OOC - Legacy Prequel: The Ranger & The Shieldmaiden

Writing is a passion many people experience after reading Tolkien's works. Come here to discuss and share your experiences with writing.

OOC - Legacy Prequel: The Ranger & The Shieldmaiden

Postby elora » Thu Jul 14, 2016 11:04 pm

I know, you thought I was joking. Right? Must have, for everyone who knows me in passing knows empty threats are not my style.

Legacy has concluded, with both authors content that the number of unfinished, dangling threads is pleasingly realistic (and not in the least tortuous). Still, we are not yet done with the characters you met along the twisting way. And so, we have this prequel. In it, you will meet a number of Black Company members before the Black Company was a Company. Or Black. Familiar faces include:

    Hanasian
    Videgavia
    Frea & Folca
    Mecarnil

If you enjoyed these characters, then we hope you will enjoy a glimpse into what they were like before the Black Company. Before, even, the Fourth Age (hence, no Rosmarin or Lochared as they're not even twinkles in their parent's eyes yet). Not too far before the Fourth Age, though, for this tale commences in the closing stages of the War of the Rings. We kick off at Dunharrow, no less, with two new central characters to guide us along.

Our chief characters are Berendil "the Fair" - a Ranger of the North and close friend to a younger Hanasian and slightly younger Mecarnil. Our other protagonist is Freja Fireborn - a Shieldmaiden of no small renown (in Rohan, that is, which is the centre of the universe and the best place in the world as far as Freja is concerned). I know. Predictable, given the title. Still, there is something to be said for calling a spade a spade.

I will place Freja's character description below. As you will have come to expect if you are familiar with Legacy, there may be a touch of tinkering with the backstories of cannonical characters. Not too much, mind. Just enough to anchor our protagonists firmly in their setting. Devout purists, look away lest your heads explode. You have been warned. All liability is therefore your own.

Huzzah!
User avatar
elora
Ranger of the North


 
Posts: 3386
Joined: Sun May 13, 2001 4:31 pm
Location: Dancing twixt southern stars
Top

Re: OOC - Legacy Prequel: The Ranger & The Shieldmaiden

Postby elora » Thu Jul 14, 2016 11:40 pm

Character Profile - Freja Fireborn

“They are proud and wilful, but they are true-hearted, generous in thought and deed; bold but not cruel; wise but unlearned, writing no books but singing many songs, after the manner of the children of Men before the Dark Years.”

Aragorn, describing the Rohirrim in the Two Towers as written by Tolkien.


Name: Freja Fireborn

Born: Third Age 2993, Rohan - East Fold

Race: Man - Rohirrim

Height: 5’11”

Build: Like the spear she wields and the warrior she is - tall, lean, strong

Hair: Wine red, a colour unique to the East Fold - caught up in braids of varying weave and width with eight silver rings (torcs of rank) woven through them

Eyes: Startling blue - too blue to be accounted beautiful, according to the menfolk of Rohan

Weapons: Spears are her favoured weapon but not her only. Freja bears a sword that is longer than those customarily found in Rohan - not so long as to be a longsword - as well as a bow. She has daggers too, along with an eponymous shield that she can also use as a weapon if she chooses. It is round, made of reinforced wood with a metal hub and is painted in Rohan's royal style - a field of green featuring a rampant running horse.

Armour: standard issue Shieldmaiden includes a helm (barbute) chain hauberk and hood as well as plate armour. Her cuirass has a reticulated stomacher to enable greater flexibility, a design feature unique to Shieldmaidens, and are modified to suit a female torso. Added to the cuirass are faulds and a culet. On arms there are pauldrons (with shoulder cops), vambrace and gauntletts. On legs, greaves, articulated poleyn and cuisse. Freja is known to adapt her armour for her suituation. What she wears in open combat and cavalry charges (her fiercest love) is quite different to what she will wear in convert contexts.

Garb: Under all that armour and padding, Freja keeps it as simple as possible. She favours cotton and linen (when it can be gotten) tunics and fitted trews that she tucks into her boots. Over that she might throw a cloak. She is rarely anywhere without her wide leather belt. Sometimes she wears it low on her hips and sometimes she wraps it around her waist or even her torso (especially when undertaking bow work).

Personality: Indomitable, bold and daring. Freja rolls through the world as if nothing can stop her. She rarely surrenders and is inclined to take a risk if the gain is worthy. Quick of temper she is quicker still to laughter and does not bear a grudge. Beneath that larger than life sparkle, though, is a steady will of iron and an untarnished streak of fealty and honour. She is fiercely proud of Rohan and even more so of her Shieldmaidens. Whilst Freja can be diligent, steadfast and disciplined, she is by no means sober, dull or grim. She makes friends easily enough but her freedom with her opinion means she makes enemies too. She is generous and competitive.

Skills: Though young, Freja is a gifted warrior who was admitted to the Shieldmaiden ranks early, even by their standards. She has risen steadily and acquitted herself with distinction in her training and later service. She was the youngest initiate to attain the full rank of Shield Maiden in the recorded history of the unit, which commenced when it was formed by Eorl the Young. At the time of the War of the Ring, she has risen to second in command and all believe that she will go on to succeed Captain Eriwyn provided she survives the War itself. She is accounted a master of sword and spear, and is a skilled horsewoman.

History: Freja was born on the wrong side of the blankets, as they say, in the East Fold of Rohan. Her father was none other than the Lord of the Eastern Mark. He had been widowed nearly ten years prior, left childless when his wife had perished in childbirth along with his infant son.

Her father had not remarried, and even if he had of, he would certainly not have married Freja's mother. Her mother was base born, one of a number who travelled in the retinue of one of Rohan's bards. With her striking hair, she had caught Freja's lonely father's eye and one thing had led to another.

Given the illegitimacy of Freja's birth, there was no way her father could acknowledge her as his child. Nor could Freja's mother raise her. She had no independent means to settle down and the bard she served had no desire to add a squalling babe into his retinue.

Somehow, all of this was brought to the attention of the King no less. Theoden found it intolerable to leave a Daughter of the Mark houseless, irrespective of which side of the blankets she had arrived on, and so Freja was incorporated into his household at Meduseld when she was still an infant.

Irrepressible from the outset, Freja soon came to be knocking about with none other than the King's young niece. Eowyn and Freja became fast friends, partners in crime and chief conspirators in and about Meduseld in their early years. Eomer, older and away more often, came to be fond of his sister's adopted companion but his relationship was more distant. Theodred too had a distant, warm regard for his father's ward.

Freja enjoyed a relatively secure and comfortable childhood as a result. She had no idea who her mother and father was and no inclination to discover it. All of that changed when Freja decided she wanted to join the Shieldmaidens with Eowyn. The nature of Freja's birth came back to haunt her. She was painfully young, no more than 8 years old, but the shame was as shocking to her as it was painful. Still, Eowyn stood fast by her side, ever true and always at the ready to speak in her defence.

Ultimately, Freja's father intervened and spoke in favour of Freja's admittance to the Shieldmaidens - likely so that the resultant scandal was quickly set to rest again. It was the only thing the man had done for her. Freja's feelings towards him were uncertain at first. Still, quick to set wrongs aside, she began to write him annually a year. She figured she might as well report on her progress so that he might know she was doing something with it. Of course, her father did not answer nor acknowledge his illegitimate daughter's correspondence.

Freja blossomed in the Shieldmaidens. They harnessed all of her energy and creativity and mischievousness and shaped it, polishing and honing her into a true Daughter of the Shield. She began as a novice with but two braids in her hair at the age of 8. By the age of 17, Freja attained the highest level of the Shieldmaidens and her hair remained braided entirely thereafter.

Eowyn, though, was prevented from joining her. Though Eowyn completed her training, she was called back to attend the King. She chafed at this, as did Freja, but at first they found a way to make it work. Freja continued to train with Eowyn whenever her friend could get away. It was not the same as before, but somehow the two made the best of it. When Eowyn was not attending the King and Freja was not occupied with her duties, they were invariably found in each other's company - often laughing at some jest or another.

This changed when Grima Wormtongue succeeded in driving the Shieldmaidens out of Meduseld. Eager to separate Theoden from such a potent and watchful force, he was swift to dispatch the Shieldmaidens into the distant East Fold at the earliest opportunity. Freja was forced to leave with the other Shieldmaidens. It was a sad moment for Edoras too. The dispatch of the Shieldmaidens marked the first significant move by Grima Wormtongue to weaken and undermine Theoden's throne. He would not end there, of course.

Freja found her new post dull. Aside from the occasional raid out of Rhun, there was little to break the relentless boredom. Then Wormtongue resumed the act of sending tributes to Mordor. Again and again Freja and her sisters saw the finest steeds Rohan could raise, beautiful ebony creatures of long clean limbs, sent to the East.

That prompted Freja to hatch a plan. It was her only transgression, which is remarkable in an of itself given Freja's love for mischief. For all of that, it was ambitious and bold - a true Freja Fireborn initiative. Working covertly, without approval or permission from Captain Eriwyn, Freja successfully intercepted one of the tributes and stole the magnificent steeds away.

Unfortunately, though, Freja had stolen horses from none other than the King himself. No matter where they were going or what use they were being put to, Captain Eriwyn could not overlook such a serious transgression. It was simply too big of a scandal. Under Wormtongue's behest, Eriwyn was forced to demonstrate some sort of action. Rather than send Freja to Meduseld as Wormtongue demanded, where she would surely be hanged as a horse thief, she banished the youngest Shieldmaiden north, into the wildlands that stood between Rohan and Dale.

First separated from Eowyn and then the Shieldmaidens, this was a serious blow to Freja. Still, she could not bring herself to apologise. She stood by her actions to the last. Captain Eriwyn sent her north with one of the steeds she had stolen, a fine gelding. In this way, Eriwyn expressed tacit agreement with Freja's intentions. After all, Wormtongue was no friend to the Shieldmaiden. In time, word out of Meduseld grew increasingly grim.

Freja served three years in banishment, from 3013 to 3016. In that time, her skills were shaped to the sort of combat familiar to the Rangers of the North though she had little liking for it. Freja much preferred open battle, but a cavalry of one in a forest was of little use in her new surrounds. Naturally, she formed friendships with the Men of Dale she encountered, including one dour individual named Videgavia. Strange though as she seemed to them for a woman, they were glad to have her sword and spear with them. In her turn, Freja was glad to have some company, even if they weren't her sisters.
Happy as she was when she received word that she could return, Freja felt some regret at leaving those she had encountered in the north.

Upon return, Captain Eriwyn did not delay. Out of banishment, Eriwyn gave Freja not one torc but eight, all at once. Freja was stunned to find herself placed as second in command to the Captain herself. Overwhelming as that was, it was soon overshadowed by her discovery of how bad it was at Meduseld.

She wrote, urgently and regularly, to Eowyn. However her letters went unanswered, just like her annual letters to her father had. In any event, Freja had little time to brood over the import of this. The Shieldmaidens were hard pressed in the East Fold by the time of Freja's return in 3016. Attacks out of Rhun increased in number and became both bold and particularly vicious. This, they could manage but they could not spare spears to address the threat that appeared to be emanating from Isenguard. Caught between Rhun and Saruman's treachery, the Shieldmaidens were thrown into a desperate battle that only got worse when the Easterlings decided they were no longer content to make off with livestock and fired crops.

At that point, the Shieldmaidens ranks began to be whittled away. It was impossible to train enough to keep up with casualties. The risk that the Shieldmaidens would be wiped out became increasingly dire. Still, they did not set aside the fight. Not even for their own preservation.

By late 3018, Freja and her sisters pursued a vicious swathe of Easterling attacks steadily north. Eriwyn, her captain, suspected they were been lured into something far more dangerous and she feared that it would prove the end of the Shieldmaidens entirely. For this reason, the Captain split the Shieldmaidens into two. One force she took with her north. The other she left under Freja's command in the East Fold, defending the eastern fences and holding Rohan's borders against foes attacking on two fronts.

Somehow, likely through sheer force of will, the force under Freja's command held. Word reached her at the end of March in 3019 that a great battle had occurred at Helm's Deep in which Rohan had prevailed over a mighty assault from Isenguard itself. This was the first clear evidence Freja had that Isenguard was indeed a foe. Little word of any sort had been had out of Meduseld for months by then.

Freja resolved to set out north, locate Eriwyn and demand that they repair to Meduseld where the Shieldmaiden's truly belonged. News of Theoden's muster caught up with Freja her before she could reach Eriwyn. Consequently, Freja divided her force in twain once again. She left a force upon the Eastern borders to hold off the vicious Easterling attacks and took every last spear she had left, from novices through to the handful of masters with her, south to Dunharrow in answer to the King's call.

She is in Dunharrow when the Grey Company sweeps into camp and her life on the evening of March 7.
Last edited by elora on Mon Oct 03, 2016 5:37 pm, edited 3 times in total.
User avatar
elora
Ranger of the North


 
Posts: 3386
Joined: Sun May 13, 2001 4:31 pm
Location: Dancing twixt southern stars
Top

Re: OOC - Legacy Prequel: The Ranger & The Shieldmaiden

Postby elora » Sun Jul 24, 2016 7:27 pm

Mea culpa - never set a tale in a well documented period of cannon without referring extensively to the Tale of Years. :roll:

There has been some substantial editing to ensure the flow of events is consistent with what was set out by JRRT himself.

EDIT: and some more substantial editing to correct the dates in Freja's profile :oops: :roll:
Last edited by elora on Mon Sep 19, 2016 10:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.
User avatar
elora
Ranger of the North


 
Posts: 3386
Joined: Sun May 13, 2001 4:31 pm
Location: Dancing twixt southern stars
Top

Re: OOC - Legacy Prequel: The Ranger & The Shieldmaiden

Postby elora » Mon Aug 08, 2016 6:34 pm

And the tally of known Legacy Characters continue...with Hanasian rising to some prominence following Halbarad's death...Mecarnil mysteriously disappearing (up to who knows what - could be benign, then again, Arnorian politics are rarely benign)...and a shout out to Lord Bereth and Lady Verawyn (Rosmarin's doomed parents).

Alas, war allows little time for our protagonists (Berendil & Freja) to tarry...
User avatar
elora
Ranger of the North


 
Posts: 3386
Joined: Sun May 13, 2001 4:31 pm
Location: Dancing twixt southern stars
Top

Re: OOC - Legacy Prequel: The Ranger & The Shieldmaiden

Postby elora » Sun Sep 18, 2016 4:25 am

Hooray for a young Videgavia, always formidable, never really good at befriending people though he does count Freja as one of his few friends...to point that he bestows upon her one of his jealously coveted long knives....poor ole Vid...

No friend of Vorda, who likely resents Videgavia's position in Freja's regard and his presumption...and no friend of Berendil either, for entire different reasons. Ah...rivalry...where would we be without it.

:P
User avatar
elora
Ranger of the North


 
Posts: 3386
Joined: Sun May 13, 2001 4:31 pm
Location: Dancing twixt southern stars
Top

Re: OOC - Legacy Prequel: The Ranger & The Shieldmaiden

Postby elora » Mon Sep 19, 2016 9:03 pm

Ill Gotten Gains (How Videgavia and Freja Fireborn first met)


3013, III – Dale, February



Videgavia squinted through the incessant drizzle, his bones so sodden and chilled that he doubted they would ever warm again. The land he looked upon from the edges of the dripping trees around him was scrubbed clean by yesterday’s pounding rain. They rolled, soggy and uneven, clear into Rohan from here, and they appeared empty. Not even the Easterlings were inclined to venture out in dismal weather like this. Just why he was here now, water steadily dripping onto his hood and sliding down his back, he didn’t know.

No…he did know, he just didn’t want to pick over why. Not his fault people were so damned difficult to get along with. If he’d told them once, he’d said it a thousand times: no one touches his knives. No one. This, perhaps, is why he was largely friendless. Taciturn, anti social, churlish, there were any number of ways his peers described him when he happened to be in the company of others. Preferable as solitude was, though, company usually meant a roof, a dry bed and respite from the incessant, creeping damp.

He brushed a hand across his brow to flick away water and debated with himself the merits of returning. They’d want an apology even though he’d done nothing wrong. He’d not even hurt the man…badly. As he considered that his knuckles popped. No, Videgavia thought, he was still too angry. Best to stay away a while longer in the infernal rain. With the summer season on its way the Easterlings would be back again and he’d prefer to deal with them with people that were not fixing to stick one of his own knives between his shoulder blades. If at all possible.

A frustrated sigh pushed out of him and he scanned the borders a final time before he pulled back into the trees in search of a relatively sheltered place to pass the night. He’d only taken a few steps, though, before something came to his attention. Voices…no a voice…female…highly agitated…with a talent for creative cursing. He turned about again and returned to the treeline. Still, nothing seemed to move in the borderlands and the woman’s voice had dropped away.

Videgavia frowned as he curled his fingers around a knife hilt, and squinted suspiciously out at the drizzle. Another brief burst, Rohirric. Definitely Rohirric…and then gone again. Not from the forest though. He crouched and drew his knife proper. Rohan was not Dale’s foe but all sorts of brigands called these borderlands home. From her turn of phrase, the woman was not some lost Daughter of the Mark. He’d heard cleaner mouths on Dunlenders.

Then he caught movement….not a woman but a horse and oh! What an animal! Even from this distance it was clear that this fine beast was one of the Méaras. They were different from other horses, more powerful, taller, cleaner lines. This one was one of the finest he had ever seen. Ebon black, perfectly made and…riderless. Odd to find one of the Méaras wondering alone. Rohan’s king guarded his royal herd jealously.

The creature picked its way unhurried as Videgavia’s thoughts spun. Would be irresponsible to leave an animal like this wandering the borderlands and forests of Dale. And, possibly, there might be a reward in returning it to the royal herd…a king’s ransom as they say. Videgavia’s sour mood was relieved instantly as he considered this. With a purse full of gold and silver, no telling where he could go. A man had options when he had coin to rub together.

The Daleman stood, stowed his long knife and left the cover of the trees. What seemed relatively straightforward soon proved to be anything but. Firstly, the sodden land was treacherous and slippery. He covered in mud and scratches from the spiny shrubs that prevailed in the borderlands. Then there was the horse. It had absolutely no intention of meekly accepting the Daleman’s company. Thirdly, there was the issue that the beast was not alone or riderless at all. The woman he’d heard swearing a thick streak of obscenity was little impressed with Videgavia’s attempts to steal her horse from her.

Understandably, given she had fallen off it, become tangled and by the looks of her had been dragged for a good league before Videgavia’s arrival. The gelding’s attempts to elude Videgavia did little to improve her humour, already foul. Lastly, and perhaps most notably, there was the fact that the woman was obviously a Shieldmaiden and not just a novice or hapless initiate at that. Her hair, sodden and muddy, was entirely braided and she was furious. Even Easterlings thought twice about directly engaging with a furious Shieldmaiden.

Cursing, snarling and spitting like a cornered wolf by the time he finally managed to bring the gelding under control, the Shieldmaiden demanded, ”YOU! FREE ME NOW BEFORE I-“

“Before what, exactly?”
he returned, doing his best to keep his voice steady.

She had blazing blue eyes that she narrowed at him and had her legs not been entirely snarled she probably would have killed him with her bare hands. She would have had to, given her sword and spears and shield were all still attached to her empty saddle. And while he had knives, she’d probably suceed.

The best course for his immediate survival, however, was to not provoke the woman further. He drew one his long knives, she spat a series of blistering invectives about what would happen if he tried to use it upon on her and severed the strap that had entangled her so. No sooner had he done that was she moving.

The Shieldmaiden rolled, her speed and strength remarkable given she’d just been dragged behind a horse into Dale. Momentum carried her to her feet and within an instant she had a vicious looking dagger gripped in her own hand. Whilst her ankles were still entangled, Videgavia realised that she’d throw herself at him and not in a good way if he didn’t do something. Carefully, oh so carefully, he set down his long knife on the churned ground and stepped back from it, hands spread wide so that she could see they were empty.

”Keep a hold of that horse,” she said, voice tense around the iron ring of command, ”I don’t want it, or you, wandering off.”

Eyes narrowed, she watched him comply, then crouched and set to work freeing her ankles. She was quick with her knife, efficient and assured and soon stood unencumbered entirely. Tall as a spear she was though the colour of her hair was impossible to tell under all that mud. As she checked over her gear for damage, her eyes flicked back to him constantly, sizing him up.

”Never knew the Shieldmaidens were gifted with Méaras,” Videgavia said.

She sniffed at that, uncorked her water bag with her teeth and then rinsed the mud from her mouth several times.

”Never knew Dalemen had fallen to horse thievery,” she answered, re-stoppering her water bag and returning it to her belt.

Videgavia shrugged, ”Never met a Shieldmaiden who couldn’t ride her own horse before.”

Her eyes seared into him for a moment and then she did the most extraordinary thing. She tipped back her head, turned her face to the drizzle, and laughed. Fulsome, delighted, entirely improper. Wicked, like the smile that flickered on her face after her laughter passed.

”Fair point,” she allowed and then swooped onto the longknife he had set down.

Videgavia’s teeth ground as she turned it over briefly, ”I think I’ll hang onto this for now.”

No one touched his knives! Somehow, he didn’t know how, she guessed that she had touched on a nerve for she looked up at him to gauge his reaction. He scowled at her but she was unperturbed. Short of wresting it away from her, all he could do was watch her stow it through her belt and wait. She moved to the other side of the horse next, checking over the saddle and kit. Then she mounted, swinging into the saddle well enough despite the massive height of the gelding. She pulled the reins to her without a word.

”Where do you think you’re going?” he demanded, the question spilling out of him as her horse jerked his handsome head and bridle from his grip.

”Wherever I please, Daleman. What concern is it of yours?”

You’ve got my bloody knife, wench! That’s what he wanted to howl up at the woman that peered down at him from upon high. Her horse danced away, describing a small circle.

”You can’t go riding an animal like that through Dale. Only a matter of time before someone decides they want it for themselves.”

“Like you,”
she observed, mildly amused.

”I could have stolen your horse, yes. I could have cut you free and left you here or I could have slit your throat-“

“You could have tried to…last thing you would have ever done.”


Her arrogance was almost more infuriating than the fact that she was in the process of stealing ONE OF HIS KNIVES!

”It will be nightfall soon. You camp in the open…” he spread his hands and shrugged, ”You’re on your own here, Shieldmaiden. No one to mount the watch nor guard the pickets. No sisters at your back.”

“Why do you care?”

“Because I want my bloody knife back! You get yourself robbed, they’ll probably take it and then I’m chasing it all over Dale.”


She lifted a brow and drew his knife out to study it, ”It’s just a knife…an ordinary one at that.”

“You clearly have no idea what you’re talking about.”


At that she lifted a brow and leant on her pommel, ”A Shieldmaiden knows more about knives and daggers at the age of 10 than one of you blackguards ever grasps in an entire lifetime spent skulking between your trees.”

Despite her words, though, she let his longknife drop to the sodden ground. Videgavia did not delay in reclaiming it. As he did so, the woman studied the dark forest that loomed to the north east. With his knife returned, Videgavia no longer had any concern about what she did or where she went. He gave her no further thought as he strode away, disappearing into the trees without further word nor a backwards glance.

Night closed swiftly and finding shelter proved difficult. Videgavia slipped through the darkness in search of somewhere decent. All his usual choices had been washed out or filled with debris from the downpour the day before. There was just one other left that he knew of and if it was ruined, he’d be sleeping in a tree. An unpleasant prospect for more reasons than one. The rain tended to dislodge the smaller denizens of trees. He’d once woken covered in tiny spiders seeking warmth and shelter from him. It had unnerved him so that after the echoes of his shriek had faded, he had resolved to never sleep in a tree after hard rain again.

Odds were, though, he wouldn’t have to. This last shelter was facing south, towards Rohan and away from the northern rain that had ruined everything else. Deep enough to be dry. Good, even, for a fire…and that was exactly what he saw glowing ahead of him in the darkness. Swallowing an oath of his own, he scrambled forward to see who had claimed this last remaining shelter and sure enough, there she was again. Quite comfortable she was too.

She’d removed her armour and her mail. Her gambeson was spread out before a tidy fire to dry, along with her boots, a tunic and trews. At that moment she stood with her back to the fire, barefoot with fresh trews and only that. Her hair was clean, freshly braided too. An extraordinary colour, like wine or spilled blood it was, and then there was the bare, finely muscled expanse of her back. He blinked, startled, and in that instant a fresh tunic unfurled, falling into place over hair and the intricate tattoos that spread up her spine and across her shoulders.

Videgavia swallowed thickly, thoughts scattered. He’d heard about the tattoos, of course. No Shieldmaiden spoke of them, no one was foolish enough to ask her to, but he had never seen them for himself and had never thought he would. Every one was different, he’d heard, but what it signified and when it was done he had no idea. The Shieldmaiden had turned about again, the fire bathing her face. Free of mud, her features were striking both for their appearance and her youth. Eight braids?! She couldn’t be more than twenty years of age. He knew of veterans twice her age that bore only six.

Then he recalled that she had stolen his one last chance of decent shelter for the night. He scowled in the darkness and moved forward, advancing on the stony overhang without any attempt of concealing his approach. Predictably, she greeted him with a spear, wicked point gleaming in the firelight.

”Oh…it’s you,” she said dismissively, lifting the spear out of play, ”What do you want.”

“This is my shelter.”

“Not any more,”
she replied, studying him anew and then shrugging her shoulders beneath her tunic, ”There’s room enough, I suppose, unless you snore. Have you food?”

First his knife, then his shelter and now his food? She gazed at him, spear grounded by one bare foot, and then turned back to her fire, ”I do, if you have need. Not a lot, mind you.”

How could someone so arrogant and haughty be so inclined to laugh at herself and generosity? The woman was an enigma.

”What’s your name?” she asked, back still turned as she rifled through her saddle bags in search of food.

”Videgavia,” he replied as he stepped out of the rain and into the firelight.

She paused, peering at him around one arm, ”Just Videgavia?”

“Videgavia of Dale,”
he supplied, at which she rolled her eyes and returned to her saddlebags.

”Freja Fireborn,” she answered as she dug something out.

She stood, unwrapping what turned out to be a bundle of dried meat, peeled off two long strips. One she set between her own teeth and the other she extended out to him. It was only then that she caught him staring.

”What?” she asked him around the meat clenched between her teeth.

”You are not Freja Fireborn,” he answered.

She shrugged, waggled the strip of meat at him and then returned it the bundle she re-wrapped.

”Suit yourself, Videgavia of Dale.”

“Freja Fireborn is…”

“A Shieldmaiden of Rohan,”
she said, seated herself and nodded over at the armour for emphasis.

She crossed her long legs, bare feet to the fire and wriggled her toes, ”If I’m not Freja, then who am I?”

“Freja Fireborn is protegé to Captain Eriwyn herself!”
Videgavia pointed out.

At that, her cheeks coloured, and she murmured ”Well…not so much right now…”

“Freja Fireborn was the king’s ward.”

“True.”

“You were not the king’s ward,”
he said, recalling very clearly her vocabulary from earlier in the day.

She grinned at him, devious as an imp, ”Excellent! That means it won’t be me that Prince Théodred is wroth with when he discovers his personal rations have been switched out.”

She leant back against her saddle bags, hands behind her head, chewing on her dried meat. Then she extracted it and sat up, ”And it also means that some other Freja got herself banished. Oh, this gets better and better, Videgavia of Dale!”

By now he knew she was mocking him, but he still could not get his head around the fact that Freja Fireborn couldn’t ride her own horse. He crouched, holding his chilled hands out to the fire and then he realised what she had said.

“Banished? You’re banished?”

“Not me, as we’ve established. Some other Shieldmaiden,”
she continued for a moment, twinkle in her blue eyes, but then she sobered, ”Aye, banished until such time as I am called back - which seems unlikely, at this point, to ever.”

“What for?”


Freja, he had to accept that she really was, pushed out an unhappy sigh, ”It’s all Wormtongue’s fault.”

And so out it tumbled. The tributes to Mordor. Her mounting frustration. An ill hatched plan that never could have worked and so didn’t. And though she spun it as though it was all some sort of subterfuge plot for the better of the realm, what it all boiled down to was that Freja had been bored.

”All they had to do was arrest me, return me to Edoras for trial, and Wormtongue would be dead by now.”

“And you executed for horse theft and high treason.”


She shrugged, ”All battles have their price.”

Short of dividing up the night into watches, little else was said. Videgavia opted for the first watch, having not spent part of his day being dragged behind a horse. Freja bedded down without argument, back to the fire and her sword and spear within grasp. Despite her objections to snoring, he found out that she snored. Come the time to swap over, she woke without hesitation or complaint, swiftly took up her weapons and padded out to take up his position.

Morning came grey and overcast but, importantly, dry. Videgavia woke as Freja doused the coals. So much for a spot of tea, he thought. She was already packed, armour and weapons back in place and her stolen horse saddled. Yawning, Videgavia sat up to consider the beast. If it was stolen, why did she have it still? He asked her the question outright and she shrugged at him.

”Eriwyn said Dale would be hard enough as it was without needing to do it all on foot.”

The Shieldmaiden’s Captain was wiser than Freja could understand.

”So, no idea how long you'll be here for?” he asked and she nodded, drew a deep breath and studied the trees. She chewed the inside of her lip.

”What’s your plan? Find a tavern, lay low?”

Freja lifted a shoulder, ”Initially.”

“You know, summer is coming…and with it the raiding season. We could do with a Shieldmaiden, provided you’re capable. A cavalry of one is little use in the forests of Dale,”
inwardly Videgavia congratulated himself on his brilliance. Just imagine the look on the others' faces when he brought them Freja Fireborn!

“Tree skulking is for cowards,” she contemptuously declared, drawing up to her full height and pouring cold water all over his newly hatched plan to re-ingratiate himself.

”Well, given you can’t ride your own horse, I suggest that perhaps you might benefit from a new career. Have you any better options?”

She stared at him hard as he nodded to her and then made off for the trees. Wasn’t long before he heard her following behind him, painfully noisy in her armour and with her giant of a horse. He winced. She had a lot to learn.

”How hard can it be anyway?” she asked.

Videgavia grinned mirthlessly. Really, she shouldn’t ask questions she doesn’t want to know the answers to.
Last edited by elora on Tue Sep 20, 2016 7:44 pm, edited 1 time in total.
User avatar
elora
Ranger of the North


 
Posts: 3386
Joined: Sun May 13, 2001 4:31 pm
Location: Dancing twixt southern stars
Top

Re: OOC - Legacy Prequel: The Ranger & The Shieldmaiden

Postby elora » Mon Sep 19, 2016 10:38 pm

An Honourable End - a tale from the East Fold as the War waxed to its conclusion

3017, III – East Fold, Rohan, August



”SAERA! ANSWER ME! SAERA!”



The rage and fear turned her commander’s voice into thunder. Freja bellowed through the smoke, searching for her, but she could not raise voice to answer for most of her jaw was missing.

The Shieldmaiden lay on her back amongst the fallen. Some were her sisters. Some were the Easterlings that swarmed through the East Fold in ever thicker, vicious packs. She stared up at the sky. Pale blue it had been when the battle had begun but now, between the drifts of smoke, it seemed darker. Perhaps she was dying.

”SAERA!” her commander cried, frantic now.

Fall back, you reckless fool. That’s what she wanted to say. Go, before it is too late, and ride again another day. Seek your vengeance, slake your spears in their blood with my blessing. Do not fall, like me, now. Not now.

The battle was not finished but it would not be long. She knew it. Her commander had to as well. Freja had an implicit knack for such things. An uncanny talent. A one woman army, they joked amongst themselves, prepared to take on the entire world if she had to. If the Easterlings took Freja… no, didn’t bear thinking of. Years invested into their next captain for naught. And they knew, now, what happened to the Shieldmaidens they captured. Please, Saera prayed, let me die before they find me.

But she did not.

Light was failing and her sisters were gone. They had to pull Freja away and Saera could still hear her bitter cursing as they did so. The Easterlings were picking through the dead, harvesting weapons and gear and looking for captives. She could hear them drawing near and she knew what would follow once they found her alive. They preferred them alive. A swarthy face, handsome behind his midnight beard she supposed, blocked her view of the sky. He looked down upon her, impassive and noticed that she lived. Must have seen her pupils dilate. Warmth, sudden, flooded her lower limbs as dread set in. Was he going to do it here? Now?

He crouched, impassive and unhurried, eyes lifted from her to the surrounding field.

”They will come for you,” he said, his Westron thickly accented and quiet, ”I cannot prevent it. When they do, I will claim you. I will…give you an honourable end.”

His dark eyes returned to her for a moment to check she had understood. Saera had, but she didn’t believe a word these men said. Then he nodded, rose to his feet with a grunt and left her lying there. It unfolded exactly as the Easterling had described.

Others found her, chattering and crowing with delight in their strange gibberish. An unholy glee and well she knew why. She had eight braids and she’d not taken her injuries to her back. Few of her sisters felled by these men did, now. They lifted her up and carried her, jolting and ungentle, from the battle field. She passed in and out of consciousness, the pain unbearable. When her senses cleared, she was lying on her back again before a fire. Men were arguing around her, over her…likely about her. Saera could barely move her head but she could see enough from the corner of her eyes to see they had found others.

One of her sisters wept openly, tears glowing in the firelight. The other two had fallen into silence, shocked and ghostly or so she thought until one raised her head to meet her eyes. A ferocious, unbowed will was still alight in that one. Whoever claimed her would find more than he bargained for. She wished the woman fortune. May your spears drink deeply, sister. Take their throats with your teeth if you must.

The debate ended abruptly and men strode forward. The weeping Shieldmaiden, an initiate, cried out in fear as she was pulled to her feet. She lashed out violently, startling the Easterling and turned for the night. Bows snapped and she fell heavily face first, four thick feathered shafts protruded from her back. The man she had eluded spat, displeased at having his sport ruined for the night, and stalked off as his fellows dragged the initiate’s body out of the firelight.

The two silent Shieldmaidens were claimed by the man that had found Saera first. He took each in hand, far more alert and watchful than the last man, and Saera again was lifted from the ground. She lost consciousness almost immediately.

When it returned, she was inside a tent. It was quiet, the light gentle. Where were her other two sisters? As she wondered that, the man that had claimed them came forward. He rubbed his hands clean with a bloodied cloth, calm and not in the least out of breath.

”It was quick,” he said to her, ”I will see them buried, and you, before the night is out. That is your way, no? Earth, rather than cleansing fire?”

Again she didn’t believe him. Not a word. Why would this Easterling take such a risk, and for them? Easterlings hated the Shieldmaidens with particular ferocity and what did they know of honour? When had they become students of their customs?

”Your commander and Captain,” he began and then shook his head as he reconsidered, ”Ah, no matter. You will not be able to deliver them tidings. Know that this…it is not my doing. I find it…abhorrent. If you but stopped tattooing, I could end this practise…”

He shook his head again, ”But you will not. You cannot, and so we are the both reduced to this.”

The Easterling drew his curved knife, the blade notched from its earlier work. Likely her sister’s bodies lay cooling in the tent even now.

”A single blow to the eye is enough. Fast. And I swear to you again, upon my honour, I will not take your skin.”

Useless words to a dead woman, she thought, as he raised his dagger. Saera refused to close her eyes. She fixed them upon the Easterling’s face and inwardly she screamed at him: liar! Savage! Monster! Kil-

Swift, as he promised, Khule noted but his dagger was stuck. It was unpleasant but necessary to remove it from the Shieldmaiden’s face. He had no time to waste, with three bodies to bury and all without his men seeing. If they knew he had not claimed their skins there would be bloodshed again this night.

It was nearly dawn before Khule was done and he’d narrowly avoided detection four times. He made his way back to his tent weary. He’d succeeded tonight, but there would come another night when he would not. The practice of flaying and curing a Shieldmaiden’s skin was rampant now in other units. Impossible for him to stop and so he took what measures he could.

The war looked set to rob them of their very humanity. Glory, wealth and riches. A return of their sacred lands. The righting of ancient wrongs. It had all fallen away and now they were reduced to this. Soon, perhaps this year, maybe the next, his brothers would commence the march south. Perhaps he would join them. No matter whether he went or remained here, he knew that he would see pale leather marked with intricate, swirling tattoos in either place. Prized, much admired, coveted. But there would come a time of reckoning. There always did. And Khule thought it unlikely that those who flayed their captives alive would be accounted anything other than savage beasts.
Last edited by elora on Tue Oct 04, 2016 6:09 am, edited 3 times in total.
User avatar
elora
Ranger of the North


 
Posts: 3386
Joined: Sun May 13, 2001 4:31 pm
Location: Dancing twixt southern stars
Top

Re: OOC - Legacy Prequel: The Ranger & The Shieldmaiden

Postby elora » Mon Sep 19, 2016 10:41 pm

Above, two brief tales introducing two key characters from the Legacy cast.

Videgavia of Dale, wouldbe horse thief, reluctant instructor and ultimate friend of Freja Fireborn.

Khule, commander of the Easterling forces during the war, a noble man in a time of diminishing honour. He did not cross paths with Freja...but he encountered other Shieldmaidens in the East Fold.

Both characters, go on to serve in the Black Company of Arnor.
User avatar
elora
Ranger of the North


 
Posts: 3386
Joined: Sun May 13, 2001 4:31 pm
Location: Dancing twixt southern stars
Top

Re: OOC - Legacy Prequel: The Ranger & The Shieldmaiden

Postby elora » Tue Oct 04, 2016 6:13 am

*drum roll please* At last, Berendil's character study is complete. This has been a delicate task to shape and we hope the effort can been perceived in what follows.

Name: Berendil of Cardolan

Born: Third Age 2989, Arnor – Location Undisclosed

Descent: Dunédain – Cardolan

Height: 6’1”

Build: Lithe – considerable power and strength acquired as a result of his chosen path as a Ranger.

Hair: Black and mostly straight, usually kept no longer than his collar as per the tradition of his people, with a closely cropped beard to match. When afield, this varies according to need and opportunity.

Eyes: Clear, vibrant grey – like the river stones that gleam beneath the clear waters of the Isen according to one individual.

Personality: Called Berendil the Fair by many, he is even handed, gentle and kind. He has an inherently noble nature and bearing. His reputation is one of diligence and no small degree of skill as a Ranger. Berendil can get along with most he encounters in his travels, his agreeable nature and reticence to anger serving him well. He rarely loses his temper and so glimpses of his deeper, wilder passions are few and far between. Haste is not in his nature and he is a humble man, reluctant to call attention or seek approval from others. He is a ready friend to those in need and a steadfast ally.

Berendil’s placid nature, however, should not be mistaken as spineless. His agreeable disposition should not be dismissed as passivity. His optimism should never be mistaken for naiveté. He is keen of mind and strong of will and has known no small hardship in life. Little shakes Berendil once his path is chosen. Loyal, honourable and brave, Berendil will walk through fire for those dear to him.

Skills: Berendil is widely considered an accomplished Ranger by those in Arnor but this is hardly surprising. Given the unfavourable lands now home to the Rangers of Cardolan, any of their number would be considered accomplished by wider Anorian standards (this is a point of no small pride within Cardolan’s small community). Far more notable is the fact that Berendil stands in high regard amongst the Cardolan Rangers.

As a consequence, his presence in the Grey Company along with Mecarnil was a welcome one as far as Halbarad was concerned. At the time the Grey Company marches, bringing Berendil out of Arnor for the first time, he is excited to be amongst them. He is joined by a Ranger he has befriended, Hanasian, and in the main he is known to the others through Hanasian. By the time they reach Dunharrow, Berendil's skill and manner commends him to the others within the Grey Company.

He is a talented swordsman, the long sword his preferred weapon, and a skilled hunter. His skills include tracking and hunting along with scouting. He also possesses a moderate ability as a healer, though he is reluctant to make that prominent. Whether you find yourself on a battlefield or creeping through a dell at night, Berendil is the sort of man you want at your side. He has a talent for leadership, his steady hand and clear mind serving him well, but is reluctant to exercise it.

History: Berendil spent his early years surrounded by his people and he did not like what he saw.

Arnor, indeed most in Middle Earth, believe that Cardolan had been shattered long ago by the twin blows of the plague sent to decimate their realm by Sauron and the fall of Amon Sûl. The last known Prince of Cardolan had fallen in that battle, surrendering the largest and most powerful palantîr to Arthedain’s heir, yet he left behind a young bride already bearing his child.

In the haste of Amon Sûl's fall and the death of the Prince of Cardolan, the necessity to remove the Master Stone of the palantîrs took eminence. Arthedain had long desired this powerful device and Cardolan's willing ceding of it to them overshadowed all else in that chaos. Arthedain fled, gathering their forces around the Master Stone and falling back to safer ground.

The ploy, a calculated distraction borne of necessity had worked. The widowed wife of the Prince of Cardolan was safely whisked away, hidden from the knowledge of all but Cardolan's innermost nobles - those few that had not fallen victim to the plague or war itself. Alas, they could not know that the Master Stone would be lost to them forever more. Even if they had, still they would have surrendered it. Anything so that the line of Princes endured.

Arnor was a dangerous place, filled with fell peril and much of it directed at Cardolan. Their ancestral realm was a place of death. Evil spirits pursued them even after death, infesting their barrows. Rhuadar, once an ally again Arthedain's overbearing pride, had been corrupted by the darkness that dwelt in Angmar. The stronghold of Imladris, last bastion of the Noldorin, had squarely thrown their weight behind Arthedain. No safe harbour in Gondor either, for the southern realm was also allied with Arthedain.

No, there was but one place left where they might yet survive. A fearsome place it was too, it's keeper uncertain at best.

Many generations later, Berendil came to be born into the small community that lived in the Old Forest under the geas and protection of Old Tom Bombadil. Cardolan’s court was an anaemic thing by then, for the Old Forest not an easy place for a people to flourish. Through great hardship and no small degree of peril, the line of Princes had endured unbroken, yet they were now a hardened people, stripped of gentleness. Cold, bitter and ruthless is what Berendil found in his people as he grew.

In Berendil's time, Sauron no longer actively pursued Cardolan yet his people still regarded the Dark Lord as their most puissant threat. Sauron, like the rest of Middle Earth, considered them extinguished. Cardolan had been widely thought of as a broken, empty realm, mentioned only in the sad histories of the north as a scholar’s curiosity.

Within the Old Forest, though, Cardolan’s court lingered. It brooded in the shadows, nursing old grudges that had sent Arnor spinning into civil war, feeding their resentments. Dispossessed, slighted, dishonoured… this is how his the nobles of Cardolan perceived their place in the world now. It was a bitter pill to swallow.

Berendil grew into manhood enveloped in the swirling, dangerous currents of Cardolan’s politics. He entered training as a Ranger of Cardolan early, as did all lads of a certain age. As he grew, he came to believe that the secrecy and seclusion his people had taken refuge behind had begun to rot them from within. Dismayed by what he saw, Berendil increasingly turned away, drawn by the doings of the world beyond the borders of the Old Forest. The future surely lay there.

Curious by nature, Berendil wandered beyond the limits of the Old Forest as youth. He soon encountered Rangers of Arnor, his people called them Rangers of Arthedain still. They were not at all as he had expected. Raised on tales of how prideful and treacherous the people of Arthedain could be, Berendil was surprised to meet a young Ranger of his approximate age that was neither. Hanasian was Berendil’s first friend beyond his people and would go on to become a close friend as the years drew on.

Somewhat alienated from their kindred, each for different reasons, the two youths were soon fast friends, drawing companionship from each other as they learned their craft as Rangers. Whilst he trusted Hanasian implicitly, Berendil was careful in what he disclosed to others beyond the Old Forest, This did little to address his people's unease at his wandering and fraternisation with the Rangers of Arthedain.

It is here, then, that we glimpse something of Berendil's staunch will. The more his parents and community objected, the more Berendil ventured beyond the Old Forest. On such forays, he would spent most of his time with the Rangers that Hanasian introduced him to. Consequently, Berendil's craft as Ranger was fostered by Arthedain and Cardolan alike. Just what the elder Arnor Rangers made of him Berendil did not guess. Once Hanasian vouched for him, they accepted him as one of their own and did no more than lift a brow whenever he named himself as Berendil of Cardolan.

None of this was lost on the Prince of Cardolan - an ambitious man of high intellect and a ruthless nature. Once it was clear that this young Ranger would not be contained, Lord Bereth found a way to turn his inveterate mutiny to his service. Opposition to Berendil's wandering melted away and the Prince of Cardolan bided his time, watching from the woods for there was word that Arthedain's heir - hidden by the Elves of Imladris - may just stand forward again.

When Aragorn declared his hand in his call for Rangers to march to war in the south under his banner as Isildur’s heir, Cardolan’s Prince was well poised to act. Berendil was dispatched, selected on the basis that he was known the trusted by this rival’s Rangers. Only one other of Cardolan's precious Rangers went with him - a man Bereth trusted implicitly. Grevious as Mecarnil's loss would be, this minimised Cardolan's risk in the coming war.

For his part, Berendil accepted the opportunity gladly. It offered him a chance to prove his mettle and explore the wider world. He had long harboured notions of leaving the Old Forest and those within it once and for all. If he had to chance war and death to win his freedom, then so be it.

On the day he set out Berendil was met by the Lady Verawyn. Already betrothed to the Prince of Cardolan despite her youth, Lady Verawyn was accounted a rare beauty, gentle of nature and powerfully gifted with the capacity for foresight. She spoke to Berendil on that cold, misty morning amidst the dark, unfriendly trees of fire.

Her words made little sense to him at the time but that would change at Dunharrow when he first set eyes on Freja Fireborn, Shieldmaiden of Rohan.
User avatar
elora
Ranger of the North


 
Posts: 3386
Joined: Sun May 13, 2001 4:31 pm
Location: Dancing twixt southern stars
Top

Re: OOC - Legacy Prequel: The Ranger & The Shieldmaiden

Postby earendil81 » Fri Oct 07, 2016 4:58 am

You'd think that being on sick leave I'd have ton of times to read great writings here on TORC, but I only just saw this.
I've devoured it and found myself crying and laughing.

Thank you for another vivid tale.
As much as I know it wouldn't have happened that way, I'm enjoying this tremendously. :-D :-D
Never forgetting those who have passed into the West :rose:

Sharing a story with Rholarowyn: Once There Were Words

Laesha is taking her first steps in the RP world with Eilathen and a bunch of great characters in The Expected Party
Fan of Redemption: the Reckoning

Who can say if I've been changed for the better?
But because I knew you
I have been changed for good.


It's funny how some distance
Makes everything seem small
And the fears that once controlled me
Can't get to me at all
It's time to see what I can do
To test the limits and break through
No right, no wrong, no rules for me
I'm free
User avatar
earendil81
In Love & Light

 
Posts: 5280
Joined: Thu Apr 04, 2002 8:09 am
Location: Somewhere beyond the sea
Top

Re: OOC - Legacy Prequel: The Ranger & The Shieldmaiden

Postby elora » Sat Oct 08, 2016 8:16 pm

Aw...thanks Earendil81! Sorry you haven't been well and glad the tale is giving you something to do....and on that note...here is the character study for Naiore Dannan...

Naiore is not historical cannon. A creature of my own imagining, she's been kicking around this community for some years now. Here, at last, her character and place has been crystallised...Tempting as it is to reduce heroes and villains to two dimensional creatures, the truth of Naiore is rather more nuanced.

NAME: Naiore Dannan

DATE OF BIRTH: II - 4

RACE: Eldar

LINEAGE: Noldorin – Naiore’s mother and father arrived in Middle Earth with Finarfin’s people during the First Age. Through her mother, she is related to Lady Galadriel.

WEAPONS: Garrote, seven daggers and a Noldorin sword from the first age. These she uses at need, preferring to employ her other skills.

APPEARANCE: Tall and terribly fair to behold. Blonde hair falls to her knees, gossamer and silken. Her eyes bear an emerald hue within their starlit depths. Naiore is as fastidious as she is indulgent in her dress. Her inky leathers and blackened mail are feared by foe and temporary ally alike but she is rarely seen in them. Bar one, no foe has survived to recount her appearance and her allies are similarly rare (and ill inclined to discuss the Elf). All bar two: Freja Fireborn, Shieldmaiden of Rohan and Berendil of Cardolan. Both lived to see the Elf and tell the tale, for a time.

PERSONALITY/STRENGTHS/WEAKNESSES: Naiore is aloof. She does not welcome company of any sort for any reason, highly sensitive to the emotions and thoughts of others. At first this proved a weakness and isolated her from her family and people. Over time, however, she came to develop this into a terrifying ability to control, torment and manipulate.

This strength is perverse, however. Despite appearances of unassailable remoteness and absolute detachment from others, each manipulation exacts the same emotional toll upon her. Naiore has learned how to bear all manner of torment as a result and this has hardened her. She is a hollow shell but the maw within her is increasingly ravenous – devouring hope, consuming joy, and leaving only despair. Such is the price for her mastery and it is one she chose, blinded by arrogance and spurred by grief and rage. When we encounter her at the end of the Third Age, Naiore is at the height of her powers and her despair.

Naiore is a lonely figure who believed from an early age that she is fundamentally flawed, evil and rotten. Her rage is glacial. Naiore is not only capable of the ghastly acts that have earned her reviled, feared reputation amongst Men and Elves, she delights in them. She is a pure sadist and she is prone to increasingly extravagant acts to satisfy her dark appetites. Naiore’s rare moments of pleasure and satisfaction come from the humiliation and degradation of others. The taller they are, the greater Naiore's pleasure. Thus, Freja Fireborn's pride proved inescapable lure. But, moreso, Naiore saw her doom in the Shieldmaiden's long shadow.

It is easy to dismiss Naiore as simply evil. She is capable and delights in unimaginable horrors but to do so underestimates the Elf. She is subtle, works often at a distance and through others. She is far more intricate in nature than the weapon she became.

Naiore despises her master’s servants and creatures, is contemptuous of mortals and considers Dwarves little better than sport for an idle afternoon of hunting provided there is nothing better to do. Her true hatred is reserved for her own people and that is a very deep seam indeed.

HISTORY:

Naiore was born into a time of peace four years after the cataclysmic War of Power and the ending of the First Age. Her kinswoman, Galadriel, foresaw the darkness that would later engulf Naiore and warned both her parents and their king, Gil-Galad. Whilst Galadriel did so out of concern in the hope of preventing great sorrow, it is entirely possible that Naiore’s tale would have been quite different had she been welcomed from birth.

Naiore's childhood was a lonely and isolated one. Her parents strove to overcome their foreboding but could not set aside Galadriel's warning of peril. They were distant and found it difficult to trust her, ever looking for signs of the shadow they had been warned of. Naiore's gift grew with her and the young Elf soon understood that she was not loved as other children of the Eldar were. She came to see herself as flawed and broken and at first did what she could to earn the love and trust of those around her. Her abilities continued to grow to the dismay of those around her and so she then began trying to conceal them. This became increasingly difficult as she matured.

By Noldorin standards, Naiore grew into a beautiful Elf. Her driving need to conceal her flaws made her aloof and yet she could not make her abilities vanish entirely. Her keen perception and ability to discern that not spoken or acted upon gave her insight that was ever troubling. Unable to bear this, Naiore forsook Gil-Galad’s court somewhere between II-900 and II-950 and sought the quieter and sparsely populated northern wilds of Eriador.

It was sometime after II - 1000 that Celebrimbor saw Naiore as she rode through his realm. He was captivated upon sight and, remarkably, she by him. A singularly gifted Elf who strove to throw off the shame of his father's and grandfather's acts with his labours, Celebrimbor did not fear nor distrust Naiore as all others had. This was as rain upon the desert and the two became lovers. For her did Celebrimbor fashion the exquisite blade she would bear for the rest of her days. Together they embraced the arrival of the mysterious Annatar, excited by the wonders he promised. Both hoped for a brighter future and both believed that Annatar could provide it.

Annatar, for his part, swiftly perceived the mischief he could achieve through Naiore. Her deeply seated desire to master and control her abilities offered him a suitable lever. As he instructed Celebrimbor in the art of fashioning rings of power, he actively encouraged and nurtured Naiore's prodigious gifts while feeding the embers of her discontent. By the time Sauron's true identity was revealed, Celebrimbor and Naiore were both caught fast - enmeshed in his web.

War came to Eriador and Sauron was swift to take Celebrimbor and Naiore both. However, the Master of Lies whispered that it was Naiore who had betrayed her lover and soon it was held that she had killed Celebrimbor so as to advance herself in the Dark Lord's service. Sadly, the Noldorin were all too prepared to believe this. Galadriel’s warning regarding Naiore lent a truth to the Dark Lord’s lies. Her people turned their backs upon her and she was consigned to the darkness before she had embraced it.

This was the spark to ignite her hatred for her people and any that might ally themselves with them. She walked the only path she could see into the darkness and towards Sauron. Yet, one thing alone was more powerful than her rage, her grief and her hatred: her love for Celebrimbor. It was for him that she walked willingly towards the Dark Lord.

Naiore worked ceaselessly to locate Celebrimbor and she succeeded in locating the smith. She stole him away from Sauron and hid her broken lover even as her people were actively hunting her. Perhaps, had the animosity been able to be set aside, Celebrimbor might have survived and Naiore may have found a way to redemption but that was not to be. The Noldorin had never been inclined to mercy for those taken by the Darkness, willingly or otherwise.

To avoid death, Naiore returned to the Dark Lord she had betrayed. Sauron's rage and vengeance was terrible and long did she suffer for her treachery. When he had finished with her, Sauron had finally shaped her into the weapon that Elves and Men would come to revile. She had been broken and remade yet, for all of this, Sauron would never enjoy full control over Naiore Dannan. She proved consistently unreliable and treacherous.

Sauron dispatched Naiore to the southern realms first and it was here she began her service to the Dark Lord. She successfully cowed and suppressed mortals into the Dark Lord’s service. Despite her success, though, the work was far from pleasing. Naiore had little interest in mortals from the outset. She considered them simple and dull - unworthy adversaries. She remained at it not out of any appetite for it nor sense of loyalty to Sauron. Rather, it gave her the opportunity to slip away to where she had concealed Celebrimbor.

Over the years Naiore attempted to heal her lover. In this time, Sauron used Naiore to seduce the nine men that he would make into his wraiths. Lured by ambition and greed, charmed and flattered by Naiore, they never stood a chance. Thus, Naiore was a devastating tool for Sauron. When she complied, she was his most valuable tool, but he did not trust her. Her habit of going missing had been noted by the Dark Lord, though he did not know why. For her part, Naiore did nothing to actively counter Sauron. Her focus entirely rested on Celebrimbor and she risked nothing that might lead to his discovery.

Inevitably, Naiore could not heal Celebrimbor from the harm he had suffered at Sauron’s hand. The only individual to truly love her died in her arms, shortly before the disaster of the Dead Marshes. She attributed blame for Celebrimbor’s loss to Sauron and the Eldar equally but she considered the Eldar’s actions particularly egregious in that Celebrimbor was denied their aid through their continued hatred and persecution of her. Naiore’s stupendous despair and rage resulted in the massacre of the Eldar of Greenwood and Lorien alike. Word of her culpability inevitably filtered back to Gil-Galad and Elendil, likely through Sauron’s efforts to keep his valuable tool isolated and the price upon Naiore’s head was tripled.

Celebrimbor’s death left Naiore with nothing but vengeance. She honed the ability to manipulate others into taking their own lives, heightening the fear and sorrow of those left behind. Time and again she used this during the seven year siege of Mordor. She could readily turn allies against each other, using them to dismantle the alliance of Men and Elves and she moved with apparent impunity. It was only then that Gil-Galad perceived how terrible she had become.

Yet, Naiore did not disembowel the Last Alliance despite how easily she could have done so. Elendil, whilst a noble man, was still mortal. She could have manipulated him into killing Gil-Galad simply enough and yet she held her hand. The reason for that is simple enough: Naiore's vengeance for Celebrimbor's death did not rest solely upon the Eldar she now hated. She turned her powers against her master, slowly manipulating Sauron into challenging Gil-Galad and Elendil to a duel on the slopes of Mount Doom.

In that moment, though only she knew it, she had no allies. The entire world was her sworn foe. Sauron fell and in the ensuing chaos, Naiore fled. The Last Alliance lost all trace of Naiore and records of her activities in the Third Age are not nearly as reliable.

Naiore was not seen again until Sauron returned to Dol Guldur. Though the Dark Lord had not forgotten her role in his defeat, he was not strong enough to do without her. He sent her to Dunland. The hostilities between the peoples of Rohan and Dunland had spilled over more than once, to the point where Wulf raised an army of Dunlendings to invade and occupy Rohan and Orthanc. Just what she did whilst in Dunland is not clear but hostilities again rose and the Dunlendings were curiously organized and ready to serve when war came again at the end of the Third Age.

Naiore also re-established Sauron’s subjugation of the southern realms of Rhûn, Harad and Khand. Was she that located and interrogated Gollum and it was she that suborned the palantiri of Minas Ithil and thus destabilized both Gondor and the White Council. Towards the end of the Third Age, Sauron dispatched her to Rohan. Whilst he had long distrusted her, he trusted Saruman even less. As Naiore was Eldar, not Istari, Sauron was confident that he’d have greater fortune forcing the One Ring out of Naiore’s hands should it emerge in Rohan. Naiore never made it to Saruman for Rohan was already stirring, Saruman’s control over the land not as complete as he had led Sauron to believe and she fled to Fangorn to avoid capture. Her presence only stirred the Huorns and so she was forced to retreat back to Mordor. Her failure did not well please Sauron and as a result, he ordered her to take the Pelennor with his armies. This was both as a punishment, for he knew how Naiore despised crude and dull open combat, but also the assure the outcome of the battle.

Naiore’s role within Sauron's army was to ensure that Minas Tirith, once breached, was utterly broken. She held back, abstaining from battle and eager to let others deal with the bloody, tiresome chore of breaking the city’s defences. She perceived the approach of the Rohirrim but said nothing of it. Naiore viewed the Rohirrim as little more than a distraction, a fly on the monolithic rump of Sauron’s vast army. Strangely, Naiore did not perceive Aragorn until such time as he set foot upon the battlefield proper– the Valar provided no small degree of aid to Elendil’s heir.

Naiore did little save beyond amusing herself at first during the Battle of Pelennor. She encountered a shieldmaiden of Rohan, Freja Fireborn, who briefly puzzled her but in the main Naiore was waiting for the Witch-King to advance upon Minas Tirith and get to work. When he turned away, drawn by the King of Rohan, Naiore decided to proceed within the city without him. The Witch-King’s subsequent demise altered everything and control of the battle was left to her. Little inclined to conserve the lives of her master’s armies, she pushed them into profligate combat of the likes not seen since the Second Age. The resultant carnage was, as a result, terrible.

Once Naiore became aware of Aragorn’s arrival, she was swift to remove herself but she did not return to Sauron. Mortals surprised her that day for the first time, from Freja through to the subsequent rallying of Rohan and Aragorn's armies. She could see the noose would tighten on Mordor and just where the Ring of Power was remained unclear. Naiore retreating to Harad to wait out the ending of another age, intending to use the ensuing chaos to elude the Captains of the West and the White Wizard - the most powerful Istari in Middle Earth.

But the ending of the Third Age was quite different to that of the Second. Elendil’s heir was far wiser than Elendil’s son had been. He was aware that Sauron’s fall left a number of his agents at loose within the world and he did not forget about Naiore in particular. That lesson, learned at great cost in the aftermath of the Second Age, was not forgotten by King Elessar. All those bound to the One Ring had been undone. Orcs and goblins fled as they could. Naiore, alone, was revealed as a powerful threat that had to be found and extinguished as soon as possible. Exposed as she was, Naiore perceived the need to flee.

Naiore was alone again - left with naught but her unceasing drive for vengeance against those she believed had so wronged her. Sauron had fallen, and so that left her own people...Galadriel in particular. Bereft of the Ring of Power, Naiore perceived that at last her opportunity to strike at her kinswoman had arrived. And her only tool was a Shieldmaiden of Rohan, unwilling and surprisingly difficult to manage for all of her common, mortal origins.
Last edited by elora on Mon Apr 17, 2017 2:37 am, edited 1 time in total.
User avatar
elora
Ranger of the North


 
Posts: 3386
Joined: Sun May 13, 2001 4:31 pm
Location: Dancing twixt southern stars
Top

Re: OOC - Legacy Prequel: The Ranger & The Shieldmaiden

Postby elora » Sat Dec 03, 2016 10:57 pm

And now we have Molguv added to the Company roster!

Woot. The Dirty Three is taking shape.

Apologies for the delay - been a hectic time with travel and the end of postgrad school semester.
User avatar
elora
Ranger of the North


 
Posts: 3386
Joined: Sun May 13, 2001 4:31 pm
Location: Dancing twixt southern stars
Top

Re: OOC - Legacy Prequel: The Ranger & The Shieldmaiden

Postby elora » Mon Apr 17, 2017 2:18 am

Trigger warning: not all tales end in rainbows and puppy dogs.

And really...could Freja ever be content to pass away peacefully in her own bed?
User avatar
elora
Ranger of the North


 
Posts: 3386
Joined: Sun May 13, 2001 4:31 pm
Location: Dancing twixt southern stars
Top

Re: OOC - Legacy Prequel: The Ranger & The Shieldmaiden

Postby elora » Wed Apr 26, 2017 1:33 am

And it is done - full circle. And I've just realised that I did not add Naiore Dannan's profile here. Oopsie:

NAME: Naiore Dannan

DATE OF BIRTH: II - 4

DATE OF DEATH: IV - 44

RACE: Noldorin Elf

LINEAGE:
Naiore is related through her mother to Galadriel. Both her mother and father came to Middle Earth with Finarfin's people in the First Age.

WEAPONS: Silken garrotte, seven daggers and a Noldorin sword from the first age.

APPEARANCE: Tall and terribly fair as the dawn, blonde hair that fell like silk to her hips and eyes of living emerald. Naiore favours the finest of life's indulgences and dresses fastidiously. Her inky leathers and mail are feared by foe or supposed ally alike.

PERSONALITY/STRENGTHS/WEAKNESSES: Aloof, Naiore was a loner from birth who only became progressively more isolated as her gifts unfolded. She is highly sensitive to the emotional states of others and in time would develop the terrifying ability to manipulate the emotions of others to their downfall. This strength is perversely her weakness. For each manipulation she performs on another, she too pays the emotional toll. There is a gaping hollowness within her that eats all hope, all brightness and leaves only despair.

Naiore is a lonely figure, convinced from early childhood that she is somehow fundamentally flawed. It is this weakness that was so ably exploited by Sauron. She can be supremely arrogant and distant, her defence from any perceiving the flaw she believes within her. Her rage is glacial, and she is capable of truly horrendous acts that have earned her a feared and reviled reputation amongst Men and Elves. Whilst prone to excesses of appetites, she is rarely seen to smile or laugh.

She is an intricate character who has been shattered and remade into a terrible weapon capable of unimaginable horrors. She has no allegiances and a frightening appetite for destruction. Naiore is contemptuous of mortals, and views her own people with an abiding resentment.

BIOGRAPHY:

Naiore was born in a time of peace, four years after the cataclysmic War of Power and the ending of the First Age. Her kinswoman, Galadriel, foresaw the shadow that would engulf Naiore and so warned both her parents and their king, Gil-Galad.

Naiore's childhood was a lonely one. Her parents strove to overcome their foreboding but could not set aside Galadriel's warning of peril. Therefore, she was not trusted from the outset and she knew that her parents were distant with her. Naiore's gift grew as she did and the young Elf soon concluded that she was not loved as dearly as others because of it. She came to see herself as flawed and broken and so did what she could to conceal that.

Naiore grew into a beautiful woman, even by Noldorin standards. She was aloof, seeking distance to ensure her flaw was not uncovered. Yet, her ability provided her with insight beyond the usual social shell of court life. What she saw she found contemptuous. Naiore forsook Gil-Galad's court somewhere between II-900 and II-950. She sought the quieter and sparsely populated northern wilds of Eriador.

Sometime after II - 1000 Naiore was seen by none other than Celebrimbor as she rode through his realm. He was captivated upon sight and, remarkably, she by him. Celebrimbor was a singularly gifted Elf who strove to throw off the shame of his father's and grandfather's acts with his labours. The two became lovers and both embraced the arrival of the myserious being called Annatar.

Annatar swiftly realised the mischief he could achieve through Naiore. He knew of her gifts and sensed her pain and anger at her upbringing, her family and her king. As he taught Celebrimbor the art of fashioning devices of power, he unfolded Naiore's prodigious gifts and fed the embers of her unhappiness. By the time Annatar was revealed to be none other than Sauron, Celebrimbor and Naiore were both enmeshed in his lies and webs.

War fell on Eriador. Celebrimbor and Naiore were taken. Sauron's lies whispered, however, that Naiore had betrayed her lover to him and had indeed killed Celebrimbor at Sauron's bidding. Galadriel and Gil-Galad, aware of the earlier warnings about Naiore, could only conclude that Sauron's whispering was true. Naiore's people turned their back on her, consigning her to the darkness before she had truly embraced it herself.

With nowhere else to go, she walked the only path left to her into Sauron's darkness. Her pride precluded her from begging for aid. However, Naiore was not a loyal servant to Sauron. She stole the broken Celebrimbor from his dungeons and hid the smith away. She returned to Sauron, however, to avoid death at the hands of her people. Sauron's rage and vengeance for her act was terrible and she suffered long at his hands. It was this process that created the Naiore that came to be so feared and reviled by Elves and Men. Sauron broke Naiore and remade her.

He used his tool as often as he could. Sauron dispatched Naiore to the southern realms of lesser men. There, she cowed and suppressed these mortals in a terrifying campaign. She had no interest in mortals, yet found them easy to manipulate and toy with her abilities. Still, the work gave her opportunity to go to Celebrimbor and she tried over the years to heal the smith without sucess. Sauron used Naiore to seduce the nine men that would become his wraiths.

Celebrimbor, the only to have loved her, died in her arms shortly before the disaster of the Dead Marshes. This unleashed a truly stupendous despair and the massacre of the Elves of Greenwood and Lorien ensued at her instigation. Word of her inevitably filtered back to Gil-Galad and Elendil and the price on her head was tripled.

Naiore became particularly reviled for her ability to manipulate others to take their own lives, a shameful act that heightened the fear and sorrow of those left alive. She used this ability time and again during the seven year siege of the Last Alliance. She also manipulated Sauron into challenging Gil-Galad and Elendil to a duel on the slopes of Mount Doom. Sauron fell, and the second age ended. Naiore's time was not yet done and she escaped Mordor in the chaos of the aftermath and fled.

Naiore emerged in the third age when Sauron returned to Dol Guldur. This time he sent her to Dunland and Rohan and the hostilities between those two nations spilled over more than once, to the point where Wulf raised an army of Dunlendings to invade and occupy Rohan and Orthanc. Sauron is know to have used Naiore to retain his hold on the southern realms of lesser men. She is talented at sowing dissent and inflaming hatreds to incite wars. He is also known to have used Naiore to retrieve and interrogate Gollum and dispatch the wraiths. Lastly, he is known to have used Naiore's powerful abilities to suborn the palantiri of Minas Ithil and thus de-stabilse both Gondor and the White Council.

However, Naiore's activities did not always assist her master. She was sent to seek the One Ring in Rohan, her master not entirely trusting Saruman. Rohan, however, was already stirring and she narrowly avoided capture by fleeing into Fangorn. The Huorns of Fangorn were so roused by her very presence, to the ultimate ruin of Saruman and Sauron both. As the net tightened on Mordor, Naiore fled to Mordor and was then dispatched to the Pelennor. This, Naiore saw as largely beneath her. A humiliation and a punishment for it was. Sauron was never well pleased with failure and Naiore had not produced the results he had wanted out of Rohan. Thus, fatefully, her path crosses that of Freja Fireborn.

Whilst Freja fought with superb skill she was never Naiore's better. Still, Naiore found herself intrigued by the Shieldmaiden's fiercely determined spirit. Tempted take her alive so as to explore how she just might break this proud and mighty warrior (the like of Rohan had never seen), Naiore was ill pleased when she realised that the Witch King of Angmar had once again let his troops go unchecked. She was forced to let Freja go so as to prevent the Khandese conscripts from breaking into an out and out rout before the onslaught of the Rohirrim. Thus, Freja became the only one to have survived crossing swords with Naiore Dannan even if she did not do so unscathed.

The ending of the third age was different to that of the second. The king of Gondor was far wiser than his predecessor and knew that while Sauron had fallen, many foul agents had escaped the net, Naiore in particular. He charged all his men to search for the Elf, particularly when it became apparent that she was still meddling with Freja Fireborn. Close as she was to the new King of Rohan, there was no telling what the Elf would force the Shieldmaiden to do and Aragorn could ill-afford to have Rohan suddenly without a king. The Black Company was formed to hunt the Elf down and bring her to justice for her crimes.

That hunt took over forty years to reach its conclusion in Pelargir. There, according to the Captain of the Black Company, the Elf seemed to surrender her life. Though their orders were to take her alive so that she could give answer for her many crimes, she was killed. It is likely that this was her own doing, playing on the enmity of the Black Company men to ensure her swift death.

Naiore's reputation such was that many things were attributed to her, whether she was responsible for them or not. She was indeed a monster, but she was much more than that. She was deservedly feared and loathed, of that there can be no doubt. But in her life and death there was also that which could be mourned.
User avatar
elora
Ranger of the North


 
Posts: 3386
Joined: Sun May 13, 2001 4:31 pm
Location: Dancing twixt southern stars
Top


Return to Writing: The Scriptorium of Imladris

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest