a convenient place to rest his horse.<BR><BR>It was too late now, as he was well on his way down the more southerly, more direct road. He had ridden south of the Shire, and would make Sarn Ford by dawn. A ride of 50 leages had taken him nearly a whole day, but his horse was not bred for speed over long distances. When he had set out, he had only been going as far as the Towers, not all the way to Minas Arnor!<BR><BR>But to Minas Arnor he had to go. Eldarion, the new King, was not yet strong enough to use the Palantír in the Tower of the Setting Sun for more than looking at far away objects. He was not strong enough to use the stone to communicate with another mind.<BR><BR>'<i>There would have been no need for this cursed journey if he was</i>' Gilaglar noted to himself.<BR><BR>The more pressing worry for the elf was that if the Witch King had somehow discovered the whereabouts of the Ithil stone, and the young King was to use the Arnor stone, his mind could be corrupted just as the last of the Stewards' had.<BR><BR>The Ithil stone had not been discovered when Minas Morgul had been searched, and no sign of it had been found around the ruin of the Dark Tower. Gilaglar had studied the Palantíri for years, had even seen one in Valinor before he came to Middle Earth, and he knew how hard they were to break. Barad-Dûr had collapsed, but the Ithil stone was not of Sauron's making, and should have survived...<BR><BR>He knew that the King was trying to improve his skills as a seer, and was devoting as much of his precious free time to the Palantír as possible. It was only a matter of time, before something happened to him...<BR><BR>Gilaglar had enough gold to get by with, and maybe even trade in his horse for a more powerful beast at Tharbad. The Greenway was busy with trade again, and Tharbad was a bustling market town. He ought to make it there the afternoon of the next day at this pace. He only hoped the events of his vision were a few days into the future still, and he had time to warn the King... <BR>
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Postby Tempest » Tue Feb 13, 2001 5:09 pm

The day dawned coldly and Tempest and Kylab rose silently to survey the land before them. Those of Rohan and Gondor had grown secure in their prosperity and peace, having few enemies left to fear. They would never dream of trouble arising so well within their borders that scouts were few and the chances that they would meet any resistance was very small. Still, the sight of orcs and a troll would immedietly set any people they encountered into a panic, so they would have to be careful. <BR><BR><i>"Up ahead. Do you see it?"</i> she whispered.<BR><BR><i>"A cottage? In this lonely place?"</i> Kylab growled.<BR><BR><i>"I told you, the men of Rohan have no fears."</i> <BR><BR>The beast's lips curled into a crooked smile. <i>"Shall we?"</i> <BR><BR><i>"I think we can manage a cottage on our own. The others are sleeping and truthfully, I don't have the patience to explain a plan to them. Let us go, although we must be sure not to burn the house, or it is likely to draw notice from unwanted guests."</i> she said as she unsheathed her sword and crept slowly toward the cottage.<BR><BR>
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