~ The Mists of Eriador ~

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

At the Forsaken

Postby Morghan~Lachlan » Thu Oct 01, 2009 12:11 am

*

Morghan blinked back tears that threatened to fall. She had never dreamed that anyone of the Eldar race would envy mankind; it was usually the other way around. The envy of mortality was hard to fathom, but so too was love. To love someone so much and then be parted from them by death was bad enough, but to face that time and time again was…was… enough to break one’s heart. She looked at Halasían and her heart was filled with compassion. He had loved Raven.

“I wish that I had known her,” Anna said quietly breaking the silence. “Though I feel in a way that I did know her… in visions… and dreams…” She laid her hand out on the table next to Halasían’s head, fingers barely touching his hair. He looked up and smiled a sad, slight smile.

“She would have liked you Anna,” he said as he took her hand and held it clasped between his own.

“And I her.”

“I wish I had had more time to know her,” Morghan spoke up wiping at her eyes with the back of her hand. “We only met a few days ago, yet she was kind to me, more kind than an ordinary stranger would have been,” she said smiling wanly and briefly mentioned told them all how she had come to meet Raven.

“She wasn’t ordinary,” Halasían said as he cast a sideways glance at Morghan. Dimwold? That was a Ranger village, relatively small and in a remote area in the Hills of Evendim. Was Morghan a ranger? She didn’t look nor act like one… But then he thought back to that time in the Chetwood when Nilvoth had suddenly appeared. It was Morghan who had thrown a knife and wounded him.

“When will we be able to lay her to rest?” Morghan asked Malassuil.

“As soon as the rain lets up.” Malassuil had been quietly listening to the trio seated around the table. It was already clear that Anna and Halasían knew each other, but Morghan? Did he know her too? “It may be awhile yet. Are you tired? Perhaps you should lie down and rest.” he said. She looked pale and was rubbing her temple.

“No, not really, though it was a long night….” She sighed as she looked over at Raven’s body. “I want to hear what Halasian has to say.”

*
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The Avari

Postby Hunter » Tue Oct 27, 2009 1:47 am

~

Outside on the cold grey mountainside Michrel saw Kirit, a man of mixed Dunlandish/Rhudaurian blood talking with Rácino. Kirit had usurped Michrel’s place at Nárello’s side after the incidence at Ost-in-Edhil, an event that Michrel still had mixed feelings about. There were five other men with him scattered around the entrance; some sitting on the bare rocks or standing about.

In one sense he was relieved; ever since that fateful day nearly six years ago near Bree-town, Nárello had kept Michrel close. That had changed once they had left Eriador. The first time Nárello had left Michrel alone was when they traveled through the Gap of Rohan. Michrel had welcomed the time alone, though it felt strange being on his own. He had not strayed far from their camp near the edge of an ancient forest, and when Nárello returned he seemed rather pleased with himself though he wouldn’t tell Michrel where he had gone or what he had done. From that time on it seemed that Nárello had begun to trust him, sharing from time to time the unwritten code of the shadowy, loosely knit organization known as Bloodcrows and instructing him in the different ways they worked.

He caught Rácino’s eye, nodded slightly and then started walking in the direction of the cliff. Nárello had left Rácino in charge, or was it the other way around? Michrel still hadn’t figured out the strange Avari who, for the past three or four years had come and gone at will, meeting up with Nárello and then disappearing again. Was Nárello giving him orders or was Rácino the one who was directing Nárello? Whoever was in charge didn’t really matter to Michrel as long as he discovered what was going on now that they were back in Eriador. Something was brewing.

Squatting down near the edge of the cliff, he picked up a few loose stones caught in a crack and tossed them idly over the edge as he scanned the distant horizon.

The Hollin Ridge jutted out just below and further south were the ruins of Ost-in-Edhil. Far beyond his sight lay the Hills of Evendim and Dimwold. Funny how the thought of his childhood home happened to pop into his mind just now, he hadn’t really thought about it in years. No one he really cared about was there anymore. No, that wasn’t exactly true, there was Ewen, only Ewen Thane was rarely ever in Dimwold. He roamed all over Eriador, sometimes even beyond its borders.

“Lachlan,” Rácino called out and Michrel turned. Kirit was walking toward the cavern and the Avari was hobbling towards him. He tossed the last rock over the edge, watching until it disappeared from sight before slowly getting to his feet.

“We will be leaving soon,” Rácino said as he drew near.

“Where is Nárello?”

“He headed north,” Rácino answered. The answer was vague, the Avari never was very forthcoming with information of any kind and Michrel hadn’t really expected anything more but at least this small bit of information gave him an idea of where Nárello was. More than likely north meant somewhere in Rhudaur.

“And we will be joining him.” It was a statement, not a question. Michrel figured it best to act as if he knew what was going on.

“No. Kirit will be returning north, but you and I will not.”

This surprised Michrel and a puzzled look from crossing his face. He was about to ask where they were going when Rácino dismissed him with a wave of his hand.

“Go and gather your things. I must speak with Rávion and Arvano before we leave.” He turned his back and started to limp over to the two Avari who were talking together. Michrel watched him for a minute with more questions running through his thoughts before finally walking slowly towards the cavern entrance.

Walking through the first part of the tunnel, Michrel was still mulling over questions and not really paying attention to anything else. He heard someone approaching and moved closer to the wall to make room for them to pass. The next thing he knew he was shoved hard against the wall and felt a sharp pain as his head slammed against the rough stone.

“Better watch your step ranger.” Kirit whispered harshly. He held Michrel’s shoulder in a firm grip for a moment, then let go.

“What do you mean?” Michrel hissed back, angry at himself for being caught unaware like that. Kirit stepped back and Michrel wished he could tell how far exactly but his ears were ringing and his heart was thumping loudly.

“Nárello doesn’t trust you anymore after what happened.”

“How do you know?” Michrel spat back as a stab of fear pierced his gut. He knew Kirit didn’t like him, but would he lie about something like that?

“Cause of what he had me tell that deformed elf. He’s to watch you closely.”

“Then why warn me?” Michrel asked angrily balling his hands into fists, ready to strike.

“Wanna find out if you’ll run again, like before.” Kirit snickered. Michrel wanted nothing more than to send a fist straight into Kirit’s face but he held his temper and bit his tongue. He was being baited and he wasn’t about to fall for it. They stood in the darkness, each waiting for the other to make a move; Kirit was the first. “Figured ya wouldn’t do nothing,” he sneered leaning in close enough for Michrel to smell his foul breath. Then he snickered again before starting to walk away.

Michrel slumped against the rough stone wall as he listened to the diminishing steps echoing against the walls and then slowly released his breath and with it the tension that had built up. Nárello had been furious when he had killed the orc back at Ost-in-Edhil, that much was true, but could that one incident have wiped out the years Michrel had spent gaining the trust of the Bloodcrow? It might have, Michrel had to admit, but he didn’t regret for one moment what had been a gut reaction to senseless brutality; he’d seen too much of it during his time with Nárello.

He understood all too well what Ewen had tried to warm him about when he had told him he was planning on infiltrating the Bloodcrows. The danger involved was not only to his life, but to his soul. It was the one thing Ewen had stressed above all, and the one thing Michrel constantly had to guard against because he had faced them both one right after the other from the start when he had had to take a life in order to prove that he was sincere in wanting to join. Visions of the woman he had killed still haunted his dreams...and as long as they did he was he knew he wasn't lost.

Was it time to leave the Bloodcrows, especially after what Kirit had said? Surely the information he had gleaned over the past few years would be useful to the Rangers and gain back a measure of respect from them. He had names of some of the leaders and could tell them of the ongoing plans he had learned of while in Umbar and Harad. But what good would that do, it was so far away. Something brewing in the north and he had the feeling it was important. He needed to stay, at least long enough to find out more. Then if the threat to his safety was real, he would leave.

Gingerly he felt his head; a knot was forming just above the right temple. It was tender, but nothing serious and hopefully it would not be too noticeable under this hair. What was serious was what Kirit had said and he would have to be very careful from here on out.

The subtle yearning that had been lying just below the surface of his conscience suddenly began to slowly seep through and he longed to go off somewhere by himself and seek temporary peace in the pipe and sticky substance he had discovered while in the east. ‘No, not yet, there isn’t much left,’ he told himself wearily as he pushed himself away from the wall at the same time he thought he heard someone coming down the tunnel from outside.

***

The sun had not yet marked the noon hour when they started down the mountain. There was a trail part of the way, if trail it could be called. It was more like a goat path that followed the natural lines of the mountainside across ledges and down crevices. In some places the trail dropped down only a few feet, while other places dropped several. And while the men, orcs and two of the Avari had little troubles traversing those areas, for Rácino it was a different matter. Sometimes he managed to find an alternate route that was easier but took longer, other times if it was only a few feet he had to cross, he would lower himself as far as possible without using handholds and drop the rest of the way. Care must be taken when he did this to make sure the ledge was wide enough to land on safely. There were two spots though that would have been impassable for Rácino if not for the orcs. One of them was where part of the mountain had broken away and the narrow ledge they were walking on was split by a wide crevice gap. One of the larger orcs let Rácino wrap his arm around his neck and carried him across a wide crevice where the other had used handholds and footholds to reach a different ledge about twenty feet down and across. Michrel shuddered when he looked back and saw what was happening, thankful that he’d been able to make it across without their aid.

Soon the worst of the downward trek was behind them and the first growth of taller trees began appearing. Travel became easier; the ground beneath their feet became firmer, less rocky and steep and hard packed dirt and short rough grass appeared for longer stretches beneath and between the trees. They stopped only once for a short time, to rest and eat while the orcs roamed freely in search of game to sate their hunger. When they started again Michrel found himself walking behind Kirit and Barstow. The Dunlander began relating a story to Barstow he had heard around the campfire one night.

At first Michrel listened, hoping to glean a bit of information, if any was to be had, but then he realized what the story was and slowed down letting the Rávion and Arvarno, who were behind, pass by. He’d heard the story before from Nárello. One of the Eldar had tried to infiltrate a Bloodcrow band led by Malebranche; he had been unmasked and his fate had been left in Bryna’s hands. It was oblivious to Michrel why Kirit was telling the story, he had already decided that Michrel was an infiltrator and was reminding him of what was in store for him. Michrel’s face turned grim as he stared at Kirit’s back.

“You don’t like him, do you?” The crippled Avarai had walked up beside Michrel.

“It doesn’t really matter whether I like him or not,” His guard up instantly, Michrel tried to keep his tone neutral. “We are Bloodcrows and must work together.”

“Despite your differences?”

“If you mean because we may not like each other, I already said that doesn’t matter. I try to ignore him.”

Then Michrel recited almost word for word what Nárello had told him once. “We share a common cause, all of us.” He spread wide his hands in a gesture meant to include all of their party; men, Avari and orcs. “Because of this, it is our duty to stand beside one another, defend and give aid when needed, work together… despite any differences.” There, that should satisfy him he thought.

“What about other differences that may not be so obvious? The beliefs you were taught as a child, your views of right and wrong, good and evil? Can you set those aside?”

Why, all of a sudden, was Rácino talking to him like this? He usually kept to himself, except when Nárello was around and it was usually Nárello who sought Rácino. Maybe Rácino was testing him in some way; if that was the case, he’d have to try harder. The muscles in his jaw clenched as he kept on walking. “I have.”

Rácino stopped and then said something softly under his breath. Michrel kept on walking, his step faltering just a fraction before he was able to recover. He didn’t look back. ‘Don’t give yourself away’, he told himself. ‘It could be a trap. Just keep walking, pretend you didn’t understand.’

~
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~ Bloodcrow camp~

Postby Hunter » Mon Nov 30, 2009 2:13 am

~

The shadows among the foothills were deepening as the sun journeyed further westward and it was nearly dark by the time the small band of travelers reached their destination, the rim of a vale situated just south of Hollin Ridge in the foothills of Caradhas. Bordered on three sides by steep rocky slopes, it was a natural basin formed by the folded hills. There was a narrow opening on the western side but it was blocked by a thicket of hawthorn bushes growing so close together than it would takes a considerable amount of time to hack through. Instead a narrow path, starting nearby wound down to the bottom. Kirit, in the lead, told Barstow to begin leading the others down, and then cupping his hands around his mouth sounded a low caw, caw.

Bringing up the rear Michrel lifted his head and looked around when he heard the answering call that meant one of the guards was on his way over and he slowed his pace hoping to hear the news as he approached the rim.

“Anything to report?” He heard Kirit ask.

“Had to chase away a pack of wolves hanging around last week, otherwise it’s been quiet.”

“Good. We’ll be leaving here tomorrow. Nárello wants us to bring the rest of the prisoners north. Are they fit to travel?”

Michrel stopped to greet the guard before continuing toward the trail, despite the glowering look on Kirit’s face.

“They should be, haven’t really done much since we left those old ruins,” the guard replied after greeting Michrel. The look on Kirit’s face wasn’t lost on the guard and he wondered what was going on. He waited until Michrel disappeared over the rim before asking.

“Change of plans." Kirit told him. "I’ll be in charge during the trip north; Lachlan’s to leave with Rácino.”

“Glad it’s not me. That guy gives me the creeps sometimes –especially when he looks at you with that pale eye of his. Where’re they going?” the guard said in a low voice.

“Not sure.” Kirit rubbed his chin. He didn’t know where the Avari was headed and it had been the elf’s decision to take Michrel with him. A sudden thought crossed his mind and he turned toward the path, but Michrel was all ready out of sight. ‘Did Nárello know where they were going?’

Rácino had disappeared by the time Michrel reached the floor of the vale and didn’t come back when the light supper of bread and dried meat from the stores had been passed around. Probably off to see to his horse, a lithe grey stallion fast as the wind. It was one of the few things Michrel had ever seen the twisted Avari show concern for.

After the meal, Rávion and Arvarno went off somewhere by themselves and Kirit went with a couple of the men to check on the prisoners. He made it clear Michrel wasn’t to go near the prisoners. Michrel didn’t think anything of it at the time but later when Kirit passed him over when he volunteered for guard duty along the rim, Michrel realized that Kirit was ignoring him. The other men were beginning to cast questioning looks his way.

‘Let him play his little games,’ Michrel thought as he walked over to the lean-to hidden in the midst of a stand of small trees and tall bushes. Inside there was room enough for four or five to sleep if they lay close. Earlier he had thrown his pack near the edge, laying claim to it as his chosen spot for the night; now he picked up the pack and left. He’d rather sleep out under the stars anyway after spending all that time in the cavern up on the mountain.

Resting his head on his pack with a thin blanket and his cloak for warmth, Michrel stared at the stars overhead to take his mind off things. He tried to find the old familiar patterns in the sky his father had shown him long ago but clouds were drifting in from the west and parts of the patterns kept disappearing. He was tired and tried closing his eyes but that didn’t work either.

Where was Rácino? He was puzzled by what he thought he had heard him say back on the path.

I was wrong about you. What did he mean? If he wanted Michrel to hear, why had he used the elvish tongue? No one knew he understood the language…unless it was a trick to find out if he did know it. But then why did he say ‘I’ instead of Nárello?

They were to leave in the morning but Rácino had not come back to camp yet. Michrel tried listening to see if he could hear him now that everyone else was sleeping but all he could hear were the distant muted sounds of the horses somewhere out in the field and an occasional muffled sound coming from the direction of the prisoners’ enclosure.

The prisoners – how many were there now? Had any of them died while he’d been away up in the mountains? Why were they being taken north? Why indeed had they been captured? He hadn’t taken part and neither had Nárello, the orcs had been sent with only a few of the Southrons to make sure they didn’t get carried away and massacre everyone. It wasn’t like the Bloodcrows to raid farmsteads; they usually tried to keep a low profile. Why had things changed?

Where did the two Avari fit in the scheme of things? Were they Bloodcrow?

Wearily Michrel closed his eyes again, but sleep was a long time coming.

***

“Get up Lachlan.” Kirit prodded Michrel none too gently with his foot. “Rácino’s waiting.”

Michrel rolled out of the way just as Kirit was about to prod him again and lay glaring up at him until the man turned on his heel and left.

He closed his eyes for a moment. Was it morning already? He felt as if he had not slept at all. Eyelids heavy with sleep, he opened them a fraction and looked around. Low lying clouds covered the sky and wispy fog curled and crept along the lower ground of the vale; there was even a trace of frost touching the tips of the short rough grass. The season was changing.

Rolling over on one side, Michrel wanted to do nothing more than pull the blanket up over his face and sleep but knew that if he did Kirit would be back. Groaning, he pushed himself up, grabbed his blanket and stuffed it in his pack before going in search of Rácino.

Within the hour Michrel was mounted on the back of a horse, following behind the three Avari as they rode slowly across the floor of the vale. Rácino was in the lead riding his horse, a stallion grey as a cloud heavy with rain. He couldn’t help but admire the lines of the horse every time he saw it. Desert bred he guessed, for he had seen similar horses on his travels with Nárello, it stood a couple of hands taller than the horses the rest of them would ride. Rácino looked different mounted on horseback; his crooked back and lame leg were barely noticeable and Michrel wondered if it was because of the shorter stirrup length that brought his legs up higher and made him lean slightly forward. Whatever the reason, the Avari looked as if he were one with his horse. The other two Avari, it turned out, were a different matter completely; neither one of them had much experience riding. They were riding double, Arvarno in front and Rávion mounted behind. Both of them looked uncomfortable with none of the grace and ease of Rácino.

At the southern end of the vale the hillsides were steep rock walls with a narrow cut separating them. Piles of tumbled rock lined both edges on the ground. The guards had seen them approaching and already had the gate, covered with bundles of thorny brush to conceal it, opened for them.


~
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Postby Hunter » Mon Dec 07, 2009 1:56 am

~

~Ost-in-Edhil~

They continued traveling in a southerly direction after leaving the Bloodcrow camp, Rácino leading them an easy pace in the steep foothills to let the pair of non riders become accustomed to their mount before picking up the pace when the landscape changed to gradual slopes of rolling hills. Reddish colored rock, the same color as Caradhras which loomed high on their left, littered the landscape covered with short rough grass and little else.

They made camp early that day, mainly for the benefit of the two Avari, but were up and on their way shortly after the day had dawned. By the time the sun reached the height of its journey across the sky they reached the top of a low knoll and paused for a moment to survey the distant countryside. Below lay a river with swift flowing water dancing and sparkling in the sunlight. The horses tossed their head and nickered at the sound and smell of it, eager to be on their way. Without a backward glance at the others Rácino gave Sûl his head leaving the others behind and it was up to Michrel to lead Rávion and Arvarno down by the easiest route.

Rácino had been biding his time, waiting for a chance to be alone, if just for a short while. Sure-footed as a goat, Sûl found the way down the steep sided slope easily with nary a slip. When they reached the bottom he wanted nothing more than to keep going along the ancient roadway but instead guided Sûl to the river, dismounted and let him drink.

Was it his imagination or were the waters of the Sirannon lower than they were the last time he’d stood on its bank? It was true that rivers ran lower in autumn before the rains came, but it had been a normal summer and the water should be higher. He looked toward the mountains, following the river’s course until it disappeared from sight. He’d been to the source only once shortly, after Malebranche had entered Khazad-dûm. There in the narrow valley a mountain creek at the north end of the long shallow valley ran clear and cold, fed from the ever-present snow on the mountains top. A few other small ones joined with it as it made its way to the narrow opening near the center then fell some thirty feet or more into the river bed. As far as he could tell the snowcap looked changed, so why did it seem as if there was less water? There had to be a reason. A thoughtful frown crossed his marred face until he finally turned to watch the descent of the others. Arvarno was the first one down, followed closely by Michrel.

The muscles in Rávion’s thighs protested once her feet were on firm ground. She had thought the worst over after the first day of riding but found after only half the day she felt just as tired and sore as she had last night after a full day of riding. She rubbed her thighs with the heel of her hand while waiting for Arvarno to dismount.

“How much further to Ost-in-Edhil?” Rávion asked Michrel as he took the reins from Arvarno’s hand to lead the horses to water.

“Half a day, maybe longer,” Michrel answered after looking at the mountain and judging their distance from them.

“Would you like to stop here and continue on in the morning?” Rácino had heard her question as he walked up from the river.

“No, I’d rather keep on.” She looked up and down the remains of the ancient roadway. “At least we’ll be traveling over level ground.”

They did not stop once they set out again, Rácino pushing them on faster than they travelled thus far. The muscles in Rávion’s thighs protested but she didn’t complain; her desire to see the city drowned out the discomfort. Her seat was numb, the muscles in her thighs burning by the time they turned off the roadway and started to climb a long, low rise lined on one side with stone and tumbled rock that had the look of having been worked by hand. The sun was just starting to set as the approach curved and she had her first glimpse of the ruins, the rounded top of a tower set against the darkening sky.

Ost-in-Edhil. How any times had she sat and listened while Morondo, an Avari who had lived there for a short time, talked about the fabled city? She had dreamed of this day and now, finally, it had arrived.

As more of the ruins came into view she saw that the ravages of war and time had not been kind to the once proud fortress city of the elves. But that didn’t matter to Rávion, there was enough left that she could picture in her mind where some of the places that Morondo had described were. Atop the ruined tower must be where he said one could see nearly to the River Gwathlo that flowed to the sea and the pair of great stones they had just passed must be all that was left of the great posts that held the gate of heavy oak and iron. For a moment Rávion forgot her discomfort and just stared. It must have been magnificent.

The edge of the sun was almost touching the far edge of the horizon when they finally rode up to a ruined building not far from the great posts and stopped.

“What do you think of Ost-in-Edhil now that you have seen it Rávion?” Rácino asked as he dismounted near an area that looked as if it had once been used as a temporary campsite.

A blacken ring of stones was set just outside a building that still had three walls and part of a fourth standing. A piece of the second floor, still attached to two of the walls and supported by a piece of timber on the third side could serve as a shelter from the elements if the need arose. The last time Rácino and Michrel had been here, it had been used to house the prisoners.

“It is all that I imagined, and more,” she answered, jolted from her reverie by the sound of his voice. Slowly she dismounted, standing next to horse for a moment and holding on until she was sure her leg muscles would bare her weight. Arvarno dismounted next and was looking around when Michrel pulled his horse up next to his.

“Get some rest and come daybreak I’ll show you around.” Rácino told Rávion as he started to loosen the saddle from Sûl’s back. His pack already lay on the ground at his feet.

“Arvarno and I are going to walk around a bit before it gets too dark. We need to stretch out legs,” she said before she turned and began untying her pack from the horse and so didn't see the frown that crossed his face. Neither did Arvarno who was starting to loosen the pack tied on in front.

As Michrel rode up and dismounted Rácino instructed him to make sure the horse were cared for. “I’m just going to have a look around," he told Michrel and then turned to Arvarno. “Be careful. Some of the structures aren’t very safe.”

When Arvarno was done he turned to take Rávion’s pack from her hands. “Sore?”

“God’s yes!” She sighed, gladly letting Arvarno take the pack from her hands. He set it on the ground nearby. “I need to walk or I’m afraid I’ll stiffen up.”

“You’re not going to start searching tonight, are you?”

“No, I just want to have a look around before it gets too dark, without Racino.”

“Do you think it might still be here after all these years?”

Rávion sighed softly. “I honestly don’t know. Rácino said he searched the ruins pretty thoroughly a couple different times, including the last time he was here, but never found anything of interest.”

“He knows about the ring?”

“I didn’t tell him about it.” Rávion paused, looking Arvarno square in the eye. “And I don’t think Morondo did either.” She sighed again. “Don’t look at me like that! I couldn’t tell him and risk the chance that he might find it before we arrived!”

"Don't you trust him?"

Rávion remained silent, ignoring Arvarno's question and glanced over the horse’s rump. Michrel had his back to them and was loosening the clinch. The quiet sound of humming drifted her way while he worked. Satisfied that he wasn’t eavesdropping she turned back to Arvarno. “Come on let’s go, it’s getting dark.” They headed toward the tower, barely glancing in Michrel’s direction as he removed the saddle and set it on the ground.

When they came to the tower Arvarno stopped next to it admiring the workmanship of the stone that was still visible after all this time. “I wonder if this is dwarven made,” he said absently as he traced his finger along a faint thin line that marked the joint between stones.

“It might be, Morondo told me the Eldar and the dwarfs from the nearby mountains were on friendly terms when it was built. The ancient roadway we traveled on was built to accommodate trade between them.”

“So what did you tell Rácino?”

“I told him about Morondo's wish to have his tools, the ones given him by Celebrimbor. Rácino already knew they were the one thing Morondo regretted leaving behind when he fled the city and he agreed to look for them.”

“I wondered about that,” Arvarno murmured, folding his arms across his chest as he leaned against the tower and looked at her. ”Since you only told me about the ring just before we left the mountain.” He was still angry that she hadn’t told him earlier.

“I didn’t want to take the chance you might slip and tell Nárello," Rávion replied stubbornly as she crossed her arms too. “You tell him everything and he doesn't need to know about the ring. Let’s not rehash this.”

He still wasn't sure if she was telling him the truth or not. Why was she being so secretive anyway about a ring that could possibly help their people? Or did she intend to keep it for herself once it was found he wondered. “Fair enough. Did Morondo tell you where the ring was or where to look for it?”

“He didn’t know for sure what became of it. There hadn’t been time to finish it once the enemy attacks began. The stone had not yet been set and Celebrimbor put it away for safekeeping. I want to search the workshops.”

“Do you think you can find them? This place is in worse shape than I imagined.”

A slight frown creased her pretty face. “I hope so. Morondo described the city in great detail to me.” She reached over and laid a hand against the stone tower. “He told me about this, said he walked by it every day on his way to the workshops. Come on, let’s not waste anymore time.”

"I'm curious. What reason did you give Rácino for coming west?" Arvarno asked as they started walking again.

Rávion smiled. "I told him you were restless and wanted to join Nárello."

After they left the tower, Rávion and Arvarno wandered through the ruins exploring the empty shells of ruined buildings, overgrown courtyards and peering down fallen-in staircases that led into darkness or were blocked by piles of tumbled rocks and rumble. As the stars began to appear in the night sky they shed just enough light for them to continue.

Meanwhile Michrel set up a make-shift camp. There was firewood left from the last time they had been at here as well as the remnants of a fire ring. He cleared out the old ashes, made a fire and began cleaning a pair of pheasants Rácino had shot with his bow earlier that day. He had them roasting over the open flames by the time Rávion and Arvarno returned.

“Where’s Rácino?” Rávion asked as she gingerly lowered herself to the ground. Her legs felt better now that she had stretched them by walking, but they still were sore.

“Don’t know,” Michrel replied as he lifted a stick holding meat from above the fire and held it out to her. “After caring for his horse he went off somewhere to look around. I thought maybe you’d run into each other.” Arvarno carefully pulled off a few pieces for himself from the stick Rávion held.

“Tell me Michrel, it is Michrel isn’t it?” Rávion asked when they had finished eating. Michrel nodded. “How many times have you been here?”

It was the first time that either of the Avari had ever addressed him by name and he tried not to show his surprise. “A few.” He shrugged as he picked at his own stick of meat.

“When was the first?”

“The first?” He reached for the last stick of meat over the fire and set it aside on a nearby rock so that it wouldn’t burn “A few years ago. Nárello and I met Rácino here.”

When they had left Bree to head east, they had travelled cross country on foot, through the South Downs instead of by the Greenway, until they reached the River Mitheithel. It was tricky crossing the river, there was no raft or boat. Michrel remembered how swift and cold the water had been. After that, they headed for the ruins. At the time, Michrel wondered why they stayed as long as they did, until one night a rider appeared. It was Rácino. The meeting had obviously been planned. He still remembered that first jolt of shock and surprise when he realized Rácino was of the Eldar race. Much had happened since then and very little surprised him anymore when it came to the Bloodcrows; it seemed as if they had contacts everywhere.

“And the last?”

What was she getting at Michrel wondered. She must know that something had happened here; hadn’t she said so back in the cavern on the mountain? Was she trying to find out what? If she was, he of all people was the wrong one to question. “Several months ago, in the spring.” He tried to act naturally as he brushed his fingers against his pant leg and stood up but he could feel his stomach knotting up.

“Tell Rácino I’ve gone down to the river to set some snares.” And he grabbed his pack and left.

“I think your questions made him uncomfortable,” Arvarno said quietly, leaning back and stretching out his legs.

“Yes, that very well may be.” Rávion watched with narrowed eyes as the retreating figure was swallowed by the surrounding darkness. “I get the feeling he’s hiding something. I wonder what it is…”

Michrel hadn’t intended to set any snares but it was the first thing that had popped into his mind as an excuse to leave before Rávion questioned him anymore; he didn’t like how her eyes bored into him. But now that he had said it, he better go down to the river. Without thinking, he automatically took the same route through the ruins that everyone used during their last stay. When he neared the outermost ring of stones that marked the remains of the wall that had once surrounded the city he realized his mistake. He stopped and thought about turning around, but instead steeled himself and cautiously continued. He was ready, but his steps faltered anyway when he caught a glimpse of something pale lying on the path. It was a bone. He took a few more steps and then stopped, closing his eyes briefly before opening them. There were more bones laying around, scattered no doubt by animals, and more lying in a pile nearby. Nárello had ordered the dead to remain where they had fallen as a grisly reminder to both the Bloodcrows and prisoners of what had happened, but to Michrel they were a sign that he wasn’t lost, had not yet succumbed to the senseless cruelty that had surrounded him during the past few years and become immune to it.

He was about to turn and continue on his way to the river when something caught his eye. He went over and stood above the pile of bones and looked around before kneeling to the ground. The night was still, he could hear nothing moving nearby except for the usual scurrying of small feet as creature of the night made their way through the tussocks of grass growing along the stones and somewhere far off the screech of an owl as it caught its unsuspecting prey. His heart was beating faster

Carefully he moved aside a hand with some of the finger bones still attached by dried strips of tendons, beneath lay three stones set close together, his breath caught as he looked at them before carefully replacing the hand. Rangers had been here, three of them; the stones were a sign should any other ranger happen upon the bones that they had been there. They were also left as a sign that they had taken something when they left. Michrel studied the pile of bones and quickly glanced around. What could have caught their eye? A bone, a piece of tattered cloth? The orcs wore nothing that would mark them as being with the Bloodcrows, none of them did. Then he remembered…the arrow! It was missing.

He replaced the hand over the stones before standing up. He wished there was some way of telling when they had been here; could they be close even now? His strides were longer now as he walked toward the river; he would set some snares and then return with a rounded stone from the river and place it near the other three just in case they should happen to come this way again. It was the smallest ray of hope he’d had in a long time and he clung to it even though he knew the chances were slim to nothing of his ever being able to slip away, not while Rácino was supposed to being watching him.

In the tower the air was still barely ruffling Rácino’s hair as he leaned against the crumbling archway high above the ruins; the wind that had blown for most of the day was losing its strength with the setting of the sun.
He had climbed the tower to have a few moments alone and survey the countryside before rejoining the others around the fire and had stayed to watch the light fade from clear blue to deeper indigo and even now was reluctant to leave.

The reluctance had to do with his current frame of mind. Doubt and disillusionment clouded his thinking. Doubt that he should have brought Rávion and Arvarno here without letting Nárello know where they were going and the feeling of disillusionment about the Bloodcrow ideology that was creeping over him more and more each day.

For so long a time he had believed the Bloodcrow way was right; The only force in all of Middle Earth that might continue forever is that of the Bloodcrows, for they exist only because of others. The sons of widows, the soldiers of defeated armies, the wandering rogues, and those without anything left in the world - all of the forgotten of the earth - made up the hidden armies and silent spies of the Blood Crows. As long as the Powers in the Middle Earth contest with each other, and as long as men, women, and children are cast aside, there would be more Blood Crows. They were eternal only because suffering is eternal. * Those words had been taken to heart when he first heard them, so long ago now, but he still remembered.

It was sometime after the fall of Thangorodrim…

The mere thought of that place brought back memories that still haunted his dreams…how long he’d been held captive there he didn’t know – it seemed like a lifetime –enduring countless cruelties and torture as the black shadowy figure he now knew was Morgoth, used him and the other Avari who had been captured to…

No! He slammed his fist against the rough stone, refusing to surrender to the memories and turned his gaze in the direction of the campsite.

A fire was burning in the old fire pit and something was roasting over the open flames, probably the pheasants Lachlan had shot earlier that day. He watched for awhile while he held his throbbing hand close to his chest.

The various times when Rácino had been with Nárello, he’d never noticed anything unusual about Michrel; the man followed orders and gave no outward sign that he was anything other than a faithful follower of the Bloodcrows. But Rácino had sensed something different in Michrel up on the mountain, a tenseness surrounding him like the feeling one felt before a late fall storm from the northeast rolled across the sea of Rhûn.


~

Edit 12-22-2009 added three more paragraphs to end of post

*direct quote written by Radagast in Shadow Over Arnor

~
Last edited by Hunter on Tue Dec 22, 2009 12:56 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Hunter » Mon Dec 07, 2009 1:58 am

~

~Ost-in-Edhil~

For two days Rávion and Arvarno searched the ruins of Ost-in-Edhil. At first Michrel offered to help but when his offered was refused there wasn’t much for him to do. Rather than stay near the campsite, he would set out early in the morning with his bow and wander the nearby hills or down by the river. He took the pipe with him, but never dared to use it, never knowing if he was being watched. Rácino was absent much of the time, where he went or what he did no one really knew for he never said a word before leaving or when he appeared again. Once Michrel climbed to the top of the tower to look around and thought he saw Rácino and Sûl standing on the top of one of the hills to the west of the ruins. He watched him for a long time wondering what he was doing and waited for something to happen, but Rácino never moved he just stood silhouetted against the sky.

At dusk of their second day in Ost-in-Edhil Michrel was coming back from the river, three rabbits dangling from a leather thong caught in snares set the day before thrown over his shoulder, when he heard voices as he neared the ruins. He stopped, trying to hear what they said but was too far away. Cautiously creeping closer, he bent low until he reached the fallen and tumbled outer wall surrounding the ancient city.

“No! It’s a foolish plan!” Rácino said angrily. He was leaning on his staff for support but pushed himself away from it as he tried to stand as straight as he could. “And dangerous.”

“Foolish? It would be foolish not to try!” scoffed Rávion. “As for dangerous, what harm can there be in seeking to renew long lost kinships?” She was determined to have her way no matter what Rácino said. Crossing her arms she raised her eyes level with his even thought the sight of his pale eye and scarred face repulsed her. “You know the way. Show me where Imladris lies.”

“You don’t care a rot about renewing kinship with the Eldar and you will be found out. It is said that Lord Elrond can tell when someone lies.”

“But I won’t lie. I will tell him the truth. Arvarno and I have come west to recover the lost belongings of Morondo and renew ties. Besides,” She added quietly with the hint of a sly smile, "It is best to learn all we can of our enemy. What better way than to live among them as friends for a time.”

“You’ve seen for yourself what it is like here, how can you still believe it?”

How could she still believe that their kindred meant the Avari harm? There was no enslavement of the people here in the west the way the vision had described, no armies in splendid armor planning to march east to subdue and claim more land. “How do you know it was a true foretelling and not just some frightening dream?”

“It was the future I saw, a future that has not yet come to pass,” Rávion was angry but tried to keep it in check. She didn’t like explaining herself to anyone, especially Rácino. Her voice grew softer as she tried a different approach. “But it will unless we change things. I had another vision Rácino, just before we met on the other side of mountain. In it I was shown an alternate future, one that may happen if…” she hesitated. She had almost mentioned the ring. “…if we succeed in our mission. In it you were whole again, the scars were gone and your back was straight.”

“Do you remember how you looked? I do…Lucanío.”

Struck silent at the use of a name he’d not heard spoken in years beyond counting Rácino stared at her for a moment. Then he turned and slowly walked away.

Rávion stared after him until she could no longer see him and then turned and started for the campsite.

Michrel remained crouched behind the wall for a long time before daring to come out.

Early the next morning they rode north.

~
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Postby Arassuil » Sat Mar 20, 2010 6:24 am

"Yes, from all I know, I think Raven would have wanted to know you, Anna."

Malassuil said after a passing silence... he went on...

"May she yet touch you in spirit, and may you see her and tell her story in the art you make."

Halasian picked his head up and said,

"Many lifetimes of men has she lived, and she watched them fade and die, so many... so many whose names we will never know. But now we will put her body to rest, and the doom she brought will fade, and for us life will go on to our ends."

Anna stood, saying in a raised tone of anger,

"Why do you try and put away that which is poured forth by her spirit? Halasian, you alone of all of us knew her. I myself remember a day's passing here in this room some years past, and I have drawn it, but Morghan and Malassuil know not. How could it be that at this point in time when much could have been spoken of by her, or could be spoken by you, do you say little?'

Halasian looked at Anna in aghast. She was on old friend... from a lifetime long passed. her sister was his concubine, and his mind rushed back through the days and years. Rebellion... too many times did he rebel. Yet in the quest to do good, it had failed him. It failed not only him, but his comrades in arms... the Dunedain Rangers... It failed his concubine, Anna's sister Courtney... It failed his wife, and most of all, his children. Infiltrating the Bloodcrows was his downfall, and that of so many others. he was cursed. He wanted to stand and slap Anna, but restrained himself. Sweat dripped from his brow, and he only said as he stood.

"Come, let us lay this elf to rest now ... rain or no."

Silently they made their way out. The two men carried the small woman, and as soon as they set foot outside, the rain tapped them all with its chilled wetness. Still, they went on, and came to the place they had prepared. The silken wrap was formed to her body as they lay her down, and silently they stood. Halasian spoke,

"You will rest now, elven wench of the ages. No more lives will you ruin, and no more troubles in this world will have your hand in them..."

Malassuil looked at Halasian, and could not take such words at her burial. He grabbed Halasian and pushed him over.

Anna heard the tussle and screamed at them...

"ENOUGH! Not now! Not here!"

The two men stood as Morghan came to Anna's side. The two muddied men gave each a glare, but silence held the day. Anna said softly.

"Go now, hurry away. May you rest long"

...and with that she took a hand full of mud and let it slide down atop Raven. Each did the same, but Halasian pushed much more in. He kept at it until the muddy trench was filled. He then turned and walked away as the skies opened up in ever harder rains.

Malassuil watched him go, as did Morghan. Anna said,

"And so goes from the lands of Middle Earth Raven Tinuviel."

Malassuil tidied up the grave, but Morghan walked off to follow Halasian...

The wood was dripping madly as the trees tried to shed the rain, but more would take its place. The sound was steady and at times deafening. Morghan found Halasian standing by an oak, just staring. She came up next to him, silently. He looked at her and could see the woman who he had seen on the road that fateful day years before. Much had happened with and to him, but so too her. Her eyes spoke much in the absence of words. He felt it, and looked away. He kept his walls high and strong. Two people had gotten inside them, and they only fir a time. One is dead, and the other dwells in Rivendell with his two young children. He did not know what had become of his eldest son, last seeing him about the time he had last seen this woman who stands now next to him. He turned suddenly and placed his hands on her wet shoulders,

"I could not save her! I could not save any of them!"

He released her and she stepped back. Soon Anna and Malassuil approached. Halasian went on in a ramble...

I only wanted to do good, but the evil ways I use have caused me to fall out of favour. I cannot redeem myself. I can only follow in the steps laid out for me, be they those of my own choosing."

Halasian looked at the others, and thought of slaying them.. all three. He could do it, though the Ranger could be a challenge. No! It was words of Malebranche ... he would not fall again into that darkness. The Bloodcrows would die.. one by one, until he himself would die. It was his life now, and he could not draw others into his web. But Morghan was connected. He could feel it. What was it about her that drew him to the thoughts of the Bloodcrows? She stood there, oblivious to the rain that soaked her, staring at him. So to now was Anna and Malassuil. Halasian did not care. He looked at Morghan, and said,

"What is it that tells me that you know a bloodcrow? Why do I feel it?"

Malassuil stepped forward and it looked like he and Halasian would finish what was started earlier....
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Postby Arassuil » Thu Sep 02, 2010 5:25 pm

"You saying this lady had dealings with the bloodcrows?"

Malassuil said as he stepped between them. He would not allow this renegade to besmirch the honour of the lady. He went on,

"How can you say the Lady Morghan has dealings with them? You, sir, I understand had dealings with the Bloodcrows, and I would suspect that you may even be working in their interest now!"

Halasian stepped back. Yes, he was in the ranks of the Bloodcrows once. He tried to know all there was of them, but they were secretive. One only could find out in this way that which was known only to the local group. Very little tied the groups together except for the one or two that were considered high commanders. Some names he remembered from the rare occasion when more than one group gathered, but the days were painful to him. He finally spoke, looking into Malassuils eyes,

"Yes, I had been with them, and I have gotten out on my own accord. Few leave once in, unless its by fire or burial. Yet I know the feeling I get when I am near them, and I have a bit of that feeling now. The Lady Morghan knows Bloodcrows, even if she does not remember, or recall them, or never knew they were. We faced then, years ago not far from here. I am sure they watch this inn, for it had fallen into disrepair since those days. I am sure the Lady Morghan will speak of it, and the sooner the better I say."

Malassuil drew his sword, but Anna stepped between them. She said,

"You distress the lady. I feel it. Her mind is pondering much now. She will speak of it when she sees fit. Come with me now Halasian, there is something I wish to show you."

Anna said as she took the old rangers hand, and they went down the track until they were out of site. Malassuil turned and asked Lady Morghan,

"Shall we return to the inn and get out of this rain? We can discuss this quietly there."
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Re: ~ The Mists of Eriador ~

Postby Morghan~Lachlan » Fri Jan 18, 2019 10:15 pm

~
"Shall we return to the inn and get out of this rain? We can discuss this quietly there."

Morghan nodded slowly lost in thought. She was oh so weary and the throbbing in her temples had gotten worse as she half listened to Malassuil and Halasían and the words and anger that had passed between them. She turned to walk back to the Inn. Malassuil followed a few steps behind.

‘I could not save her! I could not save any of them!’ Those words kept twirling in her mind over and over again, the anguish in his eyes and struck a hidden cord buried deeply within her heart. Tears started streaming down her face. Woodenly she walked up the first step of the porch to the Inn, and then collapsed, burying her face with her hands. She sat there weeping…tears for Raven, the women who had befriended her, tears for Halasían who was lost and saw no way back for himself. Her tears were also for Courtney and for Anna who had lost her beloved sister. The tears were also for herself; for the events of the night had brought a flood of memories and almost overwhelmed her.

In two quick steps Malassuil was by her side. He knelt. “Are you hurt?” he asked with concern. When there came no repose, he wasn’t sure what to do and just stayed by her side waiting.

Her breath came in gasps and she could barely draw a breath. A low moan escaped from her lips and shudders racked her frame and she was still. Malassuil thought for a moment she had collapsed completely and was about to pick her up and carry her inside.

As his arms reached around to pick her up, Morghan gulped in a deep breath of air and shuddered again. “Leave me be,” she whispered hoarsely. Malassuil complied, leaning back on his heels, watching her closely.

Soon Morghan raised her head, trying to wipe the tears from her face with the sleeve of her shirt. It was wet from the rain and did little good. Hand shaking, she reached out to Malassuil. He put out a hand and clasped Morghan’s. Slowly she rose, and let him lead her inside.

The fire had burned low in the hearth. Malassuil pulled a chair close to the fire and Morghan sat down. Malassuil banked up the remaining logs before adding a few more. She hadn’t said another word and Malassuil saw her watching the flames as they began to take out of the newly added dry wood. He rose and left Morghan alone by the fire.

It seemed like a long time that Morghan stared at the flames but in truth it was only a few moments before Malassuil was back, kneeling at her side. “Drink this,” he said quietly putting a mug of something warm in her hand. She barely tasted what she drink, just knew whatever it was warm, though it burned like fire once it slid down her throat.

“I could not save her! I could not save any of them!” Morghan spoke in a whisper, mostly to the fire though she knew Malassuil was still beside her. “That’s what Halasían said.” She looked at the fire again and was silent for a time. “And neither could I.” Her eyes were cast down when she spoke those last few words and she was quiet again. The flames crackled and spit in the hearth, until finally Morghan looked up at them. Then she continued talking in the same quiet whisper.

Slowly the story unfolded from Morghan’s lips of the time she had met Halasían those years past. The death of Courtney, meeting Halasían with his wife and son in the forest. And then she mentioned the Blood Crows…

‘So Halasían was right!’ Malassuil thought as he sat back on his heels. He didn’t want to interrupt the flow of words from Morghan, for if she stopped now, she might not continue. He didn’t understand her words so far as the story went. Why had she said, ‘And nether could I?’ Did she mean it was her fault the knife she had thrown did not kill the Blood Crow who had ambushed them? He didn’t think so and quietly he leaned forward again.

Morghan took another drink from the mug, letting the strong drink slide down her throat as if it lent her the courage to continue.

“I was afraid.”

“After what happened in the forest with Halasían and his family I was afraid to be alone. I stayed for some length of time with an older woman east of Bree. It took more than a year to get over the fear. Finally I became more confident again and moved back to my hut by the marshes. Sometimes I felt as I was watched by someone unseen, but I wasn’t afraid. There was no feeling of foreboding or danger. It felt safe, safe enough to travel, for it had been long since I had left the area. Mrs. Pritchard, the woman who I had stayed with earlier had asked if I would travel with her to visit her son in The Angle.”

A wan smile crossed her face as she related her memories of the trip, but that soon faded. For soon after the arriving in the Angle, the farm where Mrs. Pritchard’s son lived was raided by a party of orcs. “Mrs. Pritchard was killed during the raid, but her son, his wife and young child were captured as was I. There were more captives than just us we soon found out when we reached their camp; near thirty or so from other remote villages and farms. We stayed in the camp, for how long I don’t know, the days blurred one into the next endlessly. The seasons changed, it was growing colder when we were told that the camp would be moved. The marched us south for many leagues, people died during that time…too many…too many…” her voice faded and she took another drink from the mug.

Malassuil heard a faint noise coming from outside. Anna and Halasían were returning. He rose quietly and went toward the door waiting for them. As they neared, he motioned for silence and then returned quietly to Morghan’s side.

“I wanted to help the people, but the orcs would not let me and I had no herbs for the weakness and sickness that slowly spread through our group. Finally, after many days and long leagues, after crossing a river, the Bruinen I think, we reached their destination. It was some a city of ruins, Ost-in-Edhil I learned later. There we were set to work digging, for what I do not know. Each day our numbers dwindled, the march had left us weak and ill. Then the orcs grew agitated, working us through the night for days. We soon learned why. Their leader was coming. Mrs. Pritchard’s son’s wife died, the child had died earlier, and when she died the son was nearly mad with grief. His name was Caleb….”

“Their leader was the same one who had attacked Halasían’s family in the Chetwood. My fear knew no bounds when I realized who he was. I feared he might recognize me. The next night there was a minor disturbance, some of the orcs sometimes fought among themselves and this was one of those times. I took a chance when the orcs who was guarding the area I was digging in left his post to get a closer look at what was going on. I ran, ignoring the look from Caleb who was near me. I was afraid and left him without looking back. I didn’t save him, I ran to save myself.” She bowed her head and tears began to fall again, this time for Michrel, she knew now the haunted look in his eyes, and for Halasían, for like him she too felt there was nothing she could do to redeem herself.

~
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Re: ~ The Mists of Eriador ~

Postby Morghan~Lachlan » Fri Jan 18, 2019 10:19 pm

This is replacing a double post from earlier. :)

~Rhudaur~

There was confusion amongst the prisoners when the orcs guarding then started to drop. Where were the arrows coming from? They milled around for a few seconds before one the men grabbed another and started to run.

As soon as Olben cleared the brush he guessed the elves intention; to create chaos during the battle between the two tribes of orcs. Minyair and Feredir were both yards ahead of Olben. Quickly he changed course, heading for the scattering group of prisoners. He slashed at the upraised arm of one of the wounded orcs holding an axe, and not waiting to see the damage inflicted, making for a young boy standing stiff and frightened. Scooping him up with his free arm he said loud enough for the other prisoners who seemed too confused to know what to do. “Follow, quickly.”

The two Southrons were both occupied fighting the orcs led by the fierce Urk-hai. The sound of clashing weapons, cries of triumph and shrieks of despair filled the air as Olben hurried the prisoners along. He wasn’t sure how long the two elves would be able to hold off any that followed or even where they were for sure. His first thought was getting the prisoners away.

He hurried through the trees, urging the prisoners on. The young boy still clung to his neck; he could feel him sobbing quietly against his shoulder. Time passed while Olben pushed them forward, the noise from the battle had faded and he heard no sound of pursuit yet but still he didn’t stop. But he would have to soon though, some of the prisoners were stumbling, one fell but was helped to his feet by another. Olben slowed the pace a little, all the time listening for any sound from behind. Minyair appeared at his shoulder. “Make for the ruins at Dol Aglardin. It is not far now.” He told Olben before quickly fading back.

Shifting the boy in his arm Olben hissed loud enough to catch the attention of most of the prisoners. They stopped and he could tell they welcomed the rest. Some started to drop to the ground. “No rest yet, a safer place is not far.” He spoke quietly scanning the group, most were men though there were a couple of women and the rest were men and older boys. A few of them nodded, too tired to speak and the ones who and sat on the ground wearily rose to their feet.

The pace Olben set was brisk and he hoped that everyone would be able to keep up, but the going became rougher as they gradually left the cover of trees behind. The ground grew rough as they traversed hills; Olben tried to keep them in the ravines and vales the higher they climbed but it was harder going and even the weather was starting to go against fast travel; the wind was growing stronger in the open stretches bringing with it darker grey clouds from the heights of the Misty’s. Olben kept one eye on the sky; soon there would be rain which would help to erase any signs of their trail.

Finally after about an hour of hard travel Olben sighted the ruins in the distance. He called a halt. “That is where we will shelter”, he pointed eastward. “But we must hurry. The last part is over open land and we will be easier to spot from a distance.”

At last they made it to the ruins of the old ruins of the Kingdom of Rhudaur. There wasn’t much left of Dol Aglardin. Only one of the three towers that had originally stood atop the hill was still standing plus a few crumbling walls. The door to the tower had lost since fallen away and only a few rotten timbers clung to the frame. Olben handed the child he still carried over to one of the men as they filed past him into the tower. “For now rest, I will be back soon.”

When Olben returned to the tower, most of the group was laid out on the dirt floor of the tower in small clusters. The child he had carried lay asleep across the lap of one of the women. A lean man, dressed in a plain homespun tunic and woolen breeches slowly stood and approached, him. “We cannot thank you enough…” he held out a dirt stained hand. “My name is Jem.”

“No need, you can give your thanks later, when you are back safely in your homes. For now, can you tell me what happened?”

Jem told Olben that he was a woodsman who lived in the eastern edge of the Trollshaws, the rest were from a small settlement not far from where he lived. The raid had surprised them all, though there had been rumors of late of roving bands of orcs further north. Clans of Hillmen from the Ettenmooors were moving south he had heard, but they had thought themselves safe.

Olben nodded and then unslung a pack from his back. There wasn’t much by way of food in it, a small hard loaf of brown bread, a couple of black sausages plus a few withered apples found on an ancient apple tree outside the tower. He handed the pack to Jem telling him to pass them out to his people. Night would soon be upon them and with it the growing danger of more orcs roaming the area.

There were the remains of crumbling stone steps leading to the higher reaches of the tower and Olben carefully climbed them to the upper reaches. He would keep watch for the two elves and any others during the night.

A few hours before daybreak Feredir arrived at Dol Aglardin. Soundlessly he entered the tower, he didn’t want to wake those sleeping on the floor, and made his way up the steps. Telling him that Minyair stood watch outside, he talked with Olben until the sky outside lighted to a dull grey. Light rain was falling outside when Olben and Feredir descended to the lower floor.

Jem and a few other men who were awake gathered near Olben, warily keeping an eye on Feredir. They all had the fierce, proud blood of Hillmen mixed in their blood and trusted not the elvish people. When Olben told him of the intention to lead them to Imladris, Jem and the others stubbornly, yet quietly refused, asking instead if Olben would help them to return to their homes. There were still people left in Brockenridge, families and friends who had hid or fled during the raid. They wished to find them. After arguing for a few minutes Olben reluctantly agreed telling Jem they would leave in an hour. Then he went outside with Feredir so that they could survey the landscape and speak with Minyair.

The hour came and Olben and the elves started the trek to Brochenridge. It rained all that day and the next. There were no further signs of orcs and the journey ended during late in the afternoon of the third day. Minyair and Feredir left the next morning after helping search the area for any people still in hiding. They would return to Imladris to inform Elrond of the events and deliver a message to Durham to meet him here.

Olben stayed and met with all the survivors of the raid. He advised them to leave the area, but when they stubbornly refused he met set up a meeting with a group of the men and advised them to set about putting defenses in place. He drew a rough sketch of a watch tower with a wall where the people might gather for safety and explained how sending out regular patrols would give them an early warning of danger.

~
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Morghan~Lachlan
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Re: ~ The Mists of Eriador ~

Postby Morghan~Lachlan » Mon Feb 11, 2019 8:19 am

~
~Rhudaur~

Suddenly the wind picked up. It tore at their cloaks and the rain stung their skin. Ewen paused, holding up his hand and signalling for silence. He stood for a minute head cocked, listening.“I hear something…”

Though the wind was blowing Ewen could hear the faint sound of metal clinking. Quickly he signaled for Eradan and Elenien to take cover. The pair hurried a short way behind him and took cover behind a scrubby clump of brush while he crouched behind a nearby fallen tree. It wasn’t long before a band or orcs le by a large hulking Uruk-hai came around an outcropping of rock.

They were a ragged group, battle weary by the look of them A few were leaning against their comrades as they limped along through the rain and their body bore the look of wounds that were still wet with fresh blood. Ewen signaled to Eradan and his partner to stay hidden. They would let them pass, for though the orcs were obviously tired Ewen knew their numbers were still more than the three of them could handle.

Crouching further down behind the fallen tree trunk Ewen watched as the orcs slowly filed by. He waited until he was sure there were no stragglers before slipping back to where Eradan and Elenien were hidden. “It will be dark soon and this rain doesn’t look to let up soon. I’m going to follow them and find out which way they will head after leaving the valley.” Eradan nodded and started to stand but Ewen stopped him. “No, you and Elenien stay here and wait my return. I won’t be gone long.” He cast a glance at the hillside; there were tumbled outcroppings of rock a few hundred paces above them. “You should find better shelter up there from the rain plus be able to hear any movement from below. I will be back before dawn.” After a few more instructions Ewen noiselessly slipped into the gathering darkness and rain.

It was a few hours before dawn when Ewen returned. A light mist was falling, the heavier rains from during the night having ended. His dark hair hung in wet strands around his face as he ducked beneath the low overhanging rock where Eradan and Elenien had taken refuge. Eradan was awake, having taken the second watch, while Elenien slept curled up under her cloak against the inner wall of rock. Quietly Ewen told Eradan that the orcs had kept marching through the night, a sometimes slow, but always steady, not stopping to eat or rest. Their direction was north by northeast and he had followed them for as long as he could and still make in back before dawn. “It will be no use to try and catch up with them,” he said finally. “By the time we leave they could have changed direction and the rain will have washed away any sign. But with luck, if we continue traveling through this valley, we may come upon the site of their battle and be able to find out more.”

Eradan agreed and crawled over to where Elenien lay and woke her while Ewen stretched out under the shelter for a few minutes. They each quietly ate from the leftover provisions gathered back at the Inn before breaking camp and leaving. The sky was a still a sullen dark grey promising more rain as they set out on the trail.

The hours passed as they continued through the rain. There was little sound except for the constant splatter of rain on the sodden ground for even the birds seemed to have taken shelter in the scrub brush and few trees that scattered the rough land. Once Ewen thought he spied a wolf standing at the top of the ridgeline watching them but it was only a brief sighting and he saw no more signs of them. Sometime past noon Elenien had spied a rabbit and had quickly brought it down. At least they would have fresh game when they stopped for the night.

They valley finally opened up onto a rolling woodland of old oaks and breech trees. The going was easier here for the trees afforded them some relief from the constant rain though theirs leaves were withering and starting to fall. By late afternoon they came across what they guessed was the battle sight of the orcs spread among the trees. It was a gruesome sight even for those accustomed to fighting for the orcs had brutally savaged the bodies of their enemies as they lay upon the ground; body parts were scattered everywhere and there were signs that wolves were at the scene shortly before they had arrived.

Ewen stopped to examine one of the bodies. By the clothing he guessed it was a man, maybe a Southron by the pieces of clothing remaining and a knife that lay not far from his body. But the head was missing and one of the arms had been torn from the body; from a wolf he guessed by the look of it. He felt a pricking on the back of his neck; they were being watched. Quickly he rose and spoke tersely to the pair of rangers. “We must leave quickly, soon it will be dark and I have a feeling the wolves that were feeding here are still close.” The pair nodded and they hastened through the trees.

Ewen changed course as they left the carnage behind, heading in a south easterly direction from the battle site.
~
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