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 the mouth of sauron » Fri Jul 19, 2002 7:34 am

A few hours before the return of the Mouth of Sauron to Barad-Dur.<BR><BR>Many days the hunter traversed the rugged Mordorian landscape, many days pass with out food and only very little water where he could find a small spring or water seeping from a rock face.<BR><BR>Then one day Helazzar opened his eyes and there was the dark tower was the Dark tower looming only a few miles away… It may as well have been a thousand miles away… the lack of game in this land had made going tough for the assassin, but where he lacked food… the ring he carried sustained him some. <BR><BR>On wards he strove, the ring giving him more strength the close he drew to its home, onwards it called and compelled him. Along the edge of a small ravine the ledge gave way and there was nothing he could do to keep his footing and Helazzar slid down the rock face into a crumpled and bloodied mess. <BR><BR>Final Helazzar came to and wiped the blood out of his eyes he was hurt but no bones were broken… But before he knew what had happened many strong hands tried to restrain his arms and legs… but his assailants did not count on encountering this resourceful assassin and in a blinding flash many lost digits and limbs…<BR><BR>Those orcs that were not injured in the assassin first attack rushed and subdued the Hunter… The lady Tempest and given orders about this one… dead or alive. <BR><BR>Four hours before the Mouth of Sauron … Helazzar the great was cast before the feet of Tempest.<BR><BR><BR><BR>The Mouth of Sauron spurred his horse on the home straight and was quickly followed by his captains and elite guards. He took in the landscape that had been his home for so long, a few leagues back the land and started to become rocky and broken… It was created that way not to stop invaders but to stop they’re escaping once with in the teeth of Mordor.<BR><BR>Now as he started to draw near to the great tower known as Barad Dur he passed more and more settlements and camps of orcs and trolls and word spread of his coming.<BR><BR>For the last mile of his ride he slowed to a trot and the other horsemen caught up with him. On either side of the road were lined men, trolls and orcs all on display and all in battle armor, and a mighty cheer went up. The lieutenant of Barad Dur smiled Tempest had been busy and successful in his absences and that was what he expected from her, and her reward would be great. It was obvious that she had even got the old forges working and had managed to hide the vents and the smoke that would escape them… He was very pleased.<BR><BR>At last he reached the great doors where Kylab greeted him. The massive troll bowed as The Mouth of Sauron dismounted “Greeting my Lord Lieutenant, The Lady Tempest has everything ready in anticipation of your return, all Mordor awaits your command… please follow me M’lord.”<BR><BR>The Mouth of Sauron through his muddied travel stained riding cloak to a man near to him… <BR><BR>"Kylab come with me for I now go to see your mistress, I will show you a wonderus site... And we shall talk, for I have an offer to make you..." The Mouth of Sauron applied his skill and power of the spoke word upon the powerful troll. <BR><BR>The two walked for some time and when they reached a certain location the Mouth of Sauron whispered a few words and an invisable door swung open and they walked in.
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Postby Tempest » Fri Jul 19, 2002 4:00 pm

With a slight smile, Tempest gazed down on the bloodied body of Helazzar. She was glad that he was still in one piece, for she knew that the orcs had had a hard time getting him to comply with them. Noting the nasty gash on his head, she knew that his resistance had come at a heavy price. <BR><BR><i>"Helazzar,"</i> she began, going forward and lifting up his head by his hair so that he could look her in the face. <i>"I have been waiting for you, Helazzar."</i><BR><BR>He looked at her and immedietly recognized her despite his delirium. He lunged towards her, but she backed away with a laugh and he found that he was in thick restraints and prevented him from going any further. He watched her with fierce eyes, like that of a wild creature that has never before been caged. <BR><BR>But she intended to be the beast trainer this day.<BR><BR><i>"Where is the ring, Helazzar? Do you carry it with you always? I have felt it, and I have felt you as you neared this place. You have never been out of my mind, for you and I are joined."</i><BR><BR>He snarled something that she couldn't make out, but she drew closer to him again. <i>"We are not that different, you and I. We have both been used, both been alone. But you know what they say, 'The lone wolf dies alone.' It need not be that way for us. You could join us, join me, Helazzar. I am not the monster you think I am."</i> His eyes were glazed, but she knew it was not from his wounds. No, the ring had begun its work on him, and he could not resist it. He would make a competent slave, this one. Especially since he had powerful friends who still considered him their ally. Yes, she could do much with him. She would let the ring wield its power over him a little longer before she would finally attempt to use him. <BR><BR>She leaned down and whispered gently in his ear. <i>"Helazzar, I am your sister now, and you are my brother. We will not let them hurt us any longer. We will make them pay for their crimes, all of them...."</i>
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Postby the mouth of sauron » Fri Jul 19, 2002 10:07 pm

She leaned down and whispered gently in his ear. <i>"Helazzar, I am your sister now, and you are my brother. We will not let them hurt us any longer. We will make them pay for their crimes, all of them...."</i> <BR><BR>The hunter bearer of one of the nine could see and hear her clearly now… she did not seem like the lady he had defeated those many months ago to get his ring… No her appearance was fair and so where her sweet words. <BR><BR>They had indeed become sister and brother… the others were fool! All of them! They were all jealous of him and his ring… the sons of Elrond, Naveen, Jaxon, and Aramere and Nitsua they had all been jealous. They had all betrayed him and betrayal was an unforgivable crime.<BR><BR>Helazzar looked into her eyes as she took a rag and cleaned some of the blood from them… finally the ring had a foothold in him… <i>“I heard you call me my dear sister… We will make them pay!”</i><BR><BR>At that moment the door opened and Kylab entered <i>M’lady Tempest I present to you Lord Urzahil!</i> <BR>With that the Lieutenant of Barad Dur entered the room. <BR>
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Postby Inwir_Draunimion » Fri Jul 19, 2002 11:48 pm

<BR><BR><BR><BR><BR>Gelmir parted the brush in front of his face slowly, ever so slowly. <BR><BR> His breathing steady, his movements muted and fluid, the elf patiently waited in the small copse of brush for the orc patrol to pass. Only five of the snarling, putrid brutes, but the second patrol in five minutes. They were closing in. They knew he was in this area, but could not pinpoint his location. He could be as silent as a snake through the underbrush and as quick as a deer. His scent had been his greatest enemy, but the elf had learned many tricks to fool the witless orcs in the thousands of years since his tutelage under Beleg. Gelmir thought of the Strongbow often and felt pride at having been the warder’s pupil. He looked through the brush, past the trees that began to thin fifty or so yards ahead and then beyond that, past a bit of rolling grassland, to the Anduin and the Carrock, his first destination.<BR><BR> His passage over the Misty Mountains had been uneventful, until he began to descend into the upper foothills of the range. He saw campfires and small groups of orcs gathering in the hills. Tired looking supply caravans, descending from the high passes, and presumably the orcs hidden dens, meandered their way down to the camps that were growing by the day, as Gelmir made his way through the hills. He very likely would have passed unnoticed by the foul creatures if not for a bit of mercy on his part. At dusk of his second day beyond the High Pass, Gelmir happened upon a small, wizened orc that had evidently gotten the worst end of an encounter with some form of wild animal, a bear or boar perhaps. Gelmir saw that the twitching, almost bloodless orc was not only at death’s door, but had very likely passed through and was tenaciously clinging to the threshold by its fingernails. Both legs horribly mangled and broken, the orcs left side was torn and shredded, it’s ribcage partially visible, a huge gash across it’s ugly face. Gelmir simply stood and stared at it for a moment, wondering if the creature deserved the mercy he wished to show it. Finally, deciding that such judgment was not his to pass, the elf drew one of his thin-bladed daggers and stepped towards the dying orc.<BR> <BR> At that moment, for reasons Gelmir could not comprehend, the orcs eyes snapped open and looked directly at the elf. Comprehension took a brief moment to dawn upon the pathetic creature before it drew in as deep a breath as it was still capable of, and shrieked like it was staring into the Eye of Sauron itself. Gelmir was so surprised that it took him a moment to understand that his mercy, his attempt at kindness to an orc, had gone horribly wrong. The camps that were near and the patrols that were even nearer, would be on him in minutes, if not seconds. The elf stepped forward and leaned down, swinging his arm and blade, all in one fluid motion to end the wretches scream. Gelmir returned his dagger to its sheath and glanced quickly around at the trees and brush. He listened for the right path to take. South.<BR><BR> The next twelve hours were spent avoiding the growing number of orcs hunting him. They combed the vales of the foothills, having picked up his scent, and the way became slow and frustrating for the elf. All night he spent, working his way out of the foothills, avoiding or dispatching the orcs as he encountered them, until this morning. <BR><BR> He moved from his position in the brush and followed behind the patrol until they had reached the last line of trees that rimmed the open grassland, leading in a gentle slope down to the Anduin. The Carrock loomed before him and slightly to his left, a bit upstream. He stared intently at the far shore, hoping to see some hint of the men said to live in the area. The Beornings. Surely they must know of the increased activity of the orcs on the western shore. He knew the vast majority of the orcs remained in the mountains and to the North, but this many of the foul creatures roaming openly in the vales of Anduin should surely have come to the attention of these defenders of the Carrock. So why could he see no patrols? Truly, not even a hint of life on the far side of the river. <BR><BR> He looked north and south and then stared intently at the distance between himself and the river, perhaps two hundred yards. He could not be sure if the area was being watched, but it was a safe assumption. He knew the sprint would take him at least half a minute. Much could happen in so short a time. ‘Well,’ thought Gelmir, ‘I have no choice. If it turns out to have been ill advised, well, I shall have that much more to berate Inwir for within the Halls of Mandos.’ He waited and watched for a minute more and glanced to his left and right again.<BR><BR> Now.<BR><BR> He was fast. He did not have the Noldorin ability, the fluid blur of motion that was so deadly in combat, but he had lived in the forest almost his entire existence. He was a Sindarin elf yet in his prime and he sprang from the foliage like a hart in flight. Cutting through the low grass like a zephyr from the west, he was elated to see the river appear already closer. Then came the hoots and shouts, the shrieking of dozens of goblins, breaking from the tress behind him. As he glanced back, he realized they could not catch him. Then he heard the same shrieks from in front of him and knew he was very likely in serious trouble. He saw before him ten, hunched, dark forms rise from the grass, about twenty yards ahead.<BR><BR> Coming to a sudden halt, Gelmir immediately glanced back and saw the orcs from the trees gaining on him. Ahead, the ten goblins patiently made their way toward the elf. ‘These are different,’ Gelmir thought. ‘These are more focused. Better armored. Where does this organization come from?’ <BR><BR> Then, somewhat bemused that he would have such a speculative and indifferent thought just moments before what would seem to be imminent death, Gelmir drew his longsword and dagger, smiled and resigned himself to what was to come.<BR><BR><BR><BR><BR><BR><BR><BR><BR><BR><BR><BR><BR><BR>
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Postby hamlet » Sun Jul 21, 2002 10:58 am

Camgalen's visits became more and more frequent. Though he afforded Hamlet all the respect due to a captured officer, it was clear that the young man was becoming extremely agitated. He had been ordered not only to hold the gates of the Morrannon, but also to seek out any orcs that might be lurking in the few scattered fortresses on the enclosed plain of Udun. To accomplish this task, he had been given a scant three hundred men.<BR><BR>He would always come before the noon meal and sit at a table specialy brought for him. Dressed in full uniform, he looked the spitting image of the statues that lined the courts of Gondor, a soldier of the White City at its hayday: stern, proud, and sure. And always standing at his commander's elbow, Osram, who was all of those things that Camgalen strove so hard to be.<BR><BR>"What is the disposition of the defensive forces in this area?"<BR><BR>"We've been over this before, Captain. Come now, if you can't think of new questions to ask me, we shall all grow bored, and I do so enjoy our time together." Hamlet took his customary pose, reclined on his cot with his hands behind his head, seemingly half asleap.<BR><BR>"Sir, it would be best for all of us if you coopoerate." Behind Camgalen, Osram nodded his approval. The lieutenant had been forced on more than one occasion to restrain his commander, a task he thought he should never have to do. Such outbursts were more than unbecoming, they were unproductive and a good soldier should always strive to be productive at all times. "Where are the units that reinforced the gate garrisons?"<BR><BR>Something in the earnestnous of Camgalen's voice made Hamlet open his eyes completely. In his amaturish way, the boy hid much of what he truly thought behind carefully worded questions and a stiffly composed face. This had been a completely honest question with nothing hidden behind it. Almost nothing, it wasn't the entire truth certainly. "You can't find them."<BR><BR>"So you do know where they are?"<BR><BR>"No, and you can't find them. Can you?" Hamlet looked him straight in the eye, an experience Camgalen found more than a little unsettling. "When you came here, the hordes and swarms of defenders you expected, that everyone expected . . . simply weren't here were they?"<BR><BR>"I will ask the questions if you don't mind."<BR><BR>"How few were there?" This last question was directed at Osram. "How many?"<BR><BR>"You will speak to me, Sir." Camgalen was swiftly losing his temper, but Hamlet hardly noticed this time.<BR><BR>"When we arrived at the gates, only a few, forty or fifty, were seen, and they vanished before they could be stopped," Osram said.<BR><BR>"Lieutenant! Remain silent!"<BR><BR>"And the reinforcements? The fortress guards?"<BR><BR>"Be silent!" The captian stood, knocking his chair to the ground and slammed his gloved fist on the table.<BR><BR>"We have found . . . no one."<BR><BR>"You will be silent! Both of . . ."<BR><BR>"Shut-up, child!" Hamlet interrupted. If the gates stood unguarded, then that meant something else was going on, something much greater than this little boy playing at soldier could possibly comprehend. "How many men have marched east with you? Who commands them?"<BR><BR>As children are wont, Camgalen became insenced when one of his toys ceased to function properly. Whith wild, ativistic eyes and a snarl of rage, he lunged across the table seeking to strangle his prisoner.<BR><BR>Osram was unable to lay a restraining hand on the younger man's shoulder before he had siezed Hamlet by the throat and bore him to the ground under all of his weight.<BR><BR>What happened next was never clear outside of Hamlet's tent. Camgalen and Hamlet struggled on the ground. Then there was the squelching sound of steel entereing flesh, and Captain Camgalen fell limp, dead. It was generally accepted that Hamlet had become enraged at his captor and had somehow managed to sieze Osram's weapon. While the captain turned to flee, it was thought that Hamlet had stabbed him in the back. Versions of the story were as numerous as there were soldiers who told it, but Hamlet and Osram never sought to clarify events.<BR><BR>Looking up from the floor, Hamlet said, "Thank you, Osram."<BR><BR>****************************************************************<BR><BR>Winter seemed to have no meaning in the cursed land of Mordor, except perhaps to intensify and deepen the despair of the place. Though it was not cold, not even the scrubby, thorny plants that scratched out a life in the wretched, tortured soil lived in this quasi-season. Noxious vapours and dust clouds traveled the landscape taking the breath from any unfortunate enough to be caught in one.<BR><BR>Osram, born in the northern territories of Gondor, had very infrequently seen snow. The winters of his childhood and youth had been mild compared to the stories brought out of the north and from the west. Many hobbits, a new breed of traveller to the City of Guard, brought tales of the great winter in which wolves had crossed the frozen Brandywine, though many of the younger folks never quite believed it, thinking the story served to enhance the family image the way it was intertwined with geneaologies and old family stories.<BR><BR>There was something definately wrong with the season, Osram decided, "Just like there's something wrong with this entire cursed place!" <i>Just like there's something wrong with everything,</i> he thought to himself, though he would never speak it aloud. A veteran of twenty years, Osram grated at being ordered about by a boy. Even worse, men of Gondor being ordered about by elves, moved back and forth like so many game pieces on the playing board. Worse yet, the greatest nation in Middle-earth governed by a child playing at king.<BR><BR>"Worst of all, a seasoned soldier who fails in his duty and betrays his captain." Osram stood on an outcropping half a mile from camp. He was breaking his own orders, that everyone remain in camp. It was dangerous to be alone away from any aid. One could be attacked by trolls or orcs. "Trolls and orcs we've seen neither hide nor hair of." Only a token defense and empty gate-houses.<BR><BR>Patrols had searched every passageway, tunnel, and crevice they could gane access to and found no sign of the armies they expected. The hordes of legend, multitudes swarming as far as the eye could see turning the strangely red soil of Mordor black with writhing bodies.<BR><BR>The soil of Mordor was red. Blood cried out from the ground, old and dry brown stains on the walls. Fresh blood that coated everything and made horrible squelching sounds.<BR><BR>Boy captains, elf generals, child kings . . . "And one mysterious man." Osram looked back at camp, at the small tent where Hamlet remained prisoner. "One man who I can't even be sure is lying to me."<BR><BR>Reaching a decision, Osram headed back for the camp.<BR><BR>*******************************************************************<BR><BR>Darkness and heat, the stench of an unventilated forge swallowed Hamlet. After the cold of the north, the heat was suffocating. Suddenly, the pitch was lit by a lurid glow of fire and he found himself in a claustraphobic chamber. Across from him, the figure of Sauron the Forger. A shadowy, nebulous form of a naked man with blackened and scorched hands, burned from the fires of his forge. It was exactly as Hamlet remembered, even the voice, powerful, commanding.<BR><BR><i>You were a good servant during the war, Hamlet.</i> The familiarity of the voice was like a warm, silken blanket, wrapping him up and protecting him, a thin and invisible shield against the world around him.<BR><BR>"My Lord?"<BR><BR><i>A most decidedly efficient captain, if I recall correctly. And I always do.</i> Sauron's form shifted and moved around the corner of the room, coming much closer. <i>It remains to be seen if you are still a good servant. And I know you could be. You have such . . . potential.</i><BR><BR>"I have always been a devoted servant of you, my Lord."<BR><BR><i>Yes.</i> The syllable was drawn out, almost like a hiss. Serpent-like, Sauron came closer. <i>That is why you are so special. You were never a slave. Always you made the choice. Such a good man you were.</i><BR><BR>"I will always serve you faithfully."<BR><BR><i>Will you?</i> Hamlet made no response. <i>Then I claim your service.</i> Sauron was standing nose to nose with Hamlet, close enough that the man could feel the god's breath. Then, before Hamlet knew what had happened, Sauron was gone and Hamlet was filled with an intense pain, as if his skin had shrunk three sizes. He could feel it swelling in him, felt as if he would burst. Fire ran through his viens, seared his spirit, and then he felt himself being pushed back, into the background.<BR><BR>"Wake up!" Sitting bolt upright on his cot, Hamlet found himself facing Osram who looked nearly as haunted as he did. "You were yelling in your sleep, talking in a language strange to us, strange and terrible."<BR><BR>Quickly recovering himself, Hamlet said, "You look much the same as I, Osram."<BR><BR>"Yes. The new captain having more in common with his prisoner than with his men." Osram laughed.<BR><BR>"It would make a good story."<BR><BR>"Perhaps. I have a deal to make with you." Osram handed Hamlet his boots.
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Postby Inwir_Draunimion » Fri Jul 26, 2002 11:27 pm

<BR><BR><BR><BR>Elladan looked out over the shallow valley where Thebin planned to attack the dread army, now swiftly approaching them. He was sure the Generals plan was sound. There was no better option, no terrain that suited them more ideally than this. It would have to be here. The undead were roughly ten miles north of the valley, spread out and moving at an erratic pace. They seemed to have no organization, no strategy. They just kept moving forward. Small groups of no more than a dozen had been spotted ahead of the vanguard and were summarily dispatched with no loss of life. So far.<BR><BR>The elf lord was about to turn and return to his forces when suddenly, from out of the sky above, a sparrow landed on the pommel of his saddle. Now used to this method of communication, Elladan waited to receive the latest from Radagast. After a few brief moments, the sparrow took flight and Elladan wheeled his horse around, spurring it towards the command tents.<BR><BR>Dodging past campfires and groups of soldiers clustered about, Elladan made his way to the largest tent, the banner of Annuminas billowing in the cold afternoon breeze. Leaping from his horse, the elf strode past the two sentinels on either side of the entrance and threw back the flap. Inside, braziers afforded a dim view of General Thebin and his captains, all bent over a map of the region and discussing the placement of troops for what seemed to be imminent battle by first light in the morning. <BR><BR>As Elladan reached the table, Thebin turned to the elf and said, “Your urgency is written upon your face. What news?”<BR><BR>Elladan hurriedly replied, “You must pull back all the scouts you have in the field. Give them orders to return hither, as soon as they can. Now may already be too late!”<BR><BR>“But why?” replied Thebin.<BR><BR>“Radagast has sent aid,” answered Elladan. “But it may be a danger to our own forces as well as the dead. Our position here will likely be safe, they should stay more to the north.”<BR><BR>“They?” asked the General. “They who?”<BR><BR>“The aurochs. They stampede,” replied Elladan.<BR><BR><BR>******************************************************************<BR><BR><BR><BR>Farly waited for his companion to reach the crest. The human Jonaas, a scout from Fornost, had been through this region two days before. When Farly had drawn scouting duty, he was pleased to find that he would be heading out with someone familiar with the terrain. As Jonaas crept up to the crest of the ridge, Farly turned and brought his finger to his lips. “Shhhhh,” and he pointed to a clearing in the mists ahead. Below their position on the low ridge shambled perhaps three dozen of the animated dead, their jerky momentum nonetheless carrying them across the moors.<BR><BR>The two scouts crept down the ridge, keeping the foul creatures to their right. When the two reached a huge granite boulder, ahead and to their left, they waited to make sure the group of undead did indeed pass on to the south and the waiting army beyond.<BR><BR>They felt it before they actually heard it.<BR><BR>A slight tremor in the very ground, loose dirt and pebbles falling from the boulder before them. The vibration continued to build and they could feel it in their bones, the ground thrumming and seeming to shake. The sound arrived and it was amplified by the mists surrounding them. A rumbling roar, thunder moving across the land. It took a few moments, but Jonaas began to realize their plight. Grabbing the hobbit by the scruff of the neck and the seat of his pants, Jonaas began to swing Farly, trying to build momentum. With a questioning squawk , Farly was flung upwards to the top third of the rock. He scrabbled for purchase on the craggy surface and began to ascend, the cacophony of hooves deafening and almost upon them. Glancing down, Farly saw Jonaas begin to climb the boulder.......and then he simply disappeared. The scene was replaced with a blur of motion and the roar of thousands of beasts passing below. Farly called out for Jonaas, but he knew it was in vain. Scurrying up to the top of the rock, Farly was greeted with an awesome scene. A sea of beasts flowed past him, charging and bellowing, horns flashing in the dim afternoon sun. The dark, shaggy forms bursting from the mists to the hobbits left and then past the boulder to once again enter the mists to his right, south and east. Farly realized the flow of animals was headed directly towards the main force of the undead. How or why this was happening, the hobbit did not know. He slowly sat down and watched as the massive herd continued to roll past him, the vibration coursing through the very rock he sat upon. He sat and mourned for his human friend and after a long while began to wonder if there was to be any end to this horrendous torrent of power and life that passed before him.<BR><BR>Then, after what seemed like hours, he began to see gaps in the rush of fur and horn. The beasts were becoming more scattered and he could see the ground finally. When the last few stragglers had run past, Farly saw the turf, scarred and beaten, rents in the earth scored towards the southeast.<BR><BR>He didn’t move from the rock. He didn’t make a sound.<BR><BR>And that’s the way they found him.<BR><BR> <BR><BR><BR><BR><BR><BR><BR>
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Postby the mouth of sauron » Tue Jul 30, 2002 12:59 am

There booted feet clicked on the stone floors of the empty hallways of Barad Dur it was the only sound to be heard where ever they went, after some time a climbing a few flights of stairs… <BR><BR>For a moment they stand out front of what was Sauron’s personal War Room, Urzahil and Tempest paused for a moment in awe or something like it. Finally he strolled in there and Tempest followed. She her self had been here many times but not since His fall and defeat, even now she could not bring her self to say his name in this room… it was as if He were still here!<BR><BR><i>“So you feel it too?”</i> The Mouth uttered, Tempest the one time lieutenant of Saruman looked him in the eyes and nodded. The pair walked over to a large stone table, on it were many counters and the table its self was an ancient map of all Middle Earth. <BR><BR>They talked for many hours on troop movements, shared what information pertained to the coming events, sharing the even the secret of the seeing stone given to him by Akhôrahil. He also informed her about this man and certain plans they had made, taking the stone Urzahil showed her his coming army, which was now only a day’s ride from Barad Dur, then he shifted there view to where the Gondorians were encamped… <i>“I have grown strong in my absences, with help from the Lady Legrace.”</i> They locked eyes for a time as if they were reading each other…<i>”Forget it!”</i> He finally said<i>“The spirit say we can not trust her!”</i><BR><BR>This news did not seem to please Tempest, but then he was not there to please anyone…<i>“Now to the serious business”</i><BR><BR>Many hours passed as they talked of the road that Mordor and her allies would take and the role that they would play in it.<BR><BR><i>“I liked your ideas for the one called Helazzar, I have some plans for this one as well, as for Kylab and the orcs as I have said I have great plans for them. Yet one thing remains… what is your answer to my proposal?” </i><BR>
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Postby Tempest » Tue Jul 30, 2002 7:02 am

Tempest looked into the dark eyes of the Mouth of Sauron and she knew what her answer would be. He would play nicely into her plans, for their goals remained the same, up to a point. He wanted to rebuild Mordor, as did she. He had spoken with a fervor she had not known in him before, and she suddenly wondered how much else had changed behind his cold fascade. <BR><BR>The spirit had told him to disregard Legrace, but Tempest would not play the fool in that regard. Legrace could do them much harm or much good, and she would not dismiss the lady so easily. She had learned not to take even the smallest soldier for granted, for she had been surprised before. Never again though.<BR><BR>He was still waiting for her answer patiently as all these thoughts went through her head. <i>"I think you already know my answer,"</i> she said with a slight smile, <i>"For you and I have always shared the same vision. My answer is simply: Yes."</i>
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Postby Naveen » Tue Jul 30, 2002 12:16 pm

<BR><BR>The storm passed, its fury spent quickly in loud rumbles of thunders and flashes of lightning that rent the air with brilliant bursts of bluish-white light. Brief torrents of rain had fallen, washing the stark landscape of the red colored mountainside and then, just as quickly, was gone.<BR><BR>Tiny rivulets of water ran across the ground at Naveen’s feet. She glanced down and could barely suppress a shudder. The hard red clay had turned the water a reddish hue that reminded her of dried blood. She tore her eyes from the ground beneath her feet and concentrated instead on the drawing that Inwir was working on in the wet earth in front of him.<BR><BR>He was sketching from some distant memory what the once proud fortress of Carn Dum had looked like. His face was grim as he recounted to Naveen that it had laid in ruin for years and had been thus when Nerdanel had been there.<BR><BR>He paused, the point of the blade he sketched with passing through a stream of the rusty red water. Perhaps the color of the water beginning to slowly seep into the hard clay at his feet had stirred some distant memory of a blood soaked battlefield. But Naveen could only guess at his thoughts, for his elven features were, like many of those of his race whom she had encountered, inscrutable when they wanted to hide their thoughts. <BR><BR>His hand shifted on his knife, plunging the blade into the earth with undisguised savagery, <i>“But it has been restored…”</i> he stated quietly and only loosened his grip when Radagast approached.<BR><BR>They both stood at the wizards’ approach, the smell of pipe smoke from the pipe held in his mouth scenting the chill, rain freshened air. Orodreth was a few steps behind, but the lady Nerdanel still sat under a sheltered overhang staring off into the growing darkness. <BR><BR><i>“Are you ready then?”</i> he asked the thief as he stood looking at her slight figure. He looked stern, but Naveen could discern a kindly twinkle in his eyes. <BR><BR><i>“Yes. Inwir has briefed me on what Carn Dum once was like…and also what he could relate of its structure from when Elladan and Helazzar rescued the Lady Nerdanel…”</i> She glanced over the wizards’ shoulder at the elven woman; she had not stirred.<BR><BR><i>“It has been restored since then, and by what means…”</i> her words hung in the chill air. They all knew what she meant. Some great force had restored the ruined fortress and there might be unforeseen obstacles that awaited them. <i>“But it is no matter.”</i> She shrugged her shoulders and a wry grin tugged at her lips. <i>“It may have been restored, but there are other ways in then through a crumbled wall or a broken gate.”</i><BR><BR><i>“And I have no doubt that a thief knows many of them.”</i> Radagast replied, reaching into the pocket of his robe and drawing out something cupped in his hand. <i>“You will not be alone.”</i> He said, a gentle smile briefly gracing his worn, but ageless face. He held his hand out to Naveen, nodding in assurance as she raised a questioning brow. <BR><BR>Lifting her hand, she held it forth and was surprised when his fingers opened and a small brown field mouse scurried from Radagast’s palm onto hers. Its tiny nose quivered as it sniffed her palm then sat up on its haunches and looked up at her. Its dark eyes shone with intelligence. <BR><BR><i>“A mouse may enter into places that even the best thief cannot.”</i> Radagast smiled. <i>“He will comprehend your words and make it known to you what he has seen.”</i> <BR><BR><i>“But how?” she asked with skepticism.<BR><BR>“Though he cannot speak, at least so that you will understand, he will make things known to you.”</i> Radagast placed a hand on her arm and nodded solemnly. <i>“Trust in what I tell you.”</i> He did not need to tell her, he could read it in her eyes that she understood what he would not speak aloud. Should Naveen not return there was a chance that the mouse might and they would have knowledge of what had happened.<BR><BR>She could only nod at the wizard’s word of advice. Cupping her hand around the small furry creature, she gently placed him into the pocket of her vest and felt him moved around for a moment before settling down. <BR><BR>Naveen looked at the trio gathered around her. They had placed a heavy responsibility on her and she would do her best to fulfill that duty.<BR><BR><BR><BR>~aka Hunter~
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Postby Barad-dur » Tue Jul 30, 2002 11:35 pm

<BR>“Lossidil?” asked Maglor as he crouched low behind a snow-covered boulder.<BR><BR>“No,” replied K’elekt’il. “No self-respecting elf would be so careless as to make smoke that visible in such unfriendly environs. Probably Men… or worse,” he sneered.<BR><BR>The two had stealthily climbed down from the gorge behind them and had slowly and carefully picked their way across the boulder-strewn plain that led up to the ruined fortress of Mornost in the distance. There was plenty of cover to be had and they had waited until the sun had begun descending behind their backs before moving forward, the bright glare of sunlight upon the snow providing them with an extra advantage should someone be looking out in their direction.<BR><BR>Progress was slow and tedious, but Maglor decided not to complain, as the other was obviously disturbed by something and insisted they take every precaution possible in their approach. Daylight was fast fading behind the mountains to the west by the time they arrived at their destination.<BR><BR>Nestled on a hill of snow at the head of the Cirith-I-Nudevyn, stood the toppled remnants of Mornost, the Dark Fortress, most of the coal-black stones that made up its ruined bulk now buried beneath the pristine white snow. Harkening back to an earlier age, Mornost was a grim reminder of the evil realm that once held this land in a cold, iron grip. Its role all those thousands of years ago had been to guard the eastern approaches to Angband and its outlying forges and armouries at Naur Firnen and Eithel Morgoth. Like most of the region, Mornost had suffered terribly during the upheavals that wracked the north during the War of the Wrath. The great rift of the Cirith-I-Nudevyn had split the land like a great axe-stroke but had stopped miraculously within a few yards of Mornost’s gates. Unfortunately for those still within, the tremors and earthquakes still managed to make short work of the brooding keep and very little remained to this day to mark its existence.<BR><BR>During the summer months when the snow receded somewhat, the stones would occasionally turn up, revealing some forgotten portal or other into this ruined citadel. The ruins were said to be cursed, and the area carried such an evil reputation that even the scattered orc tribes of the Ered Rhívamar tended to avoid the place.<BR><BR>The bright glare of a fire set the shadows to dancing among the ruins as the sun sank lower in the horizon, and the sound of deep voices raised in song carried clearly in the evening air to the two elves concealed a short distance away. The smell of roasting meat assailed their nostrils when the light breeze shifted their way.<BR><BR>“That language…” Maglor’s expression took on a faraway look, “I’ve heard it before.”<BR><BR>“As have I,” his companion whispered back. “Dwarves.”<BR><BR>“Naugrim? Yes, I think you are right, although it has been an eternity since I have last seen one of their kind. What do you suppose they are doing so far north?” the Noldo asked.<BR><BR>“I suggest you don’t refer to them as such henceforth… they are not too proud of the name given to them by your Sindarin cousins. I believe ‘Khazâd’ is a term they are far more fond of,” the other elf answered back. “As for what they are doing here… what is the only thing that can draw a dwarf so far away from his home and into such an inhospitable land?”<BR><BR>“Treasure!” Maglor exclaimed.<BR><BR>“Yes, my friend… treasure… or a dragon’s hoard, to be more precise. I think Uruial is about to get more company now than he’s had in a very long, long time.”<BR><BR><BR>
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Postby Naveen » Fri Aug 02, 2002 12:40 pm

<BR><BR>She stopped, her panting breath visible before her face in the dark. Clinging to the face of the cliff, Naveen rested her cheek against the cold hard stone of the mountainside below Carn Dum.<BR><BR>The night had grown cold, the temperature dropping swiftly after the sun had disappeared below the horizon. Winter still held a grip on the vast and desolate Mountains of Angmar and Naveen doubted that it ever fully relinquished its hold. <BR><BR>Stopping on a narrow ledge partway up the cliff face, she rested for a moment. Her hands and fingers were stiff with cold and she brought them, one by one to her mouth and let her breath warm them. It hadn’t taken very long for Naveen to climb as far as she had. The going had been easy at first, the foot of the mountain sloped gently before rising to meet the cliffs, but this last part had been steeper and she wondered if the others would be able to make the climb, especially Radagast; he looked almost as ancient as the very rock she climbed. But he was a wizard; she reminded herself, and having traveled in the company of one of his kind before she knew that somehow he would be able to make it.<BR><BR><i>‘Not far to go now,’</i> she told herself and looked to her right. Yes, there it was, gleaming darkly in the light of the few stars that had started to shine through the ragged gray clouds overhead.<BR><BR>Above her rose the great outer wall that ringed the restored fortress. Its height seemed to loom higher than her first estimate from afar; <i>‘It must be at least fifty feet high,’</i> she guessed. But that did not concern her, she had not planned to try and scale it. No, she had looked for and spotted something that she had not doubted all such walls had. A feature few thought of in planning an attack, but something she had learned to look for as a thief.<BR><BR>It was an opening along the base through which water was allowed to flow out; this far north it was an essential feature. With the constant build up of ice along the inner base, a wall would soon weaken at its foundation if the ice, as it melted and refroze, had nowhere to go. The rain that had fallen earlier now proved her right. Her only hope now, was that the opening would be large enough to gain entrance through and would not have a grate across it. <BR><BR>Brushing a sweat-slicked tendril of hair from her cheek, she found it stiff and frozen. <i>‘I’d better get moving.’</i><BR><BR>Slowly, she started across, feeling in the darkness for hand and footholds that she locked away in her memory for her return trip down the mountainside.<BR><BR>The rainwater that had washed down and through the arched opening had already frozen in the frigid night air and the rocks gleamed with their new coat of slick, clear ice. Drawing out a slim poniard from her boot, Naveen began to quietly chip out places where she could get a firm footing. Then using the blade as a pick she slowly began to climb. <BR><BR>Luckily the archway was not grated and was steeply slanted so that the water would flow freely and not build up when it froze. It was large enough for Naveen, pressed flat against the bottom to inch up through and would pose no problem for the others. She guessed the outer wall itself to be about ten to twelve feet wide and stopped as she reached the inner opening.<BR><BR>All was eerily quiet. Too quiet for Naveen and her senses went on alert. <BR><BR>The restoration of Carn Dum had been accomplished by means of magic and that thought sped a tingling of apprehension through her nerves. Like many mortals, Naveen could not fully comprehend the use of such power, but she had seen the potent force at work before. While she did not understand it, she was not afraid. <i>‘Not true,’</i> she chided herself. The fear she felt heightened her awareness and presented a challenge…one she felt herself capable of overcoming. Her eyes gleamed brightly in the darkness as she let the rush of excitement and fear wash over her, relishing the sensation and letting it run wild before bringing it under control. This was why she could never think of giving up her life of a thief…<BR><BR>Pulling herself up and pressing her body flat against the wall, she blended into the dark shadows and surveyed her surroundings. <BR><BR>She could make out the darker shapes of various sized buildings scattered in an orderly fashion along the inner bailey. Guessing these to be barracks, storerooms and other buildings that would house the substantial force used in the defense of the fortress, she let her eyes linger on them and listened carefully. <BR><BR>No light shone from any of the windows and nothing made a sound, but this did not mean that there were not guards around. The Witch King probably had bands of orcs and trolls guarding his stronghold and they would have no need of light. As silent as the shifting shadows, Naveen slipped from one building to the next, making her way to a second wall. <BR><BR>Stopping before a fortified defile, she looked into the darkness. It was a passage cut into the rock of the mountain, one that could easily be defended by just a few men. The stone under her feet had been worn smooth by countless feet through the ages as armies had passed to and fro here and she stooped to her knee.<BR><BR><i>‘Now is the time to put to use Radagast’s little friend.’</i><BR><BR>Drawing the tiny mouse from its warm nest in her pocket, she lifted him near her lips and whispered inaudible words close to his tiny ear before lowering him to the ground. She watched him scurry away and waited warily for his return.<BR><BR><BR>
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Postby the mouth of sauron » Sun Aug 04, 2002 7:01 am

In slow procession the captains of Harad led contingents of Calvary, men at arms, archers. Blood red and midnight was the armor they bore. Many had painted faces and wore gold rings in the ears, noes and eyebrows. Every man young and old were proud warriors and all carried the scars of Gondor on their hearts… And they all hated her… <BR><BR>Next came Kylab and his fierce and very loyal kinfolk from the mountains, tall mighty and noble as far as trolls go, their eyes all held the keen intelligence that Kylab’s except not to the same degree. Scattered towards the back of the ranks where many lesser trolls… lumbering brutes. <BR><BR>Coming next where what orcs Barad Dur, Shagrat and Tempest had managed to gather there. However Tempest had done an exemplary job at getting the old forges working and kiting out the orcs she had held to herself and Mordor. They marched now before the Lieutenant of Barad Dur. He smiled and nodded his approval.<BR><BR>Last but not least came line upon line of the rank and file and the bulk of the pride of Khand. Khand’s borders where safe and only a skeleton force remained there, but five of here lords now accompanied thousands of warriors, some on foot, some on horse back. But The Mouth of Sauron’s masterstroke came not in the form of the military power but the civilians that came followed his grand army.<BR><BR>For these civilians were farmers with seed and shovels, carpenters and workmen with their wives and families… Mordor would be transformed with what these hundreds of wanes contained. <BR><BR>This was his grand army, the first army of Mordor… on a large pavilion stood the Mouth of Sauron with Tempest at his right she gloried in the mass of arms gathered before her. He stepped forwards to address the throng of gathered warriors… for many spells had he warped around himself this day and also he carried a portion of the power of the Lady Legrace.<BR><BR>He surveyed the gathered faces and silence descended and he allowed the silent pause to continue for effect. Finally he spoke, and his voice rolled out with the thunder of command, the promise of new beginnings, of farms and homesteads, of crops and families, of kingdoms and power! <BR><BR>He talked of making war with words and swords and peace with envoys and farmers ploughs. To a man, every man woman and child was mesmerized, he could have asked the to throw them selves from a cliff and they would have done so gladly.<BR><BR>Thunderous applause broke out and rallies of chants to his health and the might of Mordor and much more, the time was ripe! Now was the time to strike and to act. <BR><BR>He held up a mailed hand and the roar died down and he motioned for Tempest and another man to come to his side. A tall half elf in resplendent armor that had once belonged to the Mouth of Sauron himself, Many who were gathered there murmured at the sight, but what came next silenced them for a long time even to the point that he thought that he make have missed his mark.<BR><BR><i>“This day you have become a nation! This day you have become a people of power! A nation that shall be feared and respected by all! A nation where everyone has a chance to work the land and forge a kingdom!<BR><BR>And to that end I announce the dawning of a new era and a new power! To my left is one of the nine reborn, from this day forward to be known as the Mouth of Mordor! The captain of Gorgoroth.”</i><BR><BR>Tumultuous applause broke out with much clashing of swords and shields, he remained silent and let Helazzar glory in the praise and the people absorb the pride of feeling that they were apart of something far greater… and that was the key to the this secret… Ownership! Let every man own the dream and the vision, men will always be willing to dies for what they believe in… And that was Sauron great weakness, He could not share or give ownership to anyone or anything, he ruled by fear and not by faith.<BR><BR><i>“And finally here before you today!! Stands the first ever…”</i> His voice rose to a crescendo all were enthralled.<i> “Your new, and first King and Queen of greater Mordor!”</i><BR><BR>The reaction of the people was greater then He or Tempest could ever have hoped for or expected! <BR>
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Postby hamlet » Mon Aug 05, 2002 5:26 pm

Lekret listened dubiously to the Mouth's speach as his troops cheered riotously for the new king of Mordor. They were very pretty words indeed and even Lekret could feel a swell of pride in his breast, and yet the images that lurked in the back of his mind kept him from throwing his lot in immediately with this new lord: the images of slaughter and destruction in the hot lands of Khand and Rhun.<BR><BR>Many thousands had died, not that he cared a great deal about his fellow orcs. What was more important was that he had nearly died. And right now, surrounded by half a million screaming goblins, trolls, and men, Lekret felt his safety swiftly deteriorating. The armies before Barad-Dur ebbed and flowed like a great sea being sloshed violently in its basin.<BR><BR>"You are not king!" His shout was nearly drowned out by the voices of those around him, but a few had heard him and nudged their neighbors into silence. "You are not king! You kill many orcs. That no big deal, everybody kill orcs. But you kill your own army of orcs!" An angry murmur rippled through the masses accompanied by a few shouts. As if suddenly remembering why they had travelled so many leagues west, Lekret's five thousand troops formed up immediately into ranks and set themselves apart from the rest.<BR><BR>Lekret, feeling his confidence increase, spoke again, this time pointing at the figure standing next to Tempest and the huge troll Kylab. "You not king! You are madman and I will not follow you!"<BR><BR>It seemed that the entire assemblage picked up a chant of "Lekret! Lekret!"<BR><BR>**********************************<BR><BR>Help Osram find the few remaining pockets of enemy troops in Udun and he would escort Hamlet safely behind the lines or to any place he desired to go within reason. Simple enough. He very much wanted to find out what had happened that left the gates vulnerable, the gates that had stood for a thousand years unassaulted.<BR><BR>So Hamlet led Osram and most of his troops into the gate-houses and helped search for any elusive pockets of goblins that might still be lurking within. In one of the highest chambers, near the summit of the Mountains of Shadow, they were discovered, a group of only seventy mountain goblins. Small and pathetic creatures, they did not last long against well trained regulars in the Gondorian army. They found no evidence of any other troops or where they might have gone.<BR><BR>"There were only seventy?" The matter was almost as unbelievable to Osram as it was to Hamlet. Never in a millenia had the gates been left unguarded. Legends had been written about the garrison that guarded the dark gates against the west.<BR><BR>"Apparantly."<BR><BR>"I thought that a guard of more than three thousand was maintained here!"<BR><BR>"Apparantly not. It seems that my land as well as yours has fallen onto poor times."<BR><BR>"My orders are to guard this gate, though from what I haven't any clue." Osram paced back and forth in the tent that had become a prison of sorts. "There's nothing here!"<BR><BR>"Then take me to the Morgul Vale."<BR><BR>"What?"<BR><BR>"Our deal, friend Osram." Hamlet looked the man straight in the eye. "I wish to go to the Morgul Vale, and we must be there within two weeks' time."<BR><BR>The captain spent much time vacilating between duty and honour. "But the gate, I have to guard the gate!"<BR><BR>"The Gate? But friend Osram, you have slain the gate guard, pitiful as it was."<BR><BR>"Yes, but if an army of orcs should slip through the gate, it would be disastrous."<BR><BR>"An army of orcs!?" Hamlet sounded truly incredulous. "Listen to yourself! Do you think that I have hidden them away in my pocket! Yes, here they are, shall I produce them for you?" Osram frowned deeply. "There is no army here, captain. There is nothing to guard but two great hulking relics of a past age."<BR><BR>Osram looked terribly sad suddenly. Whether it was the thought that he was set to guard nothing, or that there truly was no army, Hamlet could not tell. "You are set a fools errand by a man who has no business leading an army of good men. Think, captain. If there are no forces here, where must they be? You know they are somewhere, where must they be?"<BR><BR>"They must be south and east of here."<BR><BR>"Yes, and will you sit guarding a broken door against an illusiory threat while your true duty lies elsewhere, captain?"<BR><BR>There was a long pause before Osram replied. "I wish you would not call me that." Heaving a great sigh, he turned his back upon Hamlet. "Very well. I will leave this post and go south, but I will send a rider with news for captain Otakar. I will tell him that I have a prisoner and have reason to believe that we are decoyed here."
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Postby the mouth of sauron » Tue Aug 06, 2002 3:11 am

The filthy little orc pointed at him…”"You not king! You are madman and I will not follow you!" as his body of 5000 troops separated form the core. And a chorus arose as if out of know where, a chant if you will of "Lekret! Lekret!"<BR><BR>The Mouth of Mordor took an ominous step forward, Tempest hissed under her breath and Kylab growled…<BR><BR>But not Urzahil first king of Mordor, inwardly he was smiling, however outwardly his visage was that of a man dying of a broken heart. His eyes visible hollowed and his face seemed to age before their eyes.<BR><BR> Bringing the would be trouble makers name to mind the king walked to the edge of the palladium… many powerful spells were in effect as the first words rolled sweetly and sadly off his tongue… By his greatest weapon Urzahil and won over or conquered nations for Sauron, now he let it lose on 5000 and one orcs…<BR><BR><BR>The first words hardly crept out, so much so that Lekret and his men felt it necessary to stride forward to better hear this wounded king of men. “O’great master Lekret… why do you wound me so? I beg your forgiveness… Yes one very dark night many orcs died, and it grieved me. For it was a tragic mistake, did not come to deliver death to your brave kinfolk! Far be it from me to do such a thing…” And his countenance grew to that of a grieved man. If Saruman had of witnessed it he would have be proud of this mortal man, and in fact Tempest seen much of Saruman in her new king.<BR><BR>“No not at all, in fact I came looking for you… for your fame and courage had reached my ears and I had a great reward for you… yet in the darkness of that night my intentions were sadly misunderstood. And men and orcs perished needlessly, and I was grieved and I tried to make amends but you had withdrawn…”<BR><BR>Now came the masterstroke… “So Lord Lekret my reward still stand, I wish to if your mighty troops will aid Mordor to confer on you your own Kingdom!”<BR><BR>At first a murmur broke out among the assembled forces then a great cheer among Lekret’s own troops and Urzahil smiled… “What say you, might among all orcs?” He knew now the orcs choices… decline and face a rebellion in his on ranks or death and civil war at the hands of the other troops gathered there… Or accept the offer and gain real prestige and power, the likes of which no Mordorian orc had ever held… they all waited for the reply. <BR>
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Postby hamlet » Wed Aug 07, 2002 6:31 pm

<i>Lord</i> Lekret? He had infrequently been called anything but slave or scum, and never something the likes of "Lord." Urzahil's words dripped with the sweet taste of elves' blood, but it carried the same faint smell of treachery the clung to the eldar. Old orcish proverb said that any bait came with a hook.<BR><BR>But it was such lovely bait! He looked around and saw that everyone else in the vicinity thought so as well.<BR><BR>"A nation for orcs?" he queried cautiously.<BR><BR>Urzahil's smile broadened until it seemed that his head split in two. "No, Lekret. A nation for you. Will you join me? Will you join <i>us</i>, Lekret?"<BR><BR>The orc felt the hook slide through his lip and catch him securely and viciously. "Yes, Lord Urzahil."<BR><BR>***************************************<BR><BR>"What have you done to me?" Finding himself on a vast and featurless plain, Hamlet could do little but scream in impotent rage. He could see in the distance a range of mountains that ringed the flat land upon which he stood, and yet when he walked toward them, they drew no closer. "Where are you!?" Even the sound of his voice seemed swallowed up in this place.<BR><BR>"Why, Hamlet, do you not know?"<BR><BR>"Show yourself!"<BR><BR>Before him, the air shimmered and the image of Suaron the ring forger appeared. As before, his hands and face were scorched, and he looked undefined, as if he could not decide whether to be there or not.<BR><BR>"Where have you taken me? What have you done?"<BR><BR>"I have taken your service, Hamlet. You offered it freely."<BR><BR>"And so you have enslaved my body, imprisoned my mind in this wastland, and set me to watch? What torture is this?"<BR><BR>The figure before him chuckled merrily. "Torture? Hardly, my friend. You should know better."<BR><BR>"Then give me back control of my body. I can do little to serve you like this. I want my body back!"<BR><BR>"And I want the Ring!" The creature's rage swept over him in great waves of scorching heat. "It's mine by right and that great pretender has taken it!" Seeming to master himself, the being that looked like Sauron, for Hamlet no longer believed that this was his old master, held out a conciliatory hand. "But I am a merciful master. You will have your body."<BR><BR>The landscape around him disolved and was replaced by the equally hellish landscape of Mordor. The image of Sauron was gone, and Hamlet was alone. But in his ear, Hamlet heard a whisper, "I will be here. I will be watching."
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Postby Naveen » Tue Aug 13, 2002 12:03 pm

<BR><BR><BR>The second wall ringing the inner fortress rose higher than the first wall that Naveen had slipped under. Built upon the shoulders of the mountain, it followed its contours, rising and dipping with each fold in the rocky terrain. The passage where the thief lay in wait for the mouse to return was fortified along it upper reaches with intricate crenelations of stonework. The hand-hewn walls were cut smooth and polished, with nary a hand hold to be found rising to a height of twenty feet above the worn causeway. A portcullis made of oaken timbers two hands breadth thick and reinforced with metal bands at their joints barricaded the inner entrance. <BR> <BR>Darkness surrounded her, thick and palpable in the chill night air and Naveen could feel the coldness seeping into her back as she leaned against the smooth rock. She held her breath. Something was moving at the opposite end.<BR><BR>The sound of well-oiled chains clanking then pulled taunt and straining against a heavy weight met her ears and she realized that someone was working the mechanism at the other end raising the portcullis. The creaking stopped and she stood listening, sword drawn.<BR><BR>A dry, rasping noise like that of dead branches rubbing against each other in the wind echoed off the narrow walls. Shambling footsteps entered the passage and a breeze carried a whiff of corruption toward her. Naveen knew then that it was one of the walking dead that had raised the gate. Pressing herself flatter against the wall, she waited in the darkness. Could it sense her? <BR><BR>The thing stopped and sniffed the air, then was joined by another. The two beings that had once been living, breathing men stood still near the open end of the passage looking down its length with hollow, empty eyes. Rusted armor, long unused, grated, breaking the silence as they moved on. Naveen slowly let out her held breath and dared a few steps further in. <BR><BR>Any light from the scattered stars overhead was lost as she stepped into the passage. Darkness closed in around her as step, by cautious step she walked the thirty or so feet through the passage. Stopping at the other end, she waited, almost jumping out of her skin when she felt the first light touch of the mouse on her booted foot.<BR><BR>She knelt, putting her hand down and rose as she lifted the mouse closer to her face. <BR><BR><i>“Is the inner bailey well guarded?”</i> she asked in the barest whisper.<BR><BR>The mouse shook its head then began to lightly stroke each of her outstretched fingers with the tip of its tail. “By the flame…” The mouse stiffened, giving her the barest warning before a blade slashed through the air where her neck had been, striking the wall behind her.<BR><BR>Tucking her head and shoulder, she rolled out of reach. Springing to her feet, Naveen turned to face her foe, her sword in one hand and a blade from her boot in the other. <BR><BR>One of the undead faced her. He raised his heavy sword in a two handed grip and advanced on her, slicing through the air in long arcs with slow deliberation, a morbid grin affixed to his decaying face. Backwards the thief stepped, casting quick glances to each side. Two more had shambled out of a concealed sally port and stood abreast of the first, encircling her and forcing her back toward the inner wall. <BR><BR>Naveen had never professed to be a great warrior, and had often gone to great lengths to avoid armed combat. Instead she relied on her wits and quickness, but through their years together, she had learned the art of swordsmanship from Helazzar. Many times he had told her, ‘know thy enemy.’<BR><BR>She quickly assessed them; their movements were stiff and jerky from tendons and sinews grown rigid with death and had they been living, breathing men, Naveen would have been in real trouble. But they had long been dead and she used this to her advantage. She attacked with a flurry of her sword, not looking to maim, but hoping for an opening…<BR><BR>And one presented itself…the undead to her right raised his sword and she pivoted swiftly around him. Slashing low across the unguarded back of his legs, she heard stiff tendons pop and dry bones give way as he fell forward into the path of the descending sword of the center one. <BR><BR>Now she faced only two of them and her instincts took over. She moved in the dark like a wraith, with rapid fluid movements and the sentience of the living. Her blades met corrupt flesh and bone many times before the last undead soldier lay in an unmoving pile on the cold hard stone at her feet. <BR><BR>A vapor of breath wreathed her head as she bent forward to catch her breath and listen, the sound of fighting may have attracted others. There was only silence in the surrounding gloom of the courtyard and it was broken by the sound of tiny scurrying feet as the mouse darted from its hiding place.<BR><BR>Letting him climb once more into her hand, she tucked him in her pocket. <i>‘Enough exploring for this night’</i> she told herself, <i>‘it is time to return. The mouse can relate to Radagast what it has seen.’</i> <BR><BR><BR><BR><BR><BR><BR> <BR>
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Postby the mouth of sauron » Thu Aug 15, 2002 9:46 pm

The massive throng of human, Orc and troll warriors broke into tremendous roars, cheers, hoots, and howls. And for Urzahil it was the air that he breathed, the fuel that feed his hire, it was what pumped through his veins! <BR><BR>King Urzahil let this gone for quite some time… It was good for the troops and good for moral… Things could not have come together better, he did not care if the commotion carried all the way to the Blessed Ream its self. Finally he held up his hands for silence and he got it, even though it was along time coming.<BR><BR>Urzahil stepped forwards again and his eyes swept the masses, he was the master and he was in his element he held all of them, right to the last, right in the palms of his hands.<BR><BR>“Mighty warriors, defenders of greater Mordor and those gathered here to share in the labor and rewards of making us a mighty nation and a might power once again. This day sees the dawn of a new era, one where our words and the fruit of our lands will lead the way, and will cause us to prosper… And where by might of arms as a last resort we will crush our oppressors! And to that end I name grant Kylab and his decedents forever, the lordship of the southern most mountain range that boarders Harad to Khand.”<BR><BR>With that might shouts went up again of “Long live the King!” Hours later in his camp King Urzahil called a meeting to discuss their next movie… Gathered there were the five lords of Khand, Helazzar/ the mouth of Mordor, the lord Lekret, Lord Kylab and the King and Queen of Mordor.<BR>
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Postby Sauron's_Nagging_Wife » Sun Aug 18, 2002 7:09 pm

<BR><BR>The night’s dreams had yielded none of the contact to which Legrace had left herself open. No that it surprised her, for the final communication had used the last of his power: thus he would not transmit words or images to any creature ever again. Instead, a mere feeling, a presence, was all that remained, but she could not perceive anything. Was she too far from the Tower? If she moved closer, perhaps she would be able to feel it, feel him.<BR><BR>Of course, the ridiculous thoughts that the Lieutenant of the Tower was broadcasting to her served to both amuse and irritate her to varying degrees. How gauche! How vulgar and crass to be addressing as “Lord” those who had no claim to the title! “King and Queen of Mordor, indeed,” she murmured aloud with a little chuckle and a yawn, snuggling down more comfortably among the covers. People wanting to rule had always puzzled her, and someone wanting to rule Mordor was a total mystery. <BR><BR>Not much of the little sliver of power that she had shared with him could be left, for he had used more than she remembered giving. Since it had been meant both to protect his identity from the Elf-lord’s keen perception and to communicate with her without words, he must have realized that every time he used it, she could hear all. The gross misuse of her generosity was a slight annoyance, and she considered stripping him of the little that remained; however such an action would take more energy than she was willing to expend at the moment. In addition, she was curious to see how long the ever-dwindling power would last. So far beyond its original purpose had the trifle stretched, the thought recurred that she may have misjudged her own ability. <BR><BR>This thought passed out of her mind, though, when she felt Elrohir toss his arm over her and hold her close. A long time had it been since she had felt so content.<BR>
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Postby Elemmire » Sun Aug 18, 2002 8:05 pm

Their eyes were held impossibly wide, sitting in shocked silence around the evening fire now that the newsbringer was gone. Outside, the world thickened to the pitch black of uninhabited night. Inside, which was usually stuffy with the smudged air, had become a haven from the shadows that crept and danced in their simple minds.<BR><BR>"Papa, will the orcs come here too?" Rothwyn asked, folding her small knees under her chin. She was twirling one of her thin, straw-blond braids through her fingers, over and over, back and forth.<BR><BR>Feldwine, a poor farmer of Rohan, sat with his fingers laced over his mouth, thinking as best he could. That there were orcs in Rohan was not within his experience, and therefore difficult for him to comprehend. That they had burned and massacred was not something that his mind could find any hold on. He had no answer for his daughter.<BR><BR>"They'll come in the night and..." Derund, Rothwyn's older brother, suddenly jumped toward her with his thin fingers bent like claws: "GAAAHHHHHH!!!"<BR><BR>"Papa! Make him stop!" she screamed, clutching at Feldwine's arm.<BR><BR>"Derund... this is no joke."<BR><BR>"I know," he answered sullenly. He elbowed their brother Farald, the oldest of the three: "Did you see her jump!"<BR><BR>"Derund!"<BR><BR>"Sorry," he mumbled.<BR><BR>Farald didn't deign to answer acknowledge his brother in any way. After all, he was nearly two years older than Derund, and almost a man. Almost a man. He thought about that, staring into the dying fire, and about the orcs, and old stories, and many other things that he couldn't put his finger on.<BR><BR>"Papa, are the orcs going to come here?" Rothwyn asked again, her little hands twirling her little braids again. "You won't let them, will you?"<BR><BR><BR>
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Postby Elemmire » Tue Aug 20, 2002 6:26 pm

Derund couldn't fall asleep that night because of excitement; Farald couldn't because of Derund.<BR><BR>"Do you think it was really orcs?" Derund's whisper pierced the darkness. The fire had burned itself down to shimmering orange embers that danced within their bounds.<BR><BR>"What else would it be?" Farald retorted. They kept their voices down out of life-long habit: their house had only two rooms, and one was for storage. The one that they lived in was small--not more than four paces wide and five long. This meant that, by listening hard, Farald could tell that all four family members were still awake.<BR><BR>"Do you believe in orcs?" Derund asked persistantly.<BR><BR>"I suppose. Do you?" Farald turned on his cot to face his brother, making the straw ticking crunch underneath him.<BR><BR>"No," Derund said after a minute's thought.<BR><BR>"Why not?"<BR><BR>"Well, I haven't heard of any orc that did anything good. But there are good people and bad people. Even good horses and bad horses, sometimes."<BR><BR>"Why do there have to be good orcs?" Farald asked.<BR><BR>"I don't think that orcs could be all bad and still be real."<BR><BR>"Does that mean that you don't believe in elves?" Farald countered, sure that he had found a weakness in Derund's argument.<BR><BR>"No! Why shouldn't I believe in them? Gondor's queen was one, you know, and as soon as Elessar died--POOF! She left. Didn't care a bit for her children or her country, if you ask me! I wouldn't count on the witches for anything especially good."<BR><BR>"Boys, if you can't sleep at least be quiet so that I can," their father said wearily from the opposite end of the room.<BR><BR>"Elves, at least, are <i>more</i> believable than orcs, which are only--"<BR><BR>"Derund, be quiet."<BR><BR>"Yes, Papa," Derund acquiesced. He leaned close towards Farald: "I want to talk to you in the morning. I 've got an idea that might--"<BR><BR>"Derund!"<BR><BR>"Sorry." Derund nestled more comfortably into the dip in his thin mattress. "I want to talk to you about something in the morning," he repeated in the barest whisper.<BR><BR>Farald didn't answer, but turned over to look at the stars peeking their way through a hole in the roof that served as their chimney. The night was clear, and the comfortable sounds of miles of grass and wind lay calm over the night.
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Postby Belegûr » Fri Aug 23, 2002 2:14 am

As dawn slowly spread over the sullen skies of Mordor, Akhôrahil reflected again on what had passed between the Ravener and him the previous evening. Knowingly or not, she had revealed much about herself (or at least about her personality), and from what he had learned, she was not to be trusted in any way. His original plan had been to take her with him, knowing that someone of her kind could be a valuable ally. Now, though, he had to find a different use for her... She sought information; information about the situation in Mordor. Information on who ruled and who served. He could not be sure, but his guess was that she had been of high standing among the servants of the Dark Lord. This of course meant nothing now, except as a testimony to her capabilities, and normally it would have only made him more eager to enlist her aid. However, as things were turning out, he saw an alternative way to make use of her former rank. If only he could play to her ambitions and agendas in the right way, she might perform the task he had in mind most admirably. Too bad she could not work for him directly...but there was something in him, or something in her demeanour, that warned him not to involve himself in any way with this elf. Hers was the air of a predator toying with her favourite prey. It made him uncomfortable. He was confident in his ability to handle her –but to control her? He doubted it. No; it would be better this way...<BR><BR>Images shown to him by the Stone earlier were still carved into his mind. Images of the Mouth of Sauron –“Lord Urzahil”-proudly proclaiming himself King of Mordor, the woman Tempest and the accursed murderer Helazzar beside him. <BR><BR><i>So, my friend....this was what you were planning all the time. How foolish of me to be so blind as to not see – and how foolish of you to hide this from me!” </i> Akhôrahil’s hands clenched into fists as his irritation rose <i>So be it then. You would seek to rule without me, without my consent or collaboration, and that you shall indeed. May time show you the wisdom or folly of your choice!</i>. He had given this a chance, he really had. But again he had been let down. Foremost in his mind was the image of the half-elf assassin. “One day”, he vowed silently “I will come to collect the debt you owe me...”<BR><BR>Mentally he prepared for a last confrontation with Naiore. If information was what she wanted, then information she would get. Yes...she could still prove useful... <BR>
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Postby Elemmire » Fri Sep 06, 2002 6:05 pm

The water barrel was low again. This meant that Farald and Derund were up before the sky was fully light (though this was the case every morning), hauling water from the stream at the bottom of the hill that their house was built on.<BR><BR>It took twelve bucketfuls to fill the barrel, or fourteen if they poured out the stale water, which they usually did. <BR><BR>"Pick a straw," Farald said, holding out a hand with two straws towards Derund, "unless you want to haul the extra load." With two yokes to carry four buckets, one of them always had to go back for the two bucketfuls that would top off the barrel. <BR><BR>This was not a much-favored job: Derund's scowl was obvious when he drew the short straw.<BR><BR>Wordlessly they poured the old water along the rows of winter vegetables growing on the sheltered south side of the house, put the barrel back in its place just inside the door, and picked up their buckets. Their shoulders supported the worn wood of the yokes with a familiar ease, and an empty stomach was only another empty stomach.<BR><BR>The land was still grey and chill for their first trip to the stream, and not at all inspiring for anything except quiet. While dipping the buckets for the second time, though, the two were treated to an especially red sunrise cutting through the mist that settled every night into the rolling hills.<BR><BR>"Do you think the sun rises like this in Mordor?" Derund asked, tasting the foreign word with a nervous thrill through the pit of his stomach.<BR><BR>"I don't know," Farald said, straightening slowly under the load. "I would guess it rises the same there as anywhere else." He started the long trudge up the hill.<BR><BR>"Does grass grow in Mordor?" Again, there was a certain delight when Derund said that name, the same as is found in breaking some small rule and getting away with it. "Are there horses?"<BR><BR>"Why are you asking me?" Farald cut him off shortly.<BR><BR>"I thought you might know," Derund explained, "because you know all the old stories."<BR><BR>"None of them happened like they say, though."<BR><BR>"How do you know?!" Derund exclaimed indignantly.<BR><BR>Farald set down his buckets: they had reached the house again. "I know because the stories are impossible. Like the one about King Eomer, before he was king: they say that he led less than an eored against a thousand orcs, against King Theoden's wishes. They fought for less than a night, killed every orc, and didn't lose a single man or horse themselves." Despite his skeptical tone, Farald almost regreted not letting himself believe the stories. Muted water splashed in the barrel from each of his buckets.<BR><BR>"Still, <i>some</i> of it has to be true," Derund insisted. "And Eomer did fight in the great War! Do you think <i>our</i> orcs<BR>came from Mordor?" he asked without any apparent transition.<BR><BR>"No, they're probably from the mountains."<BR><BR>"Eomer and Elessar cleared out every orc-hold north and south of the Gap and anywhere in Gondor." They were at the stream for the third time.<BR><BR>"What does it matter to us if the orcs are from the north, south, or east?" Farald began dipping his buckets in the water.<BR><BR>"If they are from the east, from Mordor," Derund couldn't resist saying the name again, "then a muster might be called. We are both old enough to be--"<BR><BR>"<i>I</i> am old enough to be called--you aren't," Farald corrected with a frown. They started up the hill again.<BR><BR>"That doesn't matter," Derund insisted. "If Mordor is already organized enough to begin attacking, there won't be time for a muster!"<BR><BR>"You are assuming too much," Farald said, dismissing his brother's exitement. "And I thought you didn't believe in orcs," he added.<BR><BR>Derund ignored that. "You know," he said to play on Farald's own thoughts: "sometimes a small group of people, <i>two</i> people even, can do better than an army:<BR><BR><i>Over mountain, under mountain they went:<BR>No branch was stirred, no blade of grass was bent.<BR>Far from home they wandered, and all alone<BR>Against all chance toppled the dark lord's throne.</i>"<BR><BR>"That is the worst translation I have ever heard of that song," Farald laughed, seeing nonetheless that his brother had something in mind.<BR><BR>"What if," --Derund was very excited now-- "what if <i>we</i> were the ones to find out why the orcs attacked! We'd be heroes! We might even be invited to Edoras, to sit at the right hand of the King!"<BR><BR>Farald couldn't deny that this idea appealled to him considerably. "What woud we need to do?" he asked. They reached the house for the third time and set down their buckets.<BR><BR>"We could just go to Mordor, spy around, and see if anything is there. Then we come back to tell King Folcwine what is happening."<BR><BR>"When would we go?" Farald asked, losing more of his doubt with each word and seeing Edoras clearer in his mind than ever before.<BR><BR>"Very soon," Derund said, pouring his buckets into the barrel.<BR><BR>The thought crossed Farald's mind that if they did not go soon, they would never go at all. He made a quick decision: "Derund, we are going tonight."
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Postby Naiore » Mon Sep 09, 2002 12:16 am

<BR>Light grew reluctantly in the sky, and dawn found Naiore alert and well pleased. Her fingers raced through the seventh of her eight braids, weaving rapidly the hair into the plaiting around which she snapped the metal binds into place at regular intervals. The elf woman sat at her seeming ease, silent admidst the camp of men that stirred with the morning's advance. A pensive smile curved her lips as she watched the activity around her. The seventh braid fell back over her shoulder and she commenced on the eighth with economical grace and efficency, her fingers moving through a familiar ritual.It would not be long, she deemed, before Akhôrahil once more sought her out. The Ravener was putting what time she had to herself to good use. A carefully leashed appetite drew her gaze to the men that walked about her. Few met her gaze; Akhôrahil had instructed them well.<BR><BR>But knowing that did not make her hunger any less sharp. Her frustration that had built since her departure from Harad had been stirred further by the loss of her gear to Helazzar. It had coalesced into a palpable rage, cold and formidible, that could be assuaged by one thing along. A mortal sister would have taken a man last night and broken him to find peace for herself. Had one of men even met her gaze, Naiore too would have. But to a man they refused to. Only that which she had learnt from Akhôrahil had offered satisfaction. Hints that suggested much opportunity to be had in Mordor. Hints that offered considerable leverage to one such as her, for in opportunity lay for Naiore power. There was now, as there had been before, fractures in the power structure of Mordor. Helazzar had not followed her to this camp of men. He instead went elsewhere, and in that Naiore read much.<BR><BR>The eighth braid was soon finished and added to the others that fell now in smooth array down her spine. Where had the half-elf and his assassin disappeared to, with her weapons and gear? Not here, and his assassin was Blood Crow. No, there was more than one psuedo power base in Mordor, and that offered Naiore rich pickings to secure her own place within the dark realm. Naiore rose to her feet in a sinuous movement, stretching her long limbs and taking in the movement of the sky. There was a scent of anticipation hanging over the camp. A man, tall noted her movement and their gazes met in a flash. She smiled then, and he frowned uncertainly, face growing hard. Wariness, she sensed, rising concern within him. It tasted good. Her gaze remained heavily upon him, glittering in the reluctant morning light. Her smile became predatory, and then came to her the delicious sense of alarm and violence that she hungered for. If he thought he would repel her with threat, he had very little lore of Raveners.<BR><BR>Like a wolf that had scented fear, Naiore's senses focussed in on the man that had turned away. He radiated threat now, and beneath that fear. He would resist, and long too... a good target indeed and how long she had waited. He was worthy. It was a shame she had not her garrotte, but a single dagger was more than enough if you held the soul of a man in your hands. Excitement coloured her cheeks a delicate rose as she stepped towards his back. Another step, foot fall silent on the stones, elven light. She could all but taste him and once she had him, Akhôrahil would not want him back. He would be hers utterly. Another step and another, and he tried not to increase his pace, pride battling with survival instincts. She laughed then, liquid silver admist the roughness of men's voices. Another flash of fear that she revelled in. Her breathing had quickened, and he was getting close to a knot of his companions. He would never make it before he was claimed by the Order of the Raveners. It was an honour to be taken by an 8-braider, and he would come to know why that was.<BR><BR>The hand that gripped her forearm brought a deep moan of rage from Naiore as she levelled a gaze the promised death to bear upon the owner's hand. Akhôrahil's face, forbidding and grim, swung into sight and she bit the words off before they crossed her lips. With startling speed, Naiore checked herself. The wail of frustration curled through her. Her face fell into it's customary serenity, and her chin lifted. But the flushing of her cheeks and the vibrancy of her gaze took longer to fade.<BR><BR><i>You expect no less from one such as I, Akhôrahil. Do not insult us both with any claim otherwise. Only a fool would expect a Ravener too long denied to sit calmly in a camp filled with prey, especially forbidden prey that wanders too close.</i><BR><BR>Her prey gained the uncertain safety of his companions and Naiore sighed lightly in sorrow. She returned her attention to Akhôrahil, discipline forcing her away now from the hunt and onto the issues at hand. The lord released her arm, and she considered him for a moment before she smiled once more. New game, or rather the continuation of that which he had brought to a temporary close in the small hours of the morning. He was uneasy now, and an abiding anger flickered dangerously. Perilious was this one, interesting. Worth watching, and obviously worth humouring as she had forgone sating her hunger. Did he consider the seeming arrogance she had shown in daring to hunt one of his own? Or had something else stirred his wrath to life?<BR><BR><i>You spoke of information, Akhôrahil, in return for a price, in the depths of the night past.<BR><BR>What manner of payment, for what information? What do you know of that a Ravener would pay for? What manner of currency would you have of me?</i><BR><BR>Naiore maintained her curious gaze upon Akhôrahil. In nominating his price would she also learn much, perhaps knowledge of more value then that she had told him she sought of Mordor's current state of affairs.<BR><BR><BR>
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Postby Naveen » Tue Sep 10, 2002 11:03 pm

<BR><BR><BR>The small gray mouse turned around twice in the pocket of Naveen’s vest before settling down and curling itself into a tiny ball. He closed his round dark eyes and became drowsy, the warmth returning to his body as he snuggled closer. <BR><BR>He had not liked the feel of the fortress; the coldness seeping into his tiny paws as he had scurried across the second bailey and the lingering sense that somehow, something was watching him. The feeling had become almost palpable when he had reached a dark and forbidding tunnel and he almost turned back. But his love and loyalty to the gentle Radagast had spurred him on for a short distance. Then he stopped and rose up on his haunches, his nose sniffing the air and his senses alert. An unexplainable fear gripped his heart; the same kind of fear as when he sensed a fox about to spring on him from the brush, but this was magnified a hundredfold. He turned and ran back. <BR><BR>His heart stopped racing once he had climbed back onto the palm of the woman who had carried him here and he felt the relative safety of contact with her. <BR><BR>That safety was shattered by a sudden jar as he was tumbled forward. <BR><BR>There had been no warning, no sound or sense of danger as Naveen made her way back the way she had come through the fortress. She reached the outer wall and was searching in the dark for the low archway that sloped to the cliff side when something struck her from behind. The blow across her upper back sent her headlong into the rough stone of the wall. Flinging her hands up, she hit the wall cushioning her impact slightly. But still the side of her head struck hard and it felt as if her head cracked the stone. <BR><BR>A low moan escaped her from deep in her throat and darkness, sparked with pinpricks of light, swirled behind her eyes. She tried… and failed to make her arms move to draw her sword. Fighting against the blackness that was closing in around her, she slumped forward. Feeling movement in her pocket, Naveen managed to whisper hoarsely, <i>“Go…”</i> before all went black.<BR><BR><BR>
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Postby Finrod_the_Faithful » Sun Sep 15, 2002 12:35 pm

The aurochs had trampled all before them, even in the low light of the overcast late afternoon. Thebin and Elladan rode slowly with Rob and did not speak. The stampede had destroyed everything in its wake and had torn up great clods of turf for almost as far as they could see in every direction in the fine dust mixed with frost kicked up by the dry, cold wind, for already, the day was coming to an end. The Dead were dispersed everywhere now, and the men were still regrouping in order to get a better idea where the biggest pockets were located in relation to the main body.<BR><BR>“Have you any idea what damage they wreaked on the enemy?” Elladan finally asked.<BR><BR>“The scouts have not yet reported back, but it must be a thousand at the very least.” He stared expressionlessly down at the crushed, trampled remains of an auroch. Had it been too weak? Too old and tired? Too young and separated from its mother? “And we have gained another day, perhaps.” Turning his head, then, to glance at Elladan, the general saw that the Elf Lord’s attention had been caught by something off to the west of their current position. Thebin followed his line of vision, but there was nothing, or at least nothing that he could see. “What is it?”<BR><BR>“A small figure on yon boulder. A hobbit, I believe.” Already, they were urging their mounts into a gallop. As they neared the site, a small figure clad in a green coat could be seen atop the boulder. Soon, Thebin was able to identify Farly’s curly blonde mop of hair.<BR><BR>When he heard their approach, Farly turned slightly to glance over his shoulder without releasing his grip on the rock. Upon recognizing them, he called out hoarsely and turned to face them, sitting, now atop the boulder.<BR><BR>“Jonaas!” he called to them, but the rest was carried away on the wind. <BR><BR>“Farly!” Rob shouted to his friend as he trailed the bigger horses. <BR><BR>Elladan, being the tallest, stood up in his stirrups and offered the shocked hobbit a hand down. Quickly, Farly grabbed the hand and scrambled down off the boulder and onto the saddle in front of the elf. “How glad I am to see you safe,” Rob called as he finally caught up. <BR><BR>“Reunions shall have to wait,” Thebin remarked as he scanned the horizon with a frown. “We know not where our danger lies, let us return now and see if there is any concrete information about the enemy’s positions before we go further away from camp.”
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Postby hamlet » Mon Sep 16, 2002 10:27 am

At it's height, Mordor was a terrible place. A vast mechanization and mobilization of Sauron's lust for control and power, the entire land amounted to no more than a vast war-machine, dedicated to the service of one being at the expense of all others. Now, seemingly abandoned, it was not only terrible, but terrifying. Among broken slabs of stone and miresome pits, an occasional thorn bush or creeper vine scratched a living from the cursed soil, but for the most part, the only signs of life upon the plain were bleached skeletons of birds, small beasts, and much worse.<BR><BR>Riding near the head of a column of 300 men, Hamlet wondered briefly what had possesed him to return. Osram was right and, he hated to admit it, Camgalen had been right in his own way. There was nothing here, at least not for Hamlet. It had been greed, or perhaps foolish nostalgia that compelled him to leave his haven in the north and seek out the death and pain of his former life. He knew that the glory of it, of standing in the presence of the Dark Lord a knowing you were favored above others, of standing at the last defence of the Black Gates even after your forces had broken and fled all around you, was gone and would be no more. There was not a one who could replace Sauron, not even this sometimes flitting, sometimes crushing presence that had invaded his mind.<BR><BR>Hamlet did not know its name, but its intent was clear: to possess the Ring, or what was left of it. Perhaps some hateful spirit once bound to the service of the One, it whispered and fluttered in the back of his mind so that he thought if he turned fast enough, he would catch a glimpse of it. When Hamlet tried, he was rewarded only with a taunting chuckle that he was bound by an extracted oath to serve.<BR><BR>Most absurd of all, Hamlet found himself leading an armed force of Gondorian soldiers south through the Udun and eventualy to the Morgul Vale. And they were garunteeing his safe passage through his own land! Whenever Osram questioned him about the reason for their journey, Hamlet was forced to give cryptic replies, assure him that all would be made clear in good time. The only one on this journey that knew what was going on was the invading spirit, and it didn't seemed disposed to speak.<BR><BR>********************************************<BR><BR>For the first time in a very long time, things were going Lekret's way. From foot-soldier to an Orcish lord, if things kept going this well for him, he would be a god before the year was out.<BR><BR>The new king had sent a ceremonial blade and banner to Lekret, both bearing the heraldric device common to the orcish lords of millenia ago. It had been many ages of the sun and stars since an orc had been ranked this high, and Lekret made sure that everyone around him knew it.<BR><BR>At this moment, he stood in an ante-chamber of the Black Tower, having been summoned to the King's presence, staring at a tapestry map on the wall. "Yes, the northern mountains would do nicely. Plenty of room to grow there." More than anything now, he dreamed of raising a tower to himself. A tall and imposing spire that would rival even Barad-Dur in height, but would stand as complementary. Beneath its foundations, a great subteranean city of thousands -- no, millions of orcs and goblins. The only problem, he didn't know what to call his future realm.
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Postby Finrod_the_Faithful » Wed Sep 25, 2002 11:25 am

In the ever-increasing darkness, Elladan pulled up and the others did the same before looking at him for an explanation. His murmured curse did nothing to ease their worries. “What do you see?” Thebin urged over the sound of the wind.<BR><BR>“We cannot get back to camp. We are cut off,” he explained quickly. “Slow though they may be, the dead continue the march despite weather and nightfall.”<BR><BR>Now, it was the general’s turn to curse. Rob and Farly shared a look, then looked up at Elladan and Thebin. “Sir, can’t we… break through their lines?” asked Rob. “It’s no secret that they’re not quick. Three horses should be able to fight through.”<BR><BR>“Three <i>horses</i>?” asked Thebin with a little laugh.<BR><BR>“Well, one pony, then,” Rob amended.<BR><BR>“If we don’t decide soon, we shall soon be surrounded,” said Elladan, and his eyes met and held Thebin’s gaze. <BR><BR>A moment passed, and Thebin sighed. “We might skirt to the south and avoid their lines there.”<BR><BR>“Not a good idea in the dark which does not affect the enemy,” said Elladan. “And we know not how far south they have moved.”<BR><BR>Scratching his grizzled beard, Thebin considered the options. “Very well. It seems that our best hope lies this way. Have Rob ride in the middle. I shall take the left.”<BR><BR>“Hold on to Caran’s mane, Farly,” Elladan instructed as he drew his ancient blade. “You must not fall off.”<BR><BR>“Don’t worry, I won’t,” the hobbit assured him.<BR><BR>Rob drew his short sword. Really, it was a knife, but he looked levelly at the others and there was no doubt in his eyes. “I am ready.”<BR><BR>“When I give the command, have your pony gallop as fast as he can run,” Thebin told him. “We will keep pace with you. And remember, both of you, hit them with the <i>flat</i> of the blade.”<BR><BR>“Yes, of course.” <BR><BR>They started at an easy lope. At first, Elladan was the only one that could see the ranks of the ever moving, ever-shuffling undead warriors. Soon enough, however, the humanoid silhouettes because visible in the murky twilight. The lines were straighter and more organized than they had expected, and there were <i>so</i> many of them. Closer they drew, and then Thebin shouted, “Now! Full gallop!” <BR><BR>Rob’s pony leapt forward as his master spurred him and stretched his neck as he ran flat out towards the enemy’s lines. The three riders brandished swords aloft, and the massive warhorses kept even with the smaller mount. Heedless of their own danger, the undead began to shift towards the riders. Elladan hoped that many of them would be trampled under the hooves, then prepared to meet the first line of dead. <BR><BR>In a blur of motion, it seemed that several disappeared under the horse as a great sweep of his sword sent three flying into the air. Well-trained and experienced, Caran continued forward despite white-eyed fear and some horrible screaming from behind them. Elladan could only hope that the others were faring as well. <BR><BR>Suddenly, they were through. Wheeling around once they were completely clear and a safe distance, Elladan saw Thebin close behind; however, the horrible high-pitched whinnying of Rob’s pony, which seemed almost to be screaming, came to an abrupt end.<BR><BR>“Rob!” shouted Elladan, starting back, and Farly wailed aloud. <BR><BR>“It’s too late, you fool!” Thebin bellowed.<BR><BR>In his heart, the Elf Lord knew it was true and yanked on the reins to turn Caran away from the ranks of the dead.<BR>
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Postby Tempest » Thu Sep 26, 2002 1:19 pm

Tempest was restless. It was not so much the endless days of training the soldiers for readiness or even the many plans the Mouth of Sauron and she poured over in the shadows of their War Chamber. No, it was something deeper than all this, and yet she could not find the answers within herself.<BR><BR>She would often find herself standing at the top of the winding staircase of the tallest tower, gazing absently toward the West. It was as if she could see the heavens themselves opening and revealing a different world, a vision of what could be. A strange lust for power was gnawing at her heart, devouring her mind like a worm at the bud of a flower.<BR><BR>Yet, something deeper, below the surface, perhaps that contained the part of her that was still human, called out a shrill warning. She had seen many mighty men fall in her day, and it was the lust for power that had led them to their final destruction. What was the secret for victory? It was something they had never grasped. <BR><BR>She saw the same mistakes in him, her new King. She saw the light in his eyes when he gave commands and watched the orcs cower in fear. He had built castles in his mind, and she knew such imaginings were dangerous. The world was still fair, and Gondor would not fall under the shadow so easily again. <BR><BR>Her dark eyes rested on the horizon where she thought the white city of Minas Tirith stood. She knew that their eyes were watching Mordor, that they knew of the gathering of dark powers. They would not wait much longer.<BR><BR>She heard a step behind her, and a familiar voice from the shadows. <i>"What is it that you see, when you come up here all alone? I think you are oftener in this tower than in the throne room."</i> <BR><BR>She did not turn, for she knew the Mouth's voice well enough. <i>"I am wondering about Gondor. It is always on my mind."</i><BR><BR><i>"What do you wonder about it?"</i> he said, coming closer. Her back stiffed slightly, for his presence was loathsome to her.<BR><BR><i>"I wonder how many more days will pass before they send their soldiers to rid the land of us,"</i> she answered.<BR><BR><i>"Perhaps they will wait to see what we will do."</i><BR><BR>She laughed bitterly. <i>"No, they are not fools. They will come in full strength, and they will come soon. They will not tolerate so great an evil at their doorstep."</i><BR><BR><i>"What do you propose we do?"</i> he asked.<BR><BR>A smile spread across her face, and she turned her dark eyes finally to meet his. <i>"I say, we send a emissary from the land of Mordor, to announce our intentions."</i><BR><BR>He took a step back and frowned.<i>"Are you mad? That will only bring them on us sooner."</i><BR><BR><i>"They will attack any day now, and I would rather ruffle their feathers a bit first. We will send them a rich envoy of goods from the King and Queen of Mordor and seek an audience with them. Our messengers will then announce our intentions of liberating Mordor from their grasp and bringing a new era peace to Middle Earth."</i><BR><BR>He scoffed at her words. <i>"They will kill our messengers before they even reach the borders of our land."</i><BR><BR><i>"They will kill those who carry the white flag of peace? I think not, at least not immedietly. They are men of character. They live their lives by a set of noble rules. I think they will hear them, and then kill them,"</i> she said. <i>"But either way, it makes no difference to me. We will send Helazzar back with them, and I do not think they will kill him. He will be returned to them as a good-will offering."</i> The thought amused her greatly, and her face flushed in the coolness of the night. <BR><BR>The Mouth of Sauron remained skeptical, but he saw no true harm in her silly scheme. <i>"Helazzar will most likely betray us,"</i> he pointed out.<BR><BR><i>"I think not, and he will be such a mystery to them that they will know not what to think. I have his soul; his friends will not win him back so easily. He will be my eyes and ears in Gondor,"</i> she said.<BR><BR><i>"He will be useless to you, for they will watch his every move, if they don't kill him first,"</i> the Mouth said.<BR><BR><i>"They have such love for their own that I think they will try to restore him. Their affection is their weakness, and their love will be their downfall."</i> Her voice had changed and gone was the humor of before. As her eyes fell on the far horizon, a look of deep hatred came into her face, though beneath it all rested a quiet pain that had no voice.<BR><BR>The Mouth of Sauron noted all this, wondering what it would be like to find those hate-filled gaze directed at him someday. <i>"Very well, my lady. It will be done as you request. I only ask that you make certain that the troops are prepared for battle, for such an action can only incur the wrath of Gondor."</i><BR><BR><i>"Let them come,"</i> Tempest said quietly. <i>"Let them come quickly, for I am sick to death of waiting. Our land needs blood to sustain it, and the fields have been deprived these long years. Let the flood waters rush out upon us, for we will surely turn the river back towards them and drown them with their own devices."</i> <BR>
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Postby Finrod_the_Faithful » Sun Sep 29, 2002 1:29 pm

<BR>The dream pushed at the edges of Elrohir’s consciousness but did not enter. Like an elusive thought that <BR>one could not pin down, it slipped around the borders and then went away. The woman stirred beside him. <BR>“King and Queen of Mordor indeed,” she murmured, sounding miffed or amused (or both) as she shifted <BR>and was still again.<BR><BR><i>King and Queen of Mordor</i>. Whom could she mean? She shivered a little and he moved to hold her as <BR>she slept. <i>Kning and Queen of Mordor</i>? What on Middle Earth could she mean? Had she perceived <BR>something in this close proximity to the Dark Tower? Was it some memory of what had once been?<BR><BR>Dawn was close, but there was yet no welcoming light. He lay half-awake, cradling his precious armful and <BR>allowing his thoughts to wander.<BR><BR>
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Postby Belegûr » Mon Sep 30, 2002 8:39 am

Akhôrahil regarded Naiore silently for a few moments before making any reply. So much emotion…barely kept under control. It was almost amusing to watch her frustration every time he stopped her from making any move towards the Crows. And now sting him…trying to guess more about him and his intentions. He wondered what she would think of the result…<BR><BR>But he also had a test to make…and now was the time to make it. Hopefully, it would turn out as he had anticipated… What was clear regardless was that he had to make major changes to his plans after the recent happenings in Mordor. It seemed that they were all too stuck in the old ways after all. Very well; if that were the only way they knew to do things, he would not hinder them. But they would do well in not expecting him to always follow their lead without asking his counsel first…<BR><BR>The impatient look on Naiore’s face got him out of his thoughtfulness.<BR><BR>“Yes, I spoke of information. Are you ready to receive it now? Or are you still more interested in trying to play your little games with my men, as is your wont? A Ravener might be expected to, but a wise Ravener would do her best to suppress urges that might have unpleasant consequences.”<BR><BR>Naiore, a fire smouldering in her eyes, made as if to reply, but Akhôrahil never gave her the chance. Suddenly her eyes widened in surprise, and her face took on an expression of mixed anger, fear and confusion. <BR><BR>Just as she was about to make a retort, the landscape changed before her eyes. Mighty mountains rose close. Judging from their ash-grey colour, this was the northern chain of the Mountians of Mordor, the Ered Lithui. A barren plain lay before their feet; barren, but not empty. A great host of Men, Orcs and Trolls was assembled, filling the plain to the mountains’ feet. In the midst of this throng, there was a vast empty space around a great chasm opening in the ground. Nothing could be seen there, and yet for some reason no living thing moved there. <BR><BR>The view seemed to zoom in, and Naiore saw that a large platform had been erected on the edge of the empty space. On it, flanked by guards, stood three persons, one woman and two men, and she inhaled sharply when she recognised the one on the left. Helazzar. The Hunter. What was he doing there? The man in the middle seemed to be holding a speech of some sort, but she could hear no sound. As from afar she heard the voice of Akhôrahil speaking.<BR><BR>“The man you see was known as the Mouth of Sauron. I suppose you have made his acquaintance earlier during your time in Mordor. The woman is named Tempest. They seem to be the ones ruling in Mordor now. What you see took place a couple of days ago, when they proclaimed themselves King and Queen of this land”<BR><BR>His voice fell silent, and Naiore went back to studying the scenario unfolding before her eyes. Presently, the view wandered around, giving her a closer look at the assembled hosts. Last of all, the image concentrated on a force of Orcs standing somewhat to the side of the others. Even without hearing their leader speak, she quickly guessed that here were some less enthusiastic troops for the new King…<BR><BR>And as she was in the middle of this, the view vanished, leaving her back with Akhôrahil and the Crows, who now looked as though they were about to leave.<BR><BR>Akhôrahil watched her as she obviously tried to get herself together for an answer. <BR><BR>“Well, you have had your information about the state in Mordor. As for my price; there is none. Use this knowledge however you want, and I shall know how to judge you by your choice.”<BR><BR>With those words, he sprang into the saddle, and set out in an easterly direction, his Crows following closely.
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