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 Sauron's_Nagging_Wife » Mon Jan 27, 2003 10:03 pm

<BR><BR>Troops had been arriving since the day before and were setting up camp both immediately inside and outside the Narrows of Isenmouth. Since the Carach Angren had been destroyed along with the tunnels and underground armories immediately after the War of the Ring, there was no permanent barrier through the narrow pass.<BR><BR>Otakar’s men had been busy in the dale of Udûn. A few tunnels had been cleared out and shored up by the enemy quite some time ago; however, whatever orcs or other creatures had been here were gone. “Probably scattered and ran when they saw us coming,” one of the scouts had reported to Otakar.<BR><BR>Strongly built, heavily bearded, just starting to go grey, Captain Otakar’s grim visage and laconic disposition had been earning him quite a fearsome reputation among the infantry for more than twenty years. The arrival of the main body of support troops drew little more than his steely gaze until their commander arrived and came to speak with him.<BR><BR>“What in blazes is going on?” Captain Anardil, his comrade of many years, asked him once they were alone. “Why has the Black Gate been left unattended? I do not begrudge the king secrecy, stealth, or swiftness, but I can fathom no reason for this.”<BR><BR>“Unattended,” Otakar repeated in a voice without inflection, his expression hardly changing. <BR><BR>“That wicked place should not be left deserted,” continued the younger man. “I left a platoon of men to hold the gate, for I cannot comprehend why you would leave it unmanned.”<BR><BR>As was his way, Otakar considered these words for a moment before replying. “I would have the same trouble comprehending it in your place. That post was left in the command of Camgalen. Do you know him?”<BR><BR>Frowning, Anardil thought. “Slim fellow? Lieutenant?”<BR><BR>“Recently promoted to captain.”<BR><BR>When his superior officer said no more, Anardil continued. ”Supply lines and communications are in place and there is now constant traffic through the old gates. Some of the troops that were with the king in Harad have come up as well.”<BR><BR>Otakar nodded slowly, his eyes focused keenly on the other man, like a hawk. “Send a squad of men back to investigate, see if they can discover what occurred.”<BR><BR>
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Postby hamlet » Wed Feb 05, 2003 1:11 pm

Fluttering in the breeze, Otakar’s standard was visible even though the riders bearing it were still hidden behind the rise in the road. It rankled Hamlet – even though he had been cut off, cast away like a soiled rag, when the gate battalion fell more than a century ago – to see a standard of the West flown so freely over the soil of Mordor: even now, these Gondorians refused to respect the power that had governed the eastern lands of Middle Earth for so long. They paraded in formation unopposed, nursing an overweening pride that had proven to be their downfall ages ago, and would prove so again.<BR><BR>“A messenger,” Osram said. Self-consciously, he brushed some of the dust from his breaches and tabard. “Otakar has seen us already.”<BR><BR>“Does this disturb you?” Hamlet asked straining against the bindings that held his wrists to the pommel of the saddle.<BR><BR>“Yes. I have no more idea what to say to the man now than I did two days ago.”<BR><BR>“It is not Captain Otakar that approaches, it is only a messenger.”<BR><BR>“That is the same thing!” Osram lowered his eyes to the dry, broken ground beneath his horse’s hooves: a thick clay with a red tint. “What am I to tell this messenger?”<BR><BR>“That you have important news for your commanding officer.”<BR><BR>“And just what am I to tell the Captain?”<BR><BR>“The truth.” The word hung in the air like the perpetual vapor that crept out of the cracks of Orodruin.<BR><BR>Osram had no doubt that “the truth” was whatever this strange man found convenient at the moment. That he lied did not disturb the weathered soldier. It was the sense he made, the way in which he almost spoke Osram’s mind at times. He bore such a resemblance to the ideal that Osram strived for that it unsettled him.<BR><BR>Four riders arrived in a clatter of hooves, reigning their mounts so sharply that one of them was nearly thrown from the saddle when the animal reared. The man holding the banner urged his horse two steps forward and raised his hand in salute and greeting. “I speak for Captain Otakar. He wishes to know your purpose here and the reason for leaving your post at the Gate without orders, Captain Camgalan.”<BR><BR>Osram returned the messenger’s hail. “Captain Camgalan is no longer with us. I am Captain Osram and lead in his absence. We have urgent business with Captain Otakar that can only be discussed with him.”<BR><BR>“Who is this man bound to his saddle?”<BR><BR>“That is our business with the Captain.” Osram was still not comfortable using his new rank to silence inferior officers. Used to more than a decade obeying orders without question and only giving orders to facilitate the orders of his superiors, commanding men was strange to him.<BR><BR>“What shall I tell Captain Otakar?”<BR><BR>“The truth. That the new commander of the Gate Company must discuss an important matter with him.”<BR><BR>A long moment of silence passed between them, interrupted only by the distant and faint rumble of Orodruin. “Very well. Come with us.”<BR>
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Postby shagrat23 » Tue Mar 18, 2003 3:10 pm

Shagrat waited until the rest of the rag-tag band of orcs were asleep. Then he waited an hour more to be sure. He silently stood up and gathered his pack. The sentry for their little camp was dozing. He'd obviously been drinking to stay warm in the mountains' freezing temperatures. Shagrat was tempted to slit the sentry's throat to make sure he wasn't spotted, but the sentry was snoring soundly, and the orc would be lucky to survive the repercussions of being asleep and drunk on sentry...<BR><BR>Slowly and silently, Shagrat picked his way down the mountainside. He was following a steep valley which ran between Mount Gundabad and the Misty Mountains proper. By dawn he was 14 miles away from his camp, and the sun was rising behind him.<BR><BR>"It is time" he said. But not in the black tongue, or even in the common speech. He spoke in Quenya, the tongue of the Noldor. The orc turned to face the rising sun as it crept up between two jagged mountain peaks. The sun did not burn his eyes for the first time in years, and he could feel the changes starting within his body.<BR><BR>A very keen observer could have noticed that the orc's eyes were no longer yellow and slited. They were a bright, piercing blue. But there was no other life in the valley this morning to notice.<BR><BR>"I have what I came for. Now I return." The rich sounds of the elven tounge felt strange coming from his cracked, croaking voice. He turned his back to the sun once more and returned to his march. <BR><BR>As he descended into Hithaeglir, he veered sharply to the South. He would stay North of the Ettenmoors then pick his way through the wastes around Fornost, then down the Greenway to Bree, then West. Always to the West. For two years, the one thing keeping him sane had been the thought of what lay in the West. The Land that he had seen as a child, illuminated then by the light of the two trees before they were gone....<BR><BR>Shagrat snapped out of his daydream and walked on, following his course. Anyone watching over a period of time would have noticed his bent frame unfolding until he walked standing straight just over six feet tall. His skin lost the scales and pustules gradually, and became a pale, silvery white. His hair grew back: long straight and golden. And his voice. As he walked he sang songs of Valinor, of Beleriand, of Rivendell and the Havens. His voice changed from a dried crusty orcish croak, until it was clear, loud and melodious.<BR><BR>By the time he reached the edge of the Shire, he looked every bit the Noldo that he was. His spirits were high as he skirted the edge of that pleasant land, and they soared even further as hs keep eyes picked out the Towers of Gilgalad reflecting the sunlight. <BR><BR>"Home" he mumbled. His home was in Mithlond, the Havens, 20 miles further West. But the Towers were his life. He was the Seer. Master of the recovered Palantír which King Ellesar had sent to his Northern Kingdom years ago. As he approached the Towers, he could see Feldor, the caretaker, walking out to meet him.<BR><BR>"Home" he repeated. Yes. He was home. Gilaglar was home...
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Postby Aurandir » Mon Apr 28, 2003 7:20 pm

Thebin leaned upon the saddle pommel, watching the men around him with an appraising air. He was checking for nervous soldiers, gauging the troops outward show to see if any lacked mettle. Happily, there didn’t seem to be anybody who was liable to falter before the battle. <BR><BR>It was not out of sense of mistrust that he studied them so: Many of the men about him had volunteered, joining with his fellows to defend his home and his countrymen. Thebin knew he was being slightly cynical, but it was true: Some men were not cast for battle. Whether it was from weakness of character, or disgust at the awful chaos of battle, or one of a hundred other reasons, at the crucial moment a man might collapse. Rather than have that happen, with Thebin possibly across the battlefield, he would keep a weak one by him, or possibly advise him to go back to the reserves. <BR><BR>It was all moot at this point anyway. Satisfied, he ran back over the events of last night. <BR><BR>… Thebin leaned over the rough table, studying the frayed chart that was tacked onto it. <BR><BR>‘So you’ll do that, until you feel that they’re either close to regaining momentum, or close to breaking. Either way, one of your men will send a flaming arrow into the sky, and that’ll signal the charge. One arrow will mean the right attacks first; Two will tell the left to charge first. Whichever way it goes, the other side will wait two or three minutes, then charge themselves. <BR><BR>What I want to do is freeze up this guiding mind, if only for a few minutes. It’s quite obvious that these dead are below the level of an idiot: They are likely capable of only the most rudimentary thoughts. Therefore, there must be some guiding mind. To paralyze that mind would signal victory: The enemy would be bereft of purpose, mill about like cattle, only dimly aware of their purpose. <BR><BR>The way to do it is to send one body of shock cavalry crashing down upon one wave. It’ll upset the balance that the battle has attained. That mind will take troops out of spots he can spare them to reinforce his flank. When the second flank is suddenly assaulted, with barely any breathing room at all for the enemy, he’ll either freeze up, or order troops away from other spots. He’ll be spread thinly at this point: Somewhere, he must break.’<BR><BR>Thebin sighed deeply as he looked at the map. His eyes looked troubled for a moment, then he grinned wryly. <BR><BR>‘At least, that is what I hope to do. What do you think of it?’<BR>
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Postby Finrod_the_Faithful » Tue Apr 29, 2003 3:12 pm

<BR><BR>Though it was mid-morning, the day was dark, overcast, devoid of shadow, which reduced depth perception. The light, cold breeze did not stir the clouds, but the Dead labored, decaying, up a long incline towards the combined forces of Annúminas.<BR><BR>The commanders gave the order to fire, and thousands of arrows whooshed overhead. With sickening thuds, they met the corrupted flesh of the Enemy. Some of the Dead collapsed and did not move, some were damaged and their motion impeded, some were hit with glancing blows that had little affect on them. Still, the ragged lines shuffled forwards. Flurries of arrows continued as the mounted troops and foot soldiers moved into position. Then the command was given to the archers to cease.<BR><BR>No time remained for hesitation and second-guessing. As always at such a quiet moment reflecting upon dire circumstances, Elladan’s thoughts turned to his brother, whom he knew was so far away. <i>Ilúvatar keep you.</i> he prayed, both for Elrohir and for all his companions. Then, he drew his sword and glanced first to his left then to his right before giving the order to advance.<BR><BR>As Thebin had planned, they held the high ground and would meet the main body of the Dead with the advantage. “We’ll need it,” Elladan muttered aloud as he lead the way on the offensive. The horses’ hooves sounded loudly on the frozen ground, and the horrible grunts of the Dead became clearer. The cavalry thundered forward, and some of the dead turned to meet them. Some, not all.<BR><BR>A powerful, familiar voice to Elladan’s left rose in a war cry; Curandir’s voice was soon joined by others. The Men who rode with them began to howl equally ferocious words in their languages, and Elladan smiled, even now, when he heard multiple voices shout, “For the Shire!” from somewhere back and to the right.<BR><BR>In a rush, they were upon the enemy. Teeth clenched, controlling his mount with his legs, the Elf-lord swung his sword with one hand and a flat club in the other. Caran’s ears were flat back against his head, but the warhorse responded to his master’s commands.<BR><BR>Time ceased as Elladan fought through, smashing the opponents in his path and trampling their remains under the hooves of his horse. No fear, no methodical reasoning, only fierce aggressive violence. The blows of his weapons took on a rhythm as he spurred Caran forward and swung one and then the other. The cavalry moved forward.<BR><BR>
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Postby Tempest » Wed Apr 30, 2003 12:48 pm

She left at dawn, the shining armor and flashing swords of her guards catching the light of the rising sun. As Tempest looked at the reflection of her face in a passing shield, she nodded in approval. Everything was in place now, and she was escorted by some of the best soldiers from the ranks. It was an entourage worthy of a Queen, fierce and strong, their eyes alert and determined.<BR><BR><i>”How my father would have laughed to see this day,”</i> she said aloud, to no one in particular, yet Kylab lumbered nearby and heard her.<BR><BR><i>”Your father?”</i> he asked in a low voice, though it was more of a statement than a question.<BR><BR>Tempest seemed startled at his words, as if she had not realized she was not alone and she turned reproachful eyes toward him. <i>”Yes, my father,”</i> she said defensively and the troll decided to change the subject.<BR><BR><i>”You do not wish me to go with you?”</i> he asked.<BR><BR>She seemed preoccupied still, as if unable to break out of some sort of inner fantasy. He repeated his questions several times before she focused on him again with an irritated look. <i>”What?”</i> she asked sharply.<BR><BR><i>”You do not wish me to go with you?”</i><BR><BR><i>”No, I thought I made that clear before. A troll makes them uneasy. Seeing you would be like a declaration of war,”</i> she said.<BR><BR><i>”What will I do here? Continue with the training of our forces?”</i> <BR><BR>A thought seemed to have dawned on her as he spoke, for her face changed and concern crept slowly across her features as she considered him. <i>”Continue with the training for now,”</i> she ordered, but then she leaned forward so only he could hear. <i>”But, when He returns, leave this place. Go back to Mirkwood, to our old haunts. When this is over, I will come and find you there.”</i> <BR><BR><i>”What do you mean?”</i><BR><BR>Her tone held an urgency that he did not understand. <i>”Do as I say and we will meet again. But your path is your own; do as you will. I fear we must part ways for now. I will go and speak with the kings of the West, and you will do what you were created to do. We are surrounded by fools, you and I. Fools in front and fools behind. It was always so. I go now to change that. When it is over, I will not forget you.”</i> <BR><BR>There was a certain amount of tenderness in her words, but underneath there was a current of darkness that caused even his stone heart to tremble. He was suddenly afraid of her, aware for the first time of the capacity for cruelty that lurked beneath her marble features. There was something wolf-like about her in that moment, like the eyes of a beast with its prey in sight, waiting tensely for the final leap that would rip flesh and bone. He had seen that look before pass over someone else's face. Who? Where had he seen that hunger, that bitterness before?<BR><BR>His breath caught in his throat. It could not be. And yet, his intuition told him it was so. He knew her father in that instant even as he watched her, tall and with the grace of a warrior as she rode with her back to the rising sun. <BR><BR>She glanced back only once, as if to say goodbye, and he knew then that she had no intention of returning.<BR>
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Postby hamlet » Wed Apr 30, 2003 2:59 pm

During his childhood, Osram had been brought by his father to the libraries in Minas Tirith and forced to memorize long passages of arcane histories and ballads. Even now, he found the few bits of lines that came unbidden to his memory inscrutable, vague, and impenetrable. Great blocks of the book of Westmarch sat heavily in the back of his mind like monoliths on the plains of Arnor.<BR><BR>Looking at Otakar now, Osram had the same, impatient and frustrated feeling that he had stumbling over the foreign sounding syllables years ago. With the equally frustrating Hamlet standing near, Osram had stood in front of Otakar for ten minutes as the commander of this region – for the length of an eternity it seemed – issued orders to a slew of underings.<BR><BR>At last, he spoke. “Lieutenant Osram?” The man’s words conveyed no sense of his mood or thoughts.<BR><BR>“Captain, Sir. Captain Camgalen is dead. I assumed command.”<BR><BR>Otakar glanced at Osram almost disinterestedly and raised an eyebrow: “Dead?”<BR><BR>“Yes, Captain. While interrogating this prisoner,” Osram gestured at Hamlet, “he became incensed and attacked him. During the struggle, the captain was fatally injured by his own weapon.” Osram felt a slight thrill of disgust at how easily the lie had passed his lips. Once it was out, he even found himself believing it just a little, and he welcomed the soothing sensation it brought. “I assumed command and buried the captain near the Gates.”<BR><BR>Otakar said nothing, but only stared at Osram, dissecting him, boring into him.<BR><BR>Knowing what was expected of him, Osram continued. “It became apparent that there were no forces at the gate other than our own and a few wandering goblins. We found a wandering robber tribe or mountain orcs, but that was it. Sir, whatever activity is happening in Mordor is not happening in the Udun.”<BR><BR>“And so – you simply left?” Like the old texts that had bludgeoned Osram in his youth, Otakar sat immovable, volunteering no information.<BR><BR>“Yes, Sir. The prisoner said that he has valuable information that he will only entrust to the commander of this region.”<BR><BR>For the first time, Otakar’s eyes betrayed a hint of interest: but only a hint. With casual interest, he ran his eyes over Hamlet’s form, taking in the dusty travel clothes and black cloak, the faint streak of grey at his temples, an old, jagged scar running across his left cheek.<BR><BR>“And what information do you have for me?”<BR><BR>Hamlet took a step forward and leaned against Otakar’s table, laying his bound hands on top of a stack of papers. “The Ring still exists, and has been found.”<BR><BR>If the man was surprised, he did not allow his face to betray him. Calmly, he replied, “And why would a slave of Sauron, the Enemy, tell this to a soldier of Gondor?”<BR><BR>“Because it is not the Ring Forger that has it.” Osram fidgeted slightly, jostling Hamlet. Neither of the other two men paid him any heed. “Something new – or rather, something old has taken possession of the Ring and is using it: gathering something to him.”<BR><BR>“Do not lie to me.” There was a sharp edge of anger to Otakar’s words. “The lore says the Ring takes possession of those who desire it.”<BR><BR>“The Ring has changed!” Hamlet leaned in until his face was only inches from Otakar’s. “Don’t you feel it? In this place? In this air? In this time? What was within the Ring is now without, and something has taken what is left.”<BR><BR>“How do you know this?”<BR><BR>“Why wouldn’t I? For thirty years, I served the one who forged the rings. For thirty years, I felt Its presence. When that presence returned after so many years, all of us felt it, even your own.”<BR><BR>Otakar sat still for a long moment, never shrinking from Hamlet, never looking away. Osram could see him turning this new bit of information over in his mind, examining it from every angle, inspecting it.<BR><BR>At last he said, “What is there to be done about it?”<BR><BR>“We need to find the Ring and whatever is holding it.”<BR><BR>“I will think about it.” Otakar pushed back from his table and signaled a guard outside the tent. “Until that time, you, Captain Osram and your prisoner will be held under watch.”<BR><BR>****************************************<BR><BR>“What game are you playing at?” Osram was nearly livid. The thin veneer of his self-control was in danger of being torn. He felt as if he were playing a game in which most of the rules were hidden from him. “What else have you been holding from me?”<BR><BR>Lost in contemplation, Hamlet did not answer. Two hundred years ago, things were clear. When he was given an order, he followed it without question. Gondor and the Eldar, in any of their myriad incarnations, were the enemy. Guarding the Gate to the West was his duty. Now, he found himself taking counsel with men he would not have hesitated to slay only a century ago.<BR><BR>“Hamlet!”<BR><BR>With an infuriating calm, Hamlet turned and face Osram. “Have all the wise gone from the West?”<BR><BR>“What?”<BR><BR>“Do the men of Gondor, heirs of Numenor, hold no more councils? Have not the old among you felt it?”<BR><BR>“We have seen armies gathering again in the Land of Shadows. Dark things are happening that demand our attention.”<BR><BR>“You see a tree, but are blind to the forest.” Hamlet leaned back against the pole that supported their tent. “Armies are moving again, true. But that is only a symptom. Dark things are moving again, dark forces older than you, or I, or any one here. Only this time, the rules to the old game have changed.” He felt at a thin, jagged scar that ran across his cheek. “Someone has rewritten the lines of the old stories and songs.”<BR><BR>“What do you mean?” Osram was becoming increasingly frustrated with being reminded that he did not know much of what was going on, despite his apparent part to play. “What has come back to Mordor?”<BR><BR>“I don’t know. I thought that it was the old lord: I was wrong.”<BR><BR>“So what are we to do?”<BR><BR>“Find it. Talk to it.”<BR><BR>“Stop it.”<BR><BR>After only a moment’s hesitation, Hamlet replied, “Yes, Osram. Stop it.”<BR>
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Postby Finrod_the_Faithful » Fri May 23, 2003 5:43 pm

<BR><BR>Now that Legrace had recovered somewhat, Elrohir looked to see how the others were reacting, what their senses told them they saw. Concern, curiosity, fear, and awe shone in their faces. No, they had no idea what they had witnessed, and Elrohir pitied them. No one, not even Eldarion, had ever seen an elf queen, why should this fiery lady not suffice? Poor men, not to have understood the depth and import of what had occurred!<BR><BR>Elrohir set down the goblet of brandy and raked his hand through his hair, then drew in a breath. Sitting beside the Lady Legrace, Elrohir looked seriously at her. “My lady, is that the Ruling Ring?”<BR><BR>For a moment, she regarded him in astonishment and her eyes were enormous. Then, she chuckled a little and shook her head. “It is not.” Her voice was quiet and slightly hoarse after coughing, but there was dead silence in the tent. “But not one of you may freely handle it without ill-effects.”<BR><BR>The lady’s gaze drifted away, and she volunteered no more than that. Though she had recovered, she was still glittering a little with the inner light that attracted and awed Elves and Men when it was not hidden. The gathered solders watched her, stared at her obviously not knowing what she was and trying to adapt the sight to what they could conceive. Elrohir looked around in frustration, but none of the men were able to help him. With a grumble, he thought of Elladan, for his twin was a master of lore and could have guided him here.<BR><BR>“The half-elf? Was his malady caused by this ring?” he asked, casting his eyes about again. Folcwine’s eyes were narrowed, whereas his tall son’s were wide. The old Count’s mouth hung ajar and his son looked dazzled yet held firmly to the arm of the Lady Alys, who stared at Legrace with warmth, admiration, and compassion, but without fear.<BR><BR>“Lady Alys,” he said, startling the woman, who blinked in surprise. “I fear that I must ask a great favor of you. Would you attend the Lady Legrace? Events have required her to travel without ladies in waiting.”<BR><BR>Alys pulled her arm free from Dacius and stepped forward to curtsey formally. “It would be an honor, Lord Elrohir.”<BR><BR>
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Postby Naiore » Wed May 28, 2003 12:22 am

The incessant tattoo of water dripping onto aged stone had become as soundless and integrated as the beating of her own pulse. It surrounded her and went unnoticed like much of the other attributes of her surrounds. The grate to her cell had been flung open long ago but noone had entered to extract her. Torchlight held aloft to examine this most unusual of cell denizens had faded in what was a now dimly recollected past for this resident and was replaced with a darkness that could press upon one's very skull.<BR><BR>She ignored that weight, let it pass through her and drag her body down until it rested upon the grimy floor, befouled with centuries of filth and the debris of depravity. But beneath these layers lay something else that the very stone of the floor and walls seemed to have drunk in, like a man lost in the desert gorges on water found in an oasis. Terror, stark and naked fear, unabroggated horror lay thickly around her. It was beneath her. It was sinking into her too, as though she were a sponge, and it was a torrent of exquisite sensation that had seared through her.<BR><BR>At first, Naiore had carefully held her back from what seemed to permeate even the air, conscious that to loose herself now in such joys would bring a heavy penalty. Weakened, she was not entirely sure if she could hold herself back. Yet as the hours and days had passed, her resolved had been eaten away, much like that stone was now hollowed out by the steady drip of water from the wall. Inexorably, as she waited, surrounded by such wealth that would have driven a lesser Ravener mad with ecstacy within a day, Naiore had felt its siren call lure her into it's embrace. Fear had always fascinated her, much more than any other sensation. It was fear that had set her foot upon her path and led from from Belfalas to all that had lain awaiting down the long years since.<BR><BR>It was her strength, and it was her weakness. By the time word had been received of the granting of an audience, Naiore was already dangerously placed within it's tightening grip. The cell had been opened as per Tempest's wishes, and Naiore had only faintly recognised even this. Orcs had peered uncertainly from the now open door, their courage having fled once word of her identity had been released. They had debated amongst themselves as to who would enter and prise the First Ravener forth, but one look at her eerie smile of serenity in that place of despair had led each "volunteer" to consider his chances of survival with his fellow "comrades" far brighter than with her.<BR><BR>In the end, Tempest had long left and was beyond caring for that audience. The orcs had other things to occupy them too, and if their prisioner starved herself to death and spared them the risk of chancing their own necks to see to it, then so much the better. But Naiore was not starving. Indeed she was feasting. She was engorged with the fear that had been imbued in that prison by all who had come before her to occupy it. Sauron had known to limit her time in the prisons to short visits, enough for her to work on prisoners but not enough to loose the empath in the other joys that he knew waited for one such as she there. Her fascination with fear was well known to him.<BR><BR>Faintly, in a voice that barely registered on the empty air around her, Naiore whispered her question.<BR><BR><i>"From where does fear spawn? Is it here?"</i><BR><BR>It did not matter that noone answered her. Her senses were swallowed in the tortured memories of the stone and mortar that held them in place. Far she roamed, from floe to floe of fear, all the while seeking more, seeking answer. Farther and farther from the dungeons of what remained of Barad-dur, closer and closer to far more perilious places. In the Circle of Doom, her presence was noted as she ranged, and rumour echoed through Valinor.<BR><BR><i>"She is close."<BR><BR>"She may not enter here. She is forbidden!"<BR><BR>"All must come to the Halls of the Dead in time. Perhaps now is her time."<BR><BR>"Vaire, is this so?"</i><BR><BR>Vaire's answer was lost to Naiore, who only dimly heard even that exchange. All was lost, except what roared through her senses, and she was tired, so tired. When would her answer come? If not now, then would she ever find what she had endured so much to learn?<BR><BR>There in the darkness, forgotten by most within Barad-dur, her form was still bar for the slow rising and falling of her breast beneath the finely wrought black mail and leathers she had arrived in. Her hair was splayed out around her, delicate gold darkened by the fetid water that dripped, always dripped, from the wall, like the beating of her heart.
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Postby Sauron's_Nagging_Wife » Sun Jun 01, 2003 7:27 pm

<BR>The grey early morning light was just filling the sky when Hamlet and Osram were brought before Captain Otakar. Taciturn as ever, he fixed one with his calm gaze and then the other.<BR><BR>“The decision is not mine to make,” he said. “Therefore, you must be sent to the king.”<BR><BR>Hamlet frowned and Osram blinked. “The king?”<BR><BR>“Your escort is being prepared. You will leave within the hour.”<BR><BR>Without any other remark, the commander looked from one to the other, waiting to hear what they had to say. Osram swallowed visibly. Hamlet remained impassive and nodded in agreement. “We shall go to the king, then.” <BR><BR>“Very well. Dismissed.”<BR><BR>Both of them remained silent as they were lead outside. Osram was bursting with nervous questions, but Hamlet shot him a quelling look to keep him from speaking. The truth was, they had no moment alone while they prepared their gear to travel, and before the sun was fully visible, they had set out.<BR><BR>The ride was easy, for the roads were good, and they reached the outskirts of the camp just after noontime. The detail of men that had escorted them found many friends and acquaintances among the massive army camped just within Mordor, and soon, they were set together, alone and unarmed, in a small tent to await their fate.<BR><BR>
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Postby Sauron's_Nagging_Wife » Wed Jun 11, 2003 10:32 am

<BR>With the ring held in one hand, Legrace’s attention turned to the lovely young woman to whom Elrohir spoke. No blushing maiden, the blonde lady was at an age where she was passing from youth into the prime of adulthood. Something familiar in her appearance, in the shape and color of her eyes, in her proud carriage tweaked Legrace’s memory. With a frown, she looked over at the gathered men, and among them were a few who were obviously close relatives of the woman. The furrow in her brow deepened as she gazed at the mortal men. Before she could cast more than an interested glance that way, though, Eldarion moved closer to her side. <BR> <BR>“My lady, will you not give that ring to me?” he asked with a certain gentle forcefulness. <BR> <BR>The words that he spoke surprised her, and her brows rose. Before she could reply, Elrohir broke in. “As she has said, she cannot, in good conscience, let you touch it.” <BR> <BR>The lamplight cast a shadow across the king’s face as he looked from Elrohir to Legrace and then back. “Can you tell me what ring it is?” he pressed. The tone of his voice made the question almost a command. <BR> <BR>The ring fell from her hand to the ground. “Take it.” <BR> <BR>In the ensuing silence, the gold glittered a little with the flickering light from the lanterns and reflected in the eyes of those who watched. Elrohir remained still and silent; with the others, he waited to see what would happen. Some paternal, protective part of him wanted to intervene, to put his boot over the ring, to speak. Nephew or not, however, Eldarion was king and such a moment required him to act decisively. <BR> <BR>Either Legrace had lost interest, or she was disgusted. With a rustle of her skirts, she rose and began to make her way towards the closed flaps of the tent. Eldarion had not bent and abased himself to retrieve the ring from the dirt, nor, yet, had he spoken. “My lady,” he called, and she halted, but he never completed his sentence. <BR> <BR>The handsome Captain Beneshoff, whom the other officers called Odhrán in familiar quarters, stepped forward. “Forgive me, sire.” He crouched to pick up the ring. After wiping it with his handkerchief, he bowed and presented it to Legrace. <BR> <BR>“Your ladyship,” he began. “This is yours now, methinks. Or at least your responsibility. Please accept it from my rough hand.” He proffered it on his open palm. <BR> <BR>A little smile turned up one corner of her mouth. Legrace took the ring from his hand. “Though you speak fairly, captain,” she began in an amused voice, “it is still evident that you are a scoundrel.” <BR> <BR>A few of the men laughed and others smiled. “I cannot deny it,” he admitted with a broad grin. <BR> <BR>The lady sighed, for her mood had not changed. “You must pardon me, for now.” Again, she turned to go. “I am ready to depart at any time,” she told Elrohir more softly. <BR> <BR>The Elf-lord bowed. “Thank you.” <BR> <BR>With her departure, the men breathed more easily and talked among themselves, but Alys went to Elrohir. “Shall I go after her, my lord?” she asked <BR> <BR>“It would be better,” he remarked. <BR> <BR>“Then, by your leaves, my lords.” Alys curtsied to Eldarion and Folcwine before following Legrace. <BR> <BR>
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Postby Aurandir » Sun Jun 15, 2003 8:57 am

A woman of extraordinary pulchritude, yet quite moody and changeable. She was awing – around her flowed a sense of both world-weariness and bounding vivaciousness. And for a moment there the lady had uncloaked something – a powerful wellspring of life, a near blinding flame of passion. Nienna’s Tears! Never had he seen anything like it, and in this age he would not likely witness such a vision again. Such purity in that springing flame! Odhrán sighed: Such an experience was poorly described by words. He shot a thoughtful glance at Elrohir, wondering what that man thought. Odhrán had seen ripples upon the surface, but the one who would know the impetus for those ripples would be the Peredhel. He shook his head as if to clear his mind of what had just happened: Now was not the time to ask the elf what had occurred or to ponder the strange woman, though he might dearly wish it. <BR><BR>He walked back to the table around which they had all been gathered, glaring at the rest of the men who still stood there like a bunch of mooncalves. <BR><BR>‘I assure you men, there will be no more acts for today: the circus has left. It would be meet if we return to our original business. <BR><BR>‘My king, you have outlined what has happened to date, but not what you wish to be done. May I do so, notwithstanding my dear Count’s objections?’ A small smile touched his face, but only for a moment. ‘All appropriate measures should be taken immediately. Liege lords should gather all the lances they command, and we should levy the towns and villages. With haste should we open the armories, awaken the smithies. Riders should immediately be sent to ask the Dwarves of the Glittering Caves for armaments of war as well. <BR><BR>‘As for this king and queen -.’ Odhrán waved his hand dismissively, conveying sentences in a single action. ‘No good has ever come out of Mordor. None ever shall. The poison tree shall ever bear a poisoned fruit and no power upon this curving world may make that different. Stay your words for a moment, my lord. It would be best to extend an open hand you would say. With all my heart, it would not and never shall be. What innocent and just pair could possibly decide to extend hands of friendship in such a perilous time? The Nazgul return, the Dead walk, and the Barad Dur has risen? And suddenly upon our step come emissaries of peace, handing over a lunatic bearing a Ring of Power. A sure sign of innocence. It is folly to trust these men. Ever has the heart of darkness spoken with a fair guise and pleading words, playing upon our sympathies, our justice: Shall we be fooled again?<BR><BR>‘Answer them boldly, my lord. Ten thousand swords in the land of Mordor shall be our gift, and our reply to their falseness shall reverberate so loudly that the Black Tower falls. They play for time, so that their stroke may be more perfect. Do not parry it, but thrust!’<BR><BR> His dark eyes, smoldering with passion, bored into Eldarion’s, and in him one could see the manner of the old men of Numenor: Fiery and determined, sure and proud. Odhrán’s voice changed, asking softly:<BR><BR>‘Shall we lose the mastery by inaction? I beg you sire, let it not be so.’ <BR>
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Postby Finrod_the_Faithful » Sun Jul 13, 2003 7:37 am

<BR><BR>Long before the light began to fade, Elladan guided Caran to the top of a hill and watched the increasingly bold sweeps of the allies through the failing lines of the Dead. The horse snorted and exhaled two plumes of steam from his nostrils. His master reached down to slap his sweaty neck. “Soon, boy.”<BR><BR>The sound of hoofbeats signaled the approach of another rider, and the elf lord needed not to look up to recognize Thebin. With a nod, the man took a place beside him, and the two old warriors watched in silence. <BR><BR>“The day is ours,” said Thebin finally. “It is only a matter of time, now, but the living need a time for rest. Our camp has been removed to a distance that will give us good rest before they reach us.”<BR><BR>“A heavy price this has already cost us,” Elladan remarked as both men turned their horses away from the battle and started back towards their rear guard. “What of Farly?”<BR><BR>“Ah, the poor lad.” They rode on together in the lengthening shadows, and Thebin’s voice held compassion. “He was not injured, but they brought him back drooping in exhaustion. He may need healing tomorrow.”<BR><BR>”What he needs is beyond my ability. At least he’ll spend one night in peaceful oblivion.” Even as he said the words, Elladan wondered when was the last time he had known the peace of deep sleep.<BR><BR>“Tomorrow, we shall have to break into small squads and hunt down pockets of the Dead.” Businesslike again, Thebin seemed far more comfortable. “We’ll see what the scouts can tell us, and plot the next move at dawn.”<BR><BR>“What think you of Inwir’s group? Have they any chance of success?<BR><BR>”My mind turns in that direction as well now that our immediate danger is averted.” Wiping his brow with his sleeve, the grizzled general shrugged. “I think some will survive,” he admitted.<BR><BR>Now, Elladan allowed himself to think of them: Inwir, the legendary Noldo who had returned from the West millennia ago; Radagast, the ancient, wry wizard; Nerdanel, whose rich beauty and wisdom was enhanced by the grace of living so long in the Blessed Lands; Orodreth, his fearless cousin, sometimes called the Fatherless; Naveen, the mysterious and enticing thief from the South.<BR><BR>There, he stopped. Although his life on Middle-earth had been far shorter than most elves, he had gained some ability to evaluate people, and the woman had intrigued him. <i>A diamond in the rough</i> came to his mind. Despite the worn, dusty travel gear and the reflexes of a thief, there was a sterling quality in the woman as well as some sheen of the grace that Nerdanel carried. Odd that a mortal would seem that way, but when Elrohir met her, he could certainly evaluate Naveen.<BR><BR>The thought of his twin set off a pang of loneliness in the Elf lord’s heart. Sometimes, he felt incomplete when first parted from Elrohir, but long weeks had passed since they had last met. Much could happen in these dangerous days, and the possibility remained that neither Elrohir nor Naveen would again meet him again under the light of Arien’s star.<BR><BR>“I have need for a bit of wine and a song or tale,” he told Thebin with a sigh. “This enemy is foul to all of my senses.”<BR><BR>“Indeed, I never imagined I should live to experience such horror.” A ghostly grin played upon the General’s lips. “It seems as though the old stories are more truth than embellishment.”<BR><BR>Darkness filled the fine gray eyes of the half-elven. “Aye, they are.”<BR><BR>“And we are part of a new story, but how will this one end, I wonder?”<BR><BR>
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Postby Finrod_the_Faithful » Sun Jul 13, 2003 8:59 am

<BR><BR>The speech by Odhrán made Eldarion smile, for the doughty captain was ever a fierce and decisive leader. Thus had he been named commander of the entire force in Mordor. “The preparations of which you speak began weeks ago,” he informed the soldier. “When the Lady Legrace first brought us news of the forces allied against us. Nay, we will not yet strike, we will see what this self-proclaimed ‘queen’ will say, and when Elrohir catches her in his sight, then we shall know more. Let all men be held in readiness, though, for it may well be a ruse.” <BR><BR>“As my lord commands.”<BR><BR>“Let us break camp and make for the Tower,” continued Eldarion. “Increase the guard on the supply lines and apprise Cirion of our movements.”<BR><BR>Several voices answered, “Yes, my lord,” and men began to move purposefully as the meeting broke up. Then, the King turned to his uncle who looked as impassive as ever. The cool, calm Elrohir, ever ready for anything, alternately comforted and infuriated the young King.<BR><BR> “I must know what ring that is and whatever else the lady will tell us,” he stated. “I may be stating the obvious, but you need talk with her. Perhaps Lady Alys may be of some use in that regard.”<BR><BR>Elrohir nodded. “I doubt I will gain any useful intelligence, but I wager that mad half-elf can provide quite a story of where he got yon ring.”<BR><BR>“If we can get anything out of him,” muttered Eldarion.<BR><BR>“It will be easier than coaxing information from the lady.”<BR><BR>With a grimace, Eldarion left him and sought out Benoit. The wizened old spymaster had been observing everything with his keen eyes and in silence. Now, he inclined his head and raised his still bright eyes to the King. “Ben, we need information from that madman whom the enemy sent,” he stated firmly. “Question him and see what you can find out. Have you got enough men?”<BR><BR>“For questioning, I do, though I may need a dozen or more guards with that wild one,” admitted the old man with a grin, feeling a jolt of energy at the anticipation of the difficult task before him.<BR><BR>“Sire,” interrupted a young messenger, bowing and holding out a sealed letter. “From Captain Otakar.”<BR><BR>“Otakar?” Eldarion took the letter, shared a frown with Benoit, then broke the seal to read it. A slight gin crossed his fac at Otakar’s usual terse wording, but it quickly deepened into another frown. “Two prisoners,” he muttered, then handed the letter to the older man. “Have a seat, Ben.” Then, to the guards, he said, “Have the two prisoners that were sent by Captain Otakar brought here.”<BR><BR>
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Postby Aurandir » Mon Sep 01, 2003 8:42 pm

‘As my lord commands.’ <BR><BR>Odhrán wasn’t a man to take offense at petty incidents and therefore took Eldarion’s behavior with equanimity. Eldarion had made Odhrán look a proper fool by letting him ramble on just a minute ago, but the more unsettling thing was that he was determined to find out more about this ‘king’ and ‘queen’. How could he believe in tripe such as this? Their plea was soft and sickly-sweet, disguising a rough and angry scheme. Sauron had asked for a second chance, he thought sourly. Now look at what we have become: shades of our forefathers, ignorant of their ancient knowledge and reduced to near-parity with the rest of Man. <BR><BR>He sighed inwardly: Why was the King so cautious? Why this aching slowness, this rheumatism of the will? Illuvatar’s eyes, the King held keen wisdom in spades. What was his purpose in this molasses march? Tonight I’ll speak with him, he thought, and if not to expound my position, then to learn his. <BR><BR>As the meeting broke up, Odhrán noticed Eldarion moving over to his uncle. He wondered what the elve’s position was in all this. Was he a silent spectator, watching his nephew’s progress with care, offering a hint here, a tip there? Or did he always urge a course and ever hawk its virtues? Nay, that did not seem to be the character of the man: At least it was not what the outward shows implied. Odhrán shrugged and put the man out of his mind for now: He was a paradox, like all elven-kind, but did not need to be solved yet. <BR><BR>Once more in his private tent he unbuckled his sword and threw it on a chest. ‘Eamon!’ he shouted. In a moment his friend and advisor appeared, sheets of parchment in his hand. <BR>‘Good morning, my lord.’ Without preamble, the aged man began handing various papers to Odhrán, an explanation accompanying each one. <BR>‘The first paper is a report on couriers recently come into the camp. The most interesting portion deals with a detail of soldiers that has escorted two men. The detail comes from Otakar’s region, and the prisoners they bring are to see the king. Next, the supplies of the rearguard are somehow seeping away. Cappabar on the part of the Quartermaster’s Assistant is suspected, though he has offered up almost every oath known to Man to prove his innocence.” <BR>Odhrán swore. Quartermasters were a sharp lot on the whole, and when they started “cappabarring” – stealing supplies and selling them at a profit – you were hard pressed to find anything incriminating. He had already dismissed one man, and to do the same to another would be annoying. <BR>‘Ascertain his guilt – make sure we’re not dismissing the wrong man.’<BR>‘If he is guilty, then he will be court-martialed?’<BR>‘Of course. Lazy, venal men who cannot do anything but slyly steal others property deserve to be punished.’<BR>‘And the food?’<BR>‘Send to the nearest town to replenish our stores.’ Odhrán shook his head and poured himself a glass of water, muttering to himself, ‘Those fools who are always thinking only of their profit. Illuvatar rot their eyes out, the grasping wretches.’<BR><BR>After he had finished the rest of his summarization, Eamon handed a sealed letter to Odhrán. ‘This comes from Anardil, a captain under Otakar.’ <BR>Odhrán took the letter, surprised at the sender. He would peruse this alone. ‘My thanks Eamon. A good day to you.’<BR>‘And the same to you.’<BR><BR>Odhrán set the letter on his desk and sat down, simply looking at the letter. He leaned forward for a moment, murmuring to himself, then rested back once more, again quietly contemplating it. Patience eventually lost the battle to curiosity, and in the blink of an eye he had ripped off the seal and was studying the letter. As the seconds passed his face showed more amazement, and with each line of lettering the clockwork of his mind spun faster. <BR>
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Postby Tempest » Tue Sep 02, 2003 1:19 pm

Tempest had spent much of the night awake, her many different plans twisting around in her head, filling her mind with strange dreams when finally she found a moment to sleep. She saw terrible things in these visions, and on awaking, the voice of reason crept into her thoughts, warning of her of her present path. There was a brief moment, between darkness and dawn, when she wondered if she should not simply forsake her plan and withdraw to some wild place where she could live her life in peace.<BR><BR>But even as the thought passed through her mind, the voice returned, that hated and reverenced voice, and she knew that no matter where she went, she would find no peace. <i>"I must silence his voice forever,"</i> she told herself, <i>"And his voice can only be silenced with blood."</i><BR><BR>A glove now covered the hand where the ring had been taken, but Tempest could still feel the throb, the ache for that which was lost. Still, she was glad that Helazzar had taken it, for she loathed the thought of being a slave to anything or anyone. She remembered the Mouth of Sauron and smiled softly. He was probably still sitting in his ridiculous tower, a pawn of ever decreasing worth in this little game...<BR><BR>Dawn came and went, and the day's warmth cast away the chill of the night. It was not long before they were in sight of the first scouts from Gondor and her allies.<BR><BR><i>"My lady, what shall we tell them about you? What is it you want?"</i> one of her knights asked after riding up to her. Apparently a messenger had been dispatched from the scouting party when they saw the white flag of peace flying above them. <BR><BR><i>"Tell them: The Queen of Mordor has come. As for the terms, I will discuss them only with their King,"</i> she answered with an imperious gaze. <BR><BR><i>"Your name, my lady, what shall I tell them of your name?"</i> he asked.<BR><BR><i>"My name? That is a harder question. I suppose I could call myself 'Honoria' as they would have known me, but that seems patronizing. I would give them my real name, if I could remember it. But since I cannot, I suppose they shall have to know me as 'Tempest,' though it does not seem a very fitting name for a queen, nor a name that is bound to produce confidence of my good intentions. 'Queen Tempest' sounds very threatening indeed, though it seems a very good name for the royalty of Mordor. Afterall, a queen should be a reflection of her subjects,"</i> she said with a smile. <i>"Very well, they shall know me as 'Tempest,' and let them think what they will."</i>
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Postby Naveen » Thu Sep 04, 2003 7:48 am

<BR><BR>The Witch King lifted his eyes and stared at the dark silhouette framed in the archway. So this was the creature that defied his control; one of the walking dead whom he had called forth to guard his rebuilt fortress. He shifted his weight, drawing his lean body upright and squaring his shoulders. He was an ominous presence seated on the midnight throne and though he spoke but one word, his voice carried with it the weight of the power at his command <BR><BR><i>“Halt!”</i><BR><BR>The creature faltered, stumbling to a halt. He fought against the surge of power he could feel swirling in the air around him. His arms, holding his sword in a two fisted grip above his head, began to tremble. They felt as if the entire weight of the mountain bore down upon them. He could barely lift his head to look into the man seated before him…the Master.<BR><BR>A breeze lightly blew into the throne room from the hallway beyond bringing to the creature the clean fresh scent of the night air…and something else. The fragile fragrance of the woman he had carried in his arms. He closed the tattered remnants of his eyelids and reached down deep inside for the last shred of humanity left in his corrupted soul.<BR><BR>Naveen had made her way along the shadow-shrouded hallway until it ended at a large and ornate arch. The pair of heavy doors that it enclosed were pushed inward and the thief carefully crept nearer and like a shadow, slipped into the room.<BR><BR>It was darker inside the room than in the hallway; the only source of light seemed to emanate from the opposite from somewhere low on the opposite wall and was partly shielded by a large object. She couldn’t make out exactly what it was from this distance, for creatures figure standing near the center of the room obscured her sight. <BR><BR>It was stronger now, that delicious scent that reminded him of what he had been…and what he was now. The creature moaned, his whole body trembling as it fought against the Witch Kings command. He took a faltering forward…then another.<BR><BR>A look of annoyance crossed the Witch Kings stern features. What was this undead creature doing? Disobeying his command? He had resurrected hundreds of men from the dead and populated his fortress with and sent countless others like him across the plains to do battle with his enemies. They had all obeyed his command, why was this one different? The thought only lasted a moment; the Witch King had other, more urgent matters on his mind. He raised his hand from the arm of the throne and made a motion as if he were flicking away a pesky insect.<BR><BR>The thread of power holding the undead man together, binding him to a life that was not living, dissolved. The framework of corrupted flesh and brittle bones fell to the polished marble floor of the chamber, sounding like dry leaves as they fell. An indistinct sigh of relief issued forth from them and was carried away by the breeze. <BR><BR>The Witch King barely noticed the sound, his eyes were intent on slowly scanning the room. He had heard a sound, a different sound, and it had come from across the room. His gaze lit upon a shadow near the door. It had a different texture than the rest of the area. He nodded grimly to himself with satisfaction; the creature had brought him the intruder, only not in the expected way.<BR><BR><i>“Step forward,”</i> he commanded. <BR><BR>Pressed flat against the wall where she had tried to hide herself, Naveen could no more resist his command than she could have stopped the rain from falling from the sky. She felt her foot move forward a step. It was an eerie feeling, for when she tried to resist, she found she couldn’t. It was like she was a puppet, her motions controlled by an unseen force. Her heart beat faster and cold droplets of fear began to tickle down her spine as moved closer to the figure on the throne.<BR><BR>A woman? The wraith leaned forward. He wondered if this one would prove as interesting as the other one who had found her way to his presence?<BR><BR><BR><BR><BR>
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Postby hamlet » Wed Nov 26, 2003 9:20 am

Osram and Hamlet were led into the King's presence, and for a long while, Hamlet could do nothing but stare, not hearing the conversation going on around and about him. <i>This is no king!</i> his mind raged at him. <i>This is a boy, barely grown into a man. A boy playing at kings and castles.</i><BR><BR>The strength of the blood of Numenor was growing thin, diluted by the taint of elvendom. It hung about him, the faint beauty and palidness of Elessar's consort. <i>It was strong, strong and regal, his blood. My blood!</i><BR><BR>Not all the men out of the West settled in Gondor following the destruction wrought by Manwe. Not all of Westernesse poluted themselves with those that swarmed over this land of exile. In the East, the old blood, his old blood, was still strong and true. Some of the old families survived still after so many generations. <i>Elves may live forever, </i>he thought<i> but their life never grows or increases. As the centuries pass, they grow thin and ephemeral, like that wretched wine they sip, faint and watered.</i><BR><BR>Hamlet was not old by the standard of his kin, but he was old enough to be this "king's" grandfather three times over. Osram himself could have sired this whelp! And now, here he was, a man that had fought at the Black Gate, stood in the very presence of the Dark Lord and his Lady, paraded as a prisoner before this child. Hamlet could see little of the Returned King in this, his progeny. <i>The West has fallen, as surely as if it were by the swords of Mordor. The blood that fractured in Isildur has now finaly shattered.</i><BR><BR>It was only gradually that Hamlet became aware that everyone was looking at him, expecting something of him. It was clear what they wanted of him.<BR><BR>"There are things stirring in Mordor, Your Majesty," he could barely force the words of the formal adress from his throat, "but you do not know them, nor can you comprehend them, yet."<BR><BR>"Yes, we know of the King and Queen that have set themselves in power in this land. They are of little concern. A rabble, no more," the King said dismissively.<BR><BR>"The King and Queen do not matter!" King and Queen? There was no royalty in Mordor but that of Sauron himself. "They, and whatever pit they have crawled out from are of no consequence. Not now." For a moment, he paused, considering what to reveal, what, in fact, he truly had to reveal at all. "There are older things growing again in Mordor, things older, perhaps, than the Dark Lord himself. There are things in motion, now, that will make whatever victory you garner here meaningless."<BR><BR>"Be plain, man --"<BR><BR>"The Ring is not destroyed."<BR><BR>For a great while, the words hung between everyone there. Osram's tensness and fear was palpable. The King sat in quiet disbelief, not sure how to react to the sense that the stories his nanny had told him as an infant were coming alive. With the news out of the North of an army of the dead, the return of the Witch King, with the renewed stirrings of Mordor, everything he knew indicated that the Ring still existed. He knew that the One still wielded some power in this world, but there had always been hope, some part of the young king that wished dearly that things were as simple as the stories.<BR><BR>"You lie, Man of Mordor. The Ringbearer threw the One Ring into Orodruin and there, in the flames that forged it, the ring of Sauron was unforged."<BR><BR>"No, it was diminished, but not destoyed. Altered, but not banished. Do you think that that Ring is the only thing crafted by the Lord of the Rings? Do you think it was the only thing touched by his hand?" Ignoring the grasping hands of the guards, Hamlet took a few steps forward so that he could look closely into the King's eyes. "Like his own master before him, the Dark Lord poured a great deal of his strength into creations of his own, creations that still exist, live and breath. Only now, there is not the Master to control them."<BR><BR>Though he did not know how far he could trust the servants of the enemy, Hamlet's words carried some small element of truth. "You still have not told me why you convinced Lieutenant Osram to abandon his post."<BR><BR>Osram flinched visibly at the reminder of his part in the untimely death of Camgalen. The King had not been pleased at all and would probably sned Osram away from his service and away from the city. All that would save him was this man standing next to him who, for some reason beyond comprehension, Osram trusted. Whatever this man's aliegances, there was honor in them albeit of a twisted sort.<BR><BR>"I needed him to get here." The truth was jarring and gutting and it nearly knocked Osram from his feet. "Even I cannot stand against thousands of your soldiers, such as they are, or hope to evade them forever. Osram captured me approaching the Black Gates and I convinced him that he was wasting his time there, guarding nothing."<BR><BR>"And what is it you wish? What is it that brought you here despite the knowledge that you would be captured by enemy forces?"<BR><BR>"I was called to ensure that the Dark Lord's power rests with him and no other. I am sent to destroy the Ring." When he said it, Hamlet was not sure that it was true.<BR><BR>"Sent by what?"<BR><BR>"I don't know."<BR><BR>What had been truth and what had been lies? Neither of the two facing each other was entirely certain. One, a servant of the old evil, the old enemy lent authority by his age and experience. The other, a young man resting uncomfortably on his forefathers' throne, desirous of the peacefull and prosperous reign his should have been. It wasn't fair. Elessar had beaten the Black Hosts at the Gate and Frodo of the Shire had cast the Ring to its doom. It had been done!<BR><BR>But now, they were here, two men of the same kin, the same kith and blood, kings both in their own right, fated to continue the battle their fathers had fought, and their fathers before that. "It does not stop --" Eldarion mumbled to himself. "There is a book in the library at the White Tower. It has a blue binding and it was written I don't know how many ages ago. It says that the battle between good and evil has been fought since the beginning, and that it will be fought until the end, that when all of the evil things -- orcs, trolls, dragons, balrogs -- when all of them are destroyed, then men will find evil amongst themselves to fight. The battle is never finished until it is all finished. I never liked that book very much."<BR><BR>Sighing, the king leaned back in his chair. "There is intelligence out of the north of battle with an army of death. We have had sightings of the Witch King of Angmar and we have seen Rings."<BR><BR>Hamlet was not surprised. If the One still lived, then the Nine at least still had some power, and perhaps what remained of the Seven as well.<BR><BR>"Everything we know tells us that the Ring of the Enemy still roams the land. But I had hoped and prayed that it was not so. And now, you -- one who has, by his own account, served in the Black Hosts at the Black Gate during the War of the Ring -- tell me that the One is in the hands of a new Dark Lord, one that is worse than Sauron himself. I would almost rather it in my own hands than on the finger of its new owner. At least I could put a good end to it."<BR><BR>Leaning forward again, the King took up a quill and parchment and began scribbling furiously, then affixed his seal to the bottom of the paper. "You, Hamlet, as a servant of the evil powers resident in Mordor, are uniquely qualified to seek this prize. I will send with you a detachment of guards, ten or so, to accompany you wherever it is you go. Your weapons and horse will be returned you, but you will remain under guard until such time as I deam fit. You are to seek the Ring and, if possible, acquire it and destroy it. Osram. You, by your own testimony, are guilty of murder and mutiny. However, due to the extenuating circumstances, you will not be executed. You will retain your new rank of captain and will take command of the expedition."<BR><BR>"Yes, My Lord." Osram bowed low, not sure whether to be relieved or terrified.<BR><BR>"Hamlet, do you know where the Ring is now?"<BR><BR>"No, your highness, I do not know for sure, but I do know that I must be at the Morgul Vale soon. From there, I will know where to go."<BR><BR>"Very well. Go now, both of you."
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Postby Belegûr » Fri Dec 05, 2003 10:41 am

The ships looked treacherously small viewed through the Stone, but there could be no doubt of what he was seeing. A considerable Gondorian taskforce was already about to enter the Bay of Umbar. Akhôrahil cursed. How convenient for his enemies that a large part of Gondor’s Belfalas Fleet had been on a southerly patrol, and that someone apparently had slipped through to warn them. Had they come just a day later, he would have had time to close the mouth of the Bay completely. Yet there they were, and he could do nothing about it. This would place his fleet in a precarious position, he thought. The enemy outnumbered his forces, and had the additional advantage of attacking from two sides. His fleet, caught in the middle, would stand no chance unless something was done quickly. And he only had a few hours. On land, he ruled supreme; there had to be some way to exploit this. <BR><BR>Pushing the thoughts of the coming battle further back in his mind, Akhôrahil shifted his gaze northwards until the Stone showed the bleak mountains and deserts of Mordor. More than he liked could still be decided there, in that barren wasteland which somehow always was at the centre of the great events in Endor. These thoughts briefly touched his mind as he found the one he was searching for. “I will return soon for an answer”, he thought, and saw the other person shift slightly in response. Very well; the message had been delivered.<BR>Akhôrahil left the Stone and summoned his captains.<BR><BR>Fifteen minutes later, the council was over.<BR>“You all know what to do”, Akhôrahil told them. “Let us now move swiftly, and we may not have to strike again”<BR><BR>Standing outside his quarters, he watched the walls of Umbar, the city of his birth. He had spent much time doing this the last day. The garrison was small, still weakened by the recent campaign in Harad. Many had returned to Minas Anor with the King to meet the perceived threat from Mordor. Akhôrahil had no doubt that the city would fall; his forces were far too strong to be repelled by the defenders. And Gondor would have neither time nor troops to reinforce it. His present problem was the sea. Soon there would be battle in the Bay. The key to that battle lay bottled up inside the harbour of the city; if Umbar’s own fleet could be disabled quickly, things would look different.<BR><BR>The City of Umbar was encircled by a might outer wall. From this wall, close to the sea, another arched out to encompass the inner harbour. The wall continued from the mainland to a small island and back to join the city wall again; the two straights could each be barred with a great steel portcullis. Additionally, the island was fortified to guard the harbour entrance. Any approach from the sea would be hazardous, subject to fire from the walls, the island and the city itself. A land-based assault, on the other hand would be subject to all the perils the storming of a fortified town implied.<BR><BR>However, Akhôrahil believed, he knew how to overcome the obstacles. His captains had not been wasting time. Already the camps were alive with men hurrying to carry out their orders. The cavalry of the Chey stood somewhat apart, accompanied by a small company of Blood Crows, having already received their own instructions.<BR>Looking towards the walls, he could see that the sudden increase in activity had not gone unnoticed. People were running to and fro, probably preparing their own measures. Smiling slightly, he mounted and rode out to the same spot he had occupied before, flanked by a small honour guard.<BR><BR>“People of Umbar”, he shouted, voice once more amplified to reach the watchers. “It seems your choice has already been made for you. However, as a proof of my good will, I give you one last chance. You will open your gates, and the Gondorian garrison will depart. This will happen within half an hour. Otherwise, I see no other choice than to storm the city. Choose, but choose swiftly”.<BR><BR>Akhôrahil turned back to oversee his preparations.<BR>
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Postby Sauron's_Nagging_Wife » Fri May 28, 2004 8:42 pm

Within the dimness of the tent, the golden ring was set upon a small table. The time slipped away, and Legrace sat nearby. Amidst her thoughts, she was vaguely aware of the young lady speaking to her. The familiar language did not register; instead, the lady felt the mortal woman’s pain an anguish, read her attitude in her posture and expression, learned much of her from her golden coloring, her light fragrance, and her expressive eyes.

Silence stretched between them and Legrace’s eyes focused on the other woman. “Why did your father require you to take that man as your husband?”

The abrupt, straightforward non sequitur of a question startled Alys, who paled, then she flushed. “Lady, I do not know how to answer.”

The fine black eyes of the lady regarded her curiously but not without warmth. “Lass, you are alone in this world, as we all are.”

No retort rose upon Alys’s lips. Instead, aching tears fitted in the corners of her eyes as she watched the lady, whose every move bespoke the depths of misery and loneliness.

Then, something caught Legrace’s attention, and she looked away, her eyes growing vague and unfocused. “It is time, and we are about to move. Some safety lies behind, back in the City of the Kings.”

”I shall ride ahead with my kin,” Alys bristled, unprepared for what she thought was the lady’s attempt to send her back with the children, elderly, and infirm.

The Lady Legrace had risen and was drawing up the hood of her cloak when half a smile lit her face. “Ride with me, then, if you may,” she requested in a low voice before pulling the hood more completely over her face and slipping from the tent with hardly a sound.

Perhaps we may find comfort from the other, Alys felt the unspoken and sighed deeply before following.
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Postby Finrod_the_Faithful » Mon May 31, 2004 6:53 pm

As the morning slowly grew brighter, Elladan and two others, Pontain and Yartac out of Annuminas, moved swiftly across the plain, dispatching resistant pockets of the undead. Many were mere bones held together by corrupted sinew, yet some still posed a threat in speed and agility. Behind them were groups designated cleanup – they piled the rotten corpses and remains and set fire to them. Already, dozens of foul, smoking pyres smoldered behind them; many more lit the land all around with the acrid smell flooding the moorland.

By now, the work had become monotonous for the elves and men who rode ahead among the still dangerous remnants of the enemy. Still, Elladan kept alert to danger, for he had lived too long to let down his guard so easily. Concentrating completely, he rode with his men and worked methodically to destroy the undead warriors and their remains.

“Lord Elladan!” a rider shouted.

The interruption did nothing to distract him or the others. Carefully, they aimed their blows, driving the enemy before them and ultimately crushing them under the hooves of their chargers.

Only when the chore was done did the elf-lord turn to see who it was who had called him. One of Thebin’s pages upon a shaggy horse from the northern wastes waited for him.

“Forgive me, my lord,” he said. “The general has sent me to beg your attendance, for the Halfling is in need of your aid as a healer.”

“The Halfling?” questioned Elladan curtly as his horse danced sideways. “Whom do you mean?”

“Faramir Took, called Farly,” said the messenger. “General Thebin requests your aid, for none has your healing ability.”

“Farly,” he repeated slowly, his brows drawing together. “For a moment, he said nothing but then nodded. “I shall follow you.” Turning to his men, he said, “Can you continue without me?”

“I don’t think it will be any problem,” remarked Pontain with a grin of black humor.

“See to the living,“ added Yartac
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Postby Finrod_the_Faithful » Mon May 31, 2004 6:53 pm

:D
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Postby Naveen » Wed Jun 02, 2004 10:52 pm

A cry of alarm came from the shadowy recesses of the narrow defile and Inwir leapt to his feet, sword at hand. Nerdanel! Where was she? The feeble light of the fire where he’d sat with Radagast and Orodreth discussing strategy and tactics didn’t reach where she’d been a short time before, only wan moonlight lit those shadows. He scanned the area as he raced toward the boulder.

Nerdanel stepped from behind the boulder, the wounded guard leaning heavily against her. “We were attacked,” she hurriedly told Inwir as she met him. “Three of the undead.”

Radagast went to the man’s other side and together, he and Nerdanel, guided the man towards the fire. Inwir nodded grimly, slightly relaxing his clenched jaw when he saw that Nerdanel wasn’t injured. “We’ll search the area.” Motioning to Orodreth, the pair slipped as silently as wraiths into the deeper shadows.

Gently, Nerdanel and Radagast laid the wounded guard on the ground next to the fire and examined his shoulder. The wound was not deep; the links of chain he wore had kept the undead soldier’s blade from piercing too deeply, but the force of that blow had been great, his collarbone was shattered. With light, yet firm fingers, Nerdanel pulled away the metal links that had become embedded in flesh. The guard winced, his face going ashen as he gritted his teeth.

Radagast withdrew a packet from the pouch at his waist. “Here,” he told the guard after unwrapping it. “Place this leaf beneath your tongue. It will ease the pain.”

“Lay still now, let me tend to your wound.” Nerdanel spoke quietly as she pulled back the metal vest of links and untied the laces of the shirt underneath. “You fought bravely, but I know not your name.” She tried to keep her tone light and concern out of her voice as she worked, but the glance she threw the wizard’s way told Radagast differently. As she pulled back the shirt, a sliver of bone shone whitely against the blood-smeared flesh.

“Yarrow, M’Lady.” His breathing had eased a little as the effect of the leaf took hold and he only gasped slightly as the elven lady lightly probed his shoulder.

“Ah, a favorite plant of mine! I look for it every spring,” Radagast said trying to draw the man’s attention away from the movements of Nerdanel’s hands and went on for a moment about the properties of the strong, pungent plant. His tone turned serious as Nerdanel passed him a stick wrapped with a strip of cloth. “The bone is shattered. The Lady must set it and I have nothing stronger for the pain. Bite down on this.” Yarrow nodded, closing his eyes as Radagast placed the stick between his teeth.

Nerdanel also closed her eyes as she gently felt along the line of bone piercing the skin and whispered a short prayer of guidance to Estë. All her energy and concentration was focused on what her fingers felt and tiny beads of sweat glistened above her lips when she found and held both ends of the shattered bone between the fingers of each hand. Yarrow groaned weakly, then slipped into a stupor as Nerdanel manipulated the two pieces together. Seizing the opportunity, Nerdanel quickly examined the surrounding tissue for any chips of bone that might have broken loose. She breathed a sigh of relieve after finding only one small shard, then cleansed the wound thoroughly with water from a flask Radagast handed her.

When Inwir and Orodreth returned, Nerdanel was just finishing wrapping a strip of cloth around the sleeping guards shoulder to bind his arm close to his chest. She looked up as they approached and answered the unspoken question on Inwir’s face. “He lives…and his arm will mend,” she said raising to her feet and wiping her hands against the dark fabric of her skirt.

“There were no signs of more undead close by. They may have been stragglers…” Inwir glanced first at Radagast, than at Nerdanel. “We are safe…for now.”

“Stranglers! Bah!” Radagast fumed under his breath. “More than likely part of a patrol.” Using his staff, he pulled himself heavily up from his seat on the ground next to Yarrow. “Where is that thief?” Looking out into the darkness, he muttered worriedly, “In a few short hours it will be dawn.”

Looking down at the morgul ring on her left hand, Nerdanel spoke slowly, her voice sounding far away even though she stood but a few feet from everyone. “Something’s happening.”

“What is it?” Concerned, Inwir stepped next to Nerdanel, taking her left hand and covered it with his own, hiding the cursed ring from sight. It was a long moment before Nerdanel lifted her face and when she did, Inwir saw that there was a vague, shadow in her normally clear gray eyes. “I…don’t know…”

“Is it the Witch King? Does he know we’re near?” Radagast demanded, taking the elven woman by the shoulders and turning her to face him. He took her hand from Inwir and looked at her face. “No…” She shook her head. “I don’t think so…it’s an obscure, dark presence…” Suddenly Nerdanel’s shoulders slumped and a great weariness washed over her. The wizard reached out his arms and encircled her in them, wrapping her in an aura of peace as she whispered hoarsely. “It’s gone now…only emptiness remains.”

Looking over her head at Inwir Radagast said, “We leave for the fortress now. Orodreth will stay here with Nerdanel and Yarrow.”

Orodreth opened his mouth to protest then promptly shut it again. From the look on the old wizard’s face, he knew it was useless to argue.

It took only a short time to gather what they thought necessary and then Inwir took a few minutes to take his leave of Nerdanel and his kinsman, leaving them instructions about what to do if they did not return.

Radagast slowly walked out to the edge of the narrow cleft in the mountain they had taken refuge in and stood staring up at the dark, forbidding cliff that rose above. Was that his doom he had felt when he looked in Nerdanel’s eyes or some trick manifested by the ring she wore? For a brief instant he thought he had discerned an immense darkness that chilled his heart. No, it was a trick, he told himself, shaking off the dark mood that threatened to cloud his mind. It was then he felt a tiny nibbling at the toe of his soft boot.

“Well now,” he said softly as he stooped to the ground and cupped a hand around the small brown mouse. “You’ve arrived just in time. Tell me what you have seen.”
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Postby hamlet » Thu Jun 03, 2004 12:37 pm

The King's image -- the monument to a new golden age of Gondor -- had been torn down. It lay, toppled and broken at the entrance to the Morgul Vale and already some of the ugly vine and lichen that survived in the slag heaps of the Gorgoroth was creeping over it, clutching tenaciously at any crack or crevice that offered purchase. In only a few months, a year perhaps, the statue would be wholly obscured; in another century, it would be naught but rubble.

Untended, Hamlet supposed, that such vines and mosses and lichens would, in the fullness of time, engulf all of Mordor perhaps. Or even all of the world. Such was the way of it: an innocuous, unassuming beginning, small and unnoticed. Eventually, it grew and consumed and insinuated itself into the main body until it had conquered its host, like any parasite. Once the infection occured, one could not hope to cure, but only to excise. "Such is the way of life," Hamlet muttered.

"What is the way of life?" Osram asked. The captain had sidled his horse up close without Hamlet noticing and was now watching him intently. "What can you or I know of the way of life but what small part we play in it?"

They had not known each other long, a matter of a few weeks or a month at longest. It had been easy enough to convince the captain to slay his former commander, easy enough for Hamlet to bend him to his own will seemingly, but frequently, Osram displayed a resevoir of strength and wisdom that was astonishing for an old soldier. Not for the last time, Hamlet felt that whatever measure of control he had over this man was only by consent.

"Only enough to know that the things held dear by the likes of you and I mean little anymore. The world is moving on, and we had best not be left behind."

Through the Vale, where once all but the bravest -- or most foolish -- of men feared to tred, through the tumbled stone that was once the city of the Witch King for a brief while, the passage of the power of the Ring was evident. Subtlety abandoned, the trail of it's passing stretched away before the eyes of those who could see. From there, returning to Mordor, then from the Black Gates in a slow and gentle curve to the north and east. But that was not all. It was not only the power of the One raised, but the Nine also. They began to realize again their old energies, feeding upon their bearers.

Somewhere, perhaps in the belly of a long dead dragon, or entombed in a long forgotten horde, the Seven twinkled, just a little. And perhaps, far beyond the shores of Middle Earth, the Three regained a bit of their old life.
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Postby Naveen » Fri Jun 25, 2004 11:15 pm

The Witch King sat staring at the crumbled heap of bone, pieces of armor and tattered cloth that had once been one of his undead soldiers. What had caused the creature to act the way it had, defying his orders and turning against him? He frowned, raising his hand to look at the ring he wore, anger tempered with annoyance raising to the surface in his thoughts. Something was different…He didn’t feel the underlying presence of the spirit that he had felt since returning. Was the spirit testing him again in some way? Could that be why?

“Step forward,” he ordered. His deep voice echoed in the empty corners of the throne room.

Pressed flat against the wall where she had tried to hide herself, Naveen could no more resist the command than she could have stopped the rain from falling from the sky. She felt her foot move forward a step. It was an eerie feeling, for when she tried to resist, she found she couldn’t. It was as if she were a puppet and the shadow-cloaked figure on the throne pulled the strings controlling her movements. Her heart beat faster and cold droplets of fear trickled down her back and she licked her suddenly dry lips as herb mind started working on a plan to save herself.

The woman was alone; he could sense no other living being in the throne room, nor indeed in the whole of the fortress. The Witch King tried to curb the annoyance that was building inside. A mere woman! Clenching his fists the wraith leaned forward, scrutinizing her, as she walked forward. Tall and dark haired, this woman was unlike Tempest, who with her blonde hair and fair skin was a constant thorn in his side, always reminding him of the abhorrent Rohirrim wench who had slain him. No, this woman was Haradrim; her dark flashing eyes, lightly lined with kohl evoked a long buried memory of the courtesans and harlots of his former domain…

But no courtesan was she, not dressed as she was like a man and holding a sword like she knew how to use it. ‘Have customs changed so much,’ he thought, ‘that it was now common for women to bare arms as readily as men?’ His eyes narrowed, first Tempest and now this one…

“Closer,” he ordered, then slowly stood and stepped down from the dais.

The air in the throne room grew still as the dark cloaked figure approached Naveen. He towered above her and she could feel the intensity of his gaze from in recesses of the hood draw over his head. It concealed his features as he circled around her. Naveen closed her eyes and breathed deeply then opened them; startled by the sound of a sword being drawn from its sheath. He was behind her and she dared not turn her head. With a deft flick of his blade, the wraith sliced through Naveen’s sword belt, scoring the leather of her vest in the process. The dull thud of the leather scabbard hitting the polished marble floor broke the heavy stillness.

“Who sent you?”

“No one.”

“You expect me…” The flat of his sword touch her leg next. Slowly it moved up her thigh until it found a leather strap holding a concealed blade. The sharp blade sliced through easily and it too fell to the floor. “… to believe you?”

“Yes. I have come, seeking to offer my sword in your service.” The lie came easier than she thought and Naveen lifted her chin and squared her shoulders. Ever so slowly she raised her hands and turned the sword she held so that the blade rested on her outstretched palms.

“What is one sword among many?” The Witch King laughed cruelly. “I already command an army of undead. They march on Annúminas.”

“Your army will be defeated before they reach…”

“QUIET!” Anger raged through him at the pure audacity of her remark. How dare she speak of defeat to him! He would have her head!

The air behind Naveen moved as he stepped swiftly around her, the edge of his cloak brushing against her boot so close did he come. Thinking quickly, Naveen bowed her head, afraid to look up and see the terrible dark visage that was surely concealed within the hood as he stopped in front of her. Raising the sword in her hands higher, she dropped to one knee and bowed her head further. “Do with me what you will,” she said softly, yet with a certain amount of conviction that halted the backward movement of his sword arm.

The Wraith stopped, looking at the woman. Who was she, kneeling there so still when braver men would’ve been shaking and sniveling while they begged for their life? Not wholly certain that this woman was not another trial sent by the spirit of Barad dûr, he brought the sword tip around so that it touched the triangle of exposed skin between the folds of her shirtfront. Slowly the tip rose, catching a thin leather cord from around her neck, until it reached the soft skin beneath her chin. Naveen gulped slightly as her head was forced higher and tried to keep her hands from shaking.

The glint of metal caught his eye and he maneuvered the sword tip until the amulet hanging from the leather cord Naveen wore around her neck rested on the flat side of the tip. Something about it was familiar…then he ground his teeth in annoyance. The amulet was of the same design as those he had gifted to certain courtesan’s whom he had favored in his long forgotten court. The spirit was certainly being subtle with this test…perhaps he thought to trick him.

“Where did you get this?” he asked, his voice low and menacing.

Confused, Naveen wasn’t sure what he was talking about until he tugged at the cord. “It was my mother’s. It has been passed down from mother to daughter in my family,” she answered truthfully. “Why do you ask?”

“Silence! I will ask the questions!” The amulet was of little importance other than its significance as a sign of the trial the spirit had set. He had given out many of them during his reign; some imbued with magical qualities while others were mere trinkets, but they all were used to mark his possessions.

“What of the army?”

She spoke the truth as far as she knew, or suspected. “They will be defeated. A host of men aided by the elves of Imladris marches against them. Your army of undead is disorganized and incapable of strategy. The only real advantage they have is their vast numbers…”

“Enough!” He did not need this mewling woman to point out what he already knew. He had seen in the palantír the destruction of the army caused by the sudden appearance of a stampeding herd of aurochs. In this, he saw the hand of that cursed Radagast. His hand tightened around the pommel of his sword as he cruelly forced Naveen’s head higher. “What service can you offer?” he sneered.

“Information…”

With the aid of the mouse, Radagast and Inwir made their way through the fortress of Carn Dûm, avoiding the undead soldiers they happened across in the passageways. At last they reached a large circular room at the head of a staircase.

Radagast held up his hand in warning. They were close to the Witch King; he could feel it. The sound of voices could be heard and he gripped the shaft of his staff and looked at Inwir; one of the voices was Naveen’s. Nodding grimly, Inwir drew his sword and motioned Radagast to move forward. On silent feet they approached a pair of heavy doors, keeping to the shadows until they stood on either side the arched entrance to the throne room. The brown wizard’s face grew as dark as a storm cloud as he listened.

“Traitor!” he called out stepping into the room and loosening a bolt of energy in the direction of the kneeling figure.
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Postby Finrod_the_Faithful » Mon Jul 05, 2004 2:12 pm

The spring sunlight filtered weakly down into Mordor and glinted off of the helms of the cavalry that accompanied the Kings as they rode out. Eldarion’s bare black hair shone next to Folcwine’s yellow locks. Captain Beneshoff rode beside him, and Alairic was on his father’s right hand. Behind them came Elrohir with Benoit, Mulrain, and Dacius.

Back and to the left, as silent and incongruous as ever, Legrace, swathed in her cloak, rode sidesaddle upon her gray colt. With her was the Lady Alys, girded and armed for battle like the men.

The approaching army was of men with nary an orc or other dark creature in sight. At the head rode a man woman proud in bearing and serious in demeanor. Slowly, the heads of the two armies came together. The rider leading the army out of Mordor trotted ahead of her men, so the small group of captains of the West moved ahead to meet her. They halted a little way apart, close enough to speak without raising their voices in the still air.

“I am told that you call yourselves Queen of Mordor,” Folcwine remarked evenly. “It is a surprise to me, for this land was conquered by the Kings of Gondor and of Rohan a generation ago. By what right do you now use this title?”
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Postby Tempest » Fri Jul 23, 2004 2:11 pm

"What do you think of this little group, Zanki?" Tempest asked the captain beside her as they separated themselves from the main host and slowly went forward to face the captains of the West.

"I recognize many of them. They are powerful men," he replied.

"Men and Elves, for I see both. But more importantly, I see a King among them. This meeting is going exactly as planned."

As the two groups finally came together and stopped, their horses pranced and stamped impatiently. There was silence at first, as each side seemed unsure who would first speak.

Folcwine finally cleared his throat and spoke directly, his tone questioning and laced with distrust. "I am told that you call yourselves King and Queen of Mordor. It is a surprise to me, for this land was conquered by the Kings of Gondor and of Rohan a generation ago. By what right do you now use these titles?"

"Perhaps the land was conquered by the West, but never the hearts of the people. I represent them, the creatures you have hunted down for as long as they have drawn breath and have denied the basic rights that you give to the lowliest subject in your own lands." Tempest paused as she studied each face before her. They were wise to distrust her, yet they were as curious about her as she was about them. "I am the Voice of Mordor. I speak on their behalf."

Folcwine noted the rich brightness of her hair, a stark contrast to the foul creatures that roamed the barren wastelands or even those who came from the far South or East. "You speak on their behalf, yet you are not one of them."

Tempest smiled. "Careful, captain. Appearances can be deceiving. Did you expect, perhaps, that the Queen of Mordor would be some frightful creature of darkness? That is the problem with your people: You act on suppositions. The Dark Lord himself could appear fair if he wished it." She paused again, weighing her words. "Of course, I do not pretend to be a Dark Lord. I only wish to restore a piece of the glory of what once was Mordor. I wish only for peace between our peoples. This is, I believe, what you also wish."
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Postby Sauron's_Nagging_Wife » Thu Jul 29, 2004 2:13 pm

Though surrounded by wearisome mortals, the presence of Elrohir soothed Legrace; thus, the pretty woman leading the other army held her rapt attention without distraction, she who was called Tempest. Tempest the child of a mortal woman. Tempest the fierce warrior who had abandoned the infinite power of femininity for the limited strength of men’s weaponry. Tempest who had served as apprentice to the Old King of Angmar. Tempest who had been fathered by one whom Legrace had known long ago and in a different world.

Tempest holds the key.

The memory of the dream and the message electrified her and every muscle tensed. The emotions coursed through her with sharps pricks of pain as if her blood carried ten thousand slivers of glass within it. Later had she discovered the source of the dream: a presence she would not again know, a voice she would not again hear, a love she would not again feel. For that moment, she dwelt in the past before regaining the ability to force the feelings down.

Useless words were passing between the people who lead the armies until the woman said, “the Dark Lord himself could appear fair if he wished it.”

Legrace raised a trembling hand to her forehead and drew in a long, deep breath as memories and emotions swelled again.

“…the glory of what once was Mordor.”

Her chuckle was close to a sob. Glory? In Mordor? When had there been glory here? Had there ever been? And what use was glory? Had there ever truly been such a thing in this narrow, confining world? It was a perception only, a subjective thing, and in the endless eons Legrace had known something better: joy. In dance, in love, and in her children, she had known joy. No glory, for it was a cheap perception of men and mortals only.

“My lady, are you unwell?” asked Lady Alys beside her. They were looking at her now: Elrohir in concern, Eldarion and the others, and the woman Tempest with brows raised.

“Forgive me,” said Legrace in a wavering voice of mirth that bordered hysteria. “I cannot remember the glory of Mordor.” And she laughed, but tears trickled from the corners of her eyes.
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Postby Naveen » Tue Aug 03, 2004 10:18 pm

“Traitor!”

Naveen’s natural instinct was to duck, but with the Witch Kings sword tip still pressed beneath her chin, all she could was throw herself sideways. The force of Radagast’s attack did not hit her fully, but hit her it did, slamming against her right shoulder and spinning her around. Her back arched as a scream of agony tore from her lips before her body went limp and dropped to the hard polished floor. At nearly the same instant the wraith raised his dark sword with both hands to use as a shield and meet the force of the attack. White flames burst all around the shadowy form, filling the room with a brilliant light that momentarily blinded Inwir and made the wraith stagger backwards a few steps.

“You!” the Witch King snarled.

“Yes I,” Radagast answered as he stepped further into the room. Drawing himself up to his full height, Radagast looked every bit the Istari that he was with his white hair and beard framing his ancient, but ageless face that shone with an inner light. The stains of travel vanished from his simple homespun robe and his presence seemed to fill the room. Inwir stepped back, a little in awe at the grim look on his friend’s face.

Then mocking laughter filled the room as the Nazgûl Lord pointed his sword at Radagast. “You think to best me? It is better you return to your little friends of the forest where you hid the last time I walked this land. You are no match for me...”

Inwir clasped the hilt of Ringil firmly and stepped up beside Radagast. His warrior’s stance was relaxed but he was braced for the forthcoming encounter. In the presence of the Witch King, the old wound he’d received at their last meeting throbbed anew with an icy pain that shot through him. He gasped as he doubled over. Cold sweat beaded his forehead and he gritted his teeth looking at the wraith and seeing his form on the nether plain of his existence. His handsome face was twisted in a cruel sneer. “You I will deal with later!” the Nazgûl stated ruthlessly as another wave of freezing pain washed over him. Inwir stumbled backward, dropping to one knee as he fought against the searing pain.

Radagast’s eyes flashed dangerously but he remained silent, ignoring the barbs that held a grain of truth in them. He took another step forward, spreading his arms wide before bringing both hands together and gripping the shaft of his wooden staff. Raising it high, he brought it down swiftly, striking the floor with a resounding thump. A tremor ran across the polished marble and shook the walls of the room.

When nothing happened, no bolt of energy nor blazing flame issued in space between them, the wraith laughed again. This fool of an Istari who dared to stand before him in his own throne room would soon feel the extent of his power and wrath. Small red flames began to trickle along the black blade in his hand until the whole of the sword was engulfed in a writhing sheet of crimson. He brought his sword up then advanced swiftly and surely, forcing Radagast to take a defensive stand.

Radagast parried the first blow, which would otherwise have split his skull, with his staff as flaming droplets for crimson fire rained down upon his head. He sidestepped the next attack aimed at his ribs then fluidly turned, a move that belied his age, and drove the tip of his staff into the Nazgûl's midsection. The wraith hissed sharply. Then with eyes glowing a fierce red that matched the flaming sword, he drove Radagast back against the wall with a flurry of strokes. Feeling the coldness seep into his back from the black polished surface, Radagast raised his staff in front of him to ward off the expected blow and uttered a sharp command.

Then a sound filled the room, like that of rustling leaves caught in the sudden wind before a storm, and a thousand scurrying feet rushed forth. Down the passageways and through the door, hidden cracks and crevices they came in a wave, hundreds of mice, rats and other furred creatures that had made their home in the forbidding fortress of Carn Dûm. And headed straight toward the Lord of the Nazgûls. They swarmed over him, scratching, clawing and biting as they climbed up his booted legs or found purchase on his long flowing cloak. In seconds they clung by the dozens from the wraiths dark raiment’s. Radagast watched through narrowed eyes as the Ringwraith, caught off-guard began to curse as he tried to brush off the offending creatures. Then he remembered his old Friend from the Grey Havens and took his eyes from the figure standing in front of him. It was a fatal mistake.
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Postby hamlet » Wed Aug 18, 2004 12:26 pm

North and west, crossing the great road and then leaving it far behind. Across the River at a loud ford where the water turned white against the stones and the smell of herbs and heather warmed in the sun banished the memory of the foul odors of Mordor and the Morgul Vale.

The small group, no more than ten or fifteen horses, passed through a few villages where the farm folk might have looked up at the oddity of an armed patrol riding by. But probably not. Two generations of life under the aegis of the King had taught these people that they needn't be mindful of strangers upon the road, especially those garbed in the colors of the guardian city. The sight of its concentric walls and the graceful spire of the White Tower on the horizon must have been a constant reassurance to the folk of the new kingdom of Gondor.

A king sat upon the throne, the tree bloomed again, the roads were safe, there was no need to even remember the shadow out of the east on the other side of the shadowy mountains. Out of living memory and comfortably out of mind.

They did not even notice the storm beginning to break over their own heads.
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