A Soldier's Tale

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A Soldier's Tale

Postby samsmyhero » Sat Sep 18, 2004 3:14 pm

Denegal peered out into the mist swirling above the River. The sun setting behind his back sent out fitful streaks of a pale, diluted light, as if it struggled to make known that it still held sway these last few minutes. The dark smudge which had all this day slowly crept out of the east was now enveloping the far shore, causing Denegal to strain his eyes in dogged pursuit of his orders.

“Keep yer eyes peeled for Lord Faramir and his bunch. They may yet cross the River here to the north, things being as they are down south. Mayhaps they’ll be in need of a little assistance once they reach us.”

His captain’s words had been bluff enough. Denegal, and the other soldiers sent to watch on the eastern walls heard, however, the unspoken yet plain message behind them. Faramir and his small company of Rangers were even now overdue. They might possibly have chosen to try for the crossing at Osgiliath. Things were growing pretty hot down there, though. Orcs were massing on the east bank in numbers untold. The chances of even Faramir’s elite unit slipping through undetected were about as good as finding a piece of meat in the stew the garrison cook was at the moment burning down in the galley.

The next likeliest place for them to appear, if they were coming back at all, would be here at Cair Andros. The small islet dividing the stream of the mighty River Anduin was, for the moment, still a securely held outpost. The garrison here had for many a year successfully fought off the occasional foray of orcs from the black lands of the east. Over the past few years, “occasional” had changed to frequent, and lately “frequent” had given way to daily. And orcs weren’t always the only ones bringing battle to the soldiers of this outpost. Still, the fortress held, the river crossing posing a powerful hurdle to any attempting to take it. Knowing this, Lord Faramir would almost certainly choose a route north through Ithilien and thence to Cair Andros, for his best chance at making it back to his father, awaiting him at the Citadel of Minas Tirith.

Denegal and his fellow guards were determined to give Faramir and his men that chance, were it within their power to do so. These days were the bleakest yet of the young soldier’s enlistment. He had fought under Faramir’s brother, the fearless and doughty Lord Boromir, at the retaking of the west bank at Osgiliath. Denegal had thought that the carnage and death he had witnessed there could not possibly be surpassed. Now he realized otherwise. That had been but a taste of what lay ahead, if all the reports coming in were true. The full might of Mordor, allied with who knew what other ghastly and fiendish peoples, lay now just across the River, waiting to be unleashed by their Dark Lord.

In order to withstand this seemingly unconquerable foe, the men of Gondor now looked to Faramir. Long within the shadow cast by his elder brother, the quieter, introspective Faramir had been somewhat dismissed by the soldiery, the captains especially, as not being warrior enough to be a truly great leader of men. But with Boromir’s absence these last many months, Faramir had come to shine forth his own light, commanding the army of Gondor with a calm self-assurance, determination and courage that inspired his men to fight on, whatever the circumstances. It was Faramir who could bring them victory by making them believe in themselves.

So it was that Denegal strained to pierce the gloom of the far bank, the ever thickening river mist mingling with the unnatural darkness which was surely some ill-omened black magic from Mordor. Just as the last light from the sun quietly slunk away from the battlements, the soldier to the left of Denegal called out, “There, near that clump of willow! I thought I saw something . . . Yes! There - did you see?” Denegal focused every atom of his senses on the willows, even holding his breath to steady his vision. Yes! There it was surely. A flash of green, and a pale spot floating above it which might have been a face. And then, of a sudden, several men appeared, all garbed in green, one waving a cautious arm in signal to those behind apparently.

Denegal’s captain, Forgold, had appeared on the battlement, having been summoned by one of the other watchers. Quickly, he raised a lit lantern above the wall and then lowered it. He repeated this several times, then quietly instructed Dengal and three others to get below and launch the small boats which would transport the Rangers across the River.

As he hurried down the slippery steps leading to the small wooden dock, Denegal wondered what lay in wait for them on the far shore.
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Postby Errand » Sat Sep 18, 2004 7:36 pm

( Gates of Minas Tirith - Shortly before sunset )

Lord Arene sat tall in his saddle, looking straight ahead with the steeliest of gazes. The great gates of Minas Tirith had opened to him and his men even before they had been in sight. With welcoming arms, the city greeted them. Behind him, were the troops, nearly two thousand strong, with five hundred mounted cavalry. In front of him and all around him were the citizens of Gondor, cheering lustily. Flowers were flung from high places and floated gently down on the incoming soldiers. A pink blossom caught in the young Lord's flowing locks. He picked it out and inhaled slightly, closing his eyes as he took in the fragrance, so delicate, like a maiden's heart. He held it up then and tossed it back into the crowd. Without any more delay, he made his way through the throngs to meet with the Ruling Steward...

( Gates of Minas Tirith - A few hours later... )

"BLOOMIN' 'ELL! Where's the welcoming party!?"

A lanky figure of a man stood in front of the closed gates of Minas Tirith, scratching his head and looking around. He was a shrewd looking fellow with a hawk-like nose and large, expressive black eyes.
"I say, are we certain we got the right city?" he asked his companions behind him.

"Well it's a wall... and it's white... and it's in Gondor." a rough, baritone voice replied, not without some amusement. "Figure it out, Triste." A much bigger and somewhat older man came up to him, smiling grimly. He had hair like silver steel and his skin was like sun dried leather, all tough and folded. Wherein the first man was skinny, this one was built like a warhorse.

"Then why the bloody 'ell 'aven't the blokes opened the blasted gates!? Eh!? If you're so smart, answer that one, Dorn!" the first man, Triste, replied.

Just then, a third man came up to the gates. He was younger than the first two with a concerned look in his soft, hazel eyes. The wind blew delicate strands of blonde hair across his face as he reached the gate.

"Tri-Captain Dorn, Tri-Captain Tristan, is there a problem?" he asked gently.

"Of course there's a problem, Lyle!" the man called Tristan replied heatedly. "Look at the bloody gates!"

"Tri-Captain Lyle," Dorn interjected. "It appears they've closed early. Should we make a challenge?"

Lyle hesitated for a moment and turned around. Behind him, not more than twenty or so yards away, stood nearly a couple hundred troops, milling around aimlessly.

The Tri-Captain nodded his assent. "It would be best to get the men in as quickly as possible."

Tri-Captain Dorn inhaled deeply, his already barrel like chest nearly doubling in size. "I AM TRI-CAPTAIN DORN OF BLACK COMPANY! WE COME TO THE WHITE CITY IN THE TIME OF HER GREATEST NEED!"

A brief interlude of time passed. A leaf fell from a tree. A breeze stirred.

"... ...I say, are we positive this is the right city?" said Tristan, finally breaking the rather awkward silence. "A good effort on windbag's part, but really now."

Tri-Captain Dorn folded his arms and looked pointedly at Lyle and Tristan. "I hate to suggest it, but it looks like we'll have to fall back on Plan B"

Tristan threw up his hands in exasperation. "Oh bloody great! Bloomin' PLAN B! -" and a flow of curses streamed steadily from the hawk faced fellow as he paced around.

"I... I do not care overmuch for Plan B either," Lyle added. He sighed sadly. "But I suppose there is no choice if we want to get in before nightfall."

"Men will remember this deed in the years ahead." Dorn replied with an absolutely straight face.

"Please don't rub it in, Tri-Captain."

( Inside Minas Tirith - Sundown )

Aenedas and Riv were sentries of Minas Tirith's first gates. They were just making the first rounds when they happened upon a pair of ladies looking lost and confused.

"What are they doing here so late?" Riv mused.

Aenedas shrugged. "Maybe they were trying to catch a glimpse of Lord Arene's troops and got lost. You know how nobles tend to get lost in the lower circles. Especially the women!"

"Mmm hmm... and what fine women they are..."

"What was that?"

"Erm, nothing. Say, let's go help them back"

As the two proceeded forward, Riv could not help but stare at one of the women. She was tall, as tall as him, but slender as a branch. Her flowing dress rippled lightly in the breeze. Streams of bright, golden hair peeked out from beneath the hood over her head. Ah what a pity, Riv thought, that her beauty was covered up so! Sweat moistened his palms and his heart raced a mile a minute. He nerved himself to walk up to the golden tressed one and bowed hesitantly, desperately hoping his partner wouldn't notice how foolish he was acting.

"Ah, e-excuse us ladies! I'm sentry- ah I mean I am of the Guard. We are of the Guard. Ah... perhaps you need some assistance?"

Surprisingly enough, it wasn't Riv who had stuttered that out, but Aenedas. Just as Riv had been taken with the blonde woman, so had the other guard been smitten by the raven tressed one. She had a bit of a sharp nose that one, and her hair and the lower half of her face were covered with a shawl, but she wasn't half bad looking, Riv had to admit.

"Oh thank you, you bloody bastar- ah! Oh dear, excuse me!" she piped in a very high pitched tone. "I'm just so confused... and lost! Oh! My foot!"

Aenedas puffed up his chest and gallantly bowed down to inspect the lady's (no doubt) dainty foot. The foot in question leaped up and smashed the sentry full on the chin, instantly knocking his lights out. The blonde immediately moved and drove a forearms to Riv's head, sending him to dreamland.

"At least that's taken care of!" Tristan spat. "That bloke was undressing me with his eyes, I tell you! I mean, I can understand them going for you, no offense Lyle but you're a pretty boy. I swear, sometimes even I'm tempted when you're wearing a dress. Or when I'm drunk anyway."

"Never mind, Tri-Captain." said Lyle. "Let's open the gates, now."

"No, really, Lyle. Have you ever considered a career in this? There's this place over in Nav Arron that absolutely loves the stuff. Men, women - "

"Never mind."

Eventually the gates opened and several hundred troops entered Minas Tirith. It was the ancient city of Kings and Heroes. It was the white walled bastion of defense. It was the shield that protected the lands of men.

"I'm so hungry I could eat a hobbit!" someone shouted.

And so the White City was introduced to the Black Company.
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Postby samsmyhero » Sun Sep 19, 2004 9:49 pm

The boats slipped quietly away from the dock, the soldiers using extra caution to dip the oars as silently as possible. Denegal felt unnervingly vulnerable with his back to the far shore. At any moment, he expected to hear the twang of bows, the whining song of arrows flying towards them, and the solid plonk of metal tip embedding itself in wood, or worse, the sickening squelch of metal piercing flesh. But all remained quiet on the river and no sounds of alarm came from the eastern shore. The swish of the oars cutting through the current and the subsequent drops of water falling back to the river were the only sounds to reach his ears.

The four rowed swiftly to the opposite shore, attempting to put in as close as possible to where the vague figures in green had been spotted. As soon as the boats grounded with a crunch on the gravel bank, several hooded and caped men stepped out of the shadows of the stand of willow, the foremost throwing his arm across his chest and bowing his head slightly in salute to the soldiers. Silently, more and more figures materialized out of the gloom and without a word climbed into the boats. Their leader, as it appeared, watched until they were loaded to capacity, and then indicated with a wave of his hand for the soldiers to return to the fortress. He himself stepped back into the trees, and Denegal could just make out more shadowy figures waiting there still. Two trips across and back! And with every second waiting for an orc arrow to find its way through the dark and into him! He hadn’t realised that Lord Faramir had taken that many men with him. Well, at least on the way back to the island, he was facing the shore - he might see the danger before it hit. But once again, no signs of disturbance of any kind could he see or hear.

Upon reaching Cair Andros, the Rangers disembarked quickly and Denegal and his companions went once more to collect the second, and what they hoped would be the last, load of passengers. As before, no words passed between crew and cargo. But this time, the leader took his own place in Denegal’s boat as the last of the troop was seated. With an inward rush of relief, Denegal put his back into the task. Although the evening was almost spent, and there was no trace left of the sun, Denegal’s eyes had adjusted to the darkness and his vision was sharpened by the nerve-tautening mission. Half-way across the river, as Denegal looked up for a brief moment, he saw that the troop’s leader had thrown back his hood and sat staring at the far bank. His pale face thus thrown into stark profile against the utter gloom of the night looked noble and calm, yet thoughtful. Denegal had never seen Lord Faramir except from a distance, but there was no mistaking that visage, stamped as was his father and his now missing brother with the ancient Numenorian blood from whence they sprang.

As Denegal contemplated his lord’s countenance, Faramir turned and caught him at his study. With a quick smile of “all’s well”, Faramir reassured the soldier that, indeed, his senses had not failed him and that there was no pursuit to threaten them. Reaching the dock a moment later, the soldiers and their comrades in arms left the boats, still quiet, but with a palpable sense of being out of harm’s way and back to a safe, for now, haven. Bending to tie up his vessel, Denegal felt a hand on his shoulder. “My Lord”, he stammered.

“Good work! My men and I thank you.” Faramir slapped Denegal on the arm lightly then turned to go up the stairs.
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Postby samsmyhero » Mon Sep 20, 2004 8:43 pm

Forgold was awaiting his own men at the top of the stairs. With a gruff nod, and a friendlier wink of the eye, he let them know he also approved of their execution of his orders. Leading the way, he crossed the small courtyard to the round tower that served as armory, with cellars below for storage and a room above for maps and, when necessary, sleeping quarters for higher ranking officers. Above that, a curving stair ran up to the summit, with narrow windows cut into the thick stone wall every few feet for the bowmen to reign death upon any foe foolish enough to get within bowshot. For many a long year, Cair Andros had proved impregnable to the enemy in the east.

This night, the map room was doing duty as Lord Faramir’s debriefing room. Undoubtedly, he would be wanting to give a complete report to his father, commander of all the forces of Gondor, as soon as possible. Yet it was imperative that he share whatever news he had of the movements of the armies of Mordor and Minas Morgul with this, the outpost which held the northern reaches of the Anduin as it reformed itself after its meanderings through the marshes. Thus, as Denegal entered the room, he saw that Faramir was already deep in conversation with the Captain of Cair Andros. Denegal was not surprised that Forgold would be in attendance at such a meeting, being a company commander. But the young guard was perplexed, and a little nervous, to be present himself. He took a place near the wall, trying to be as inconspicuous as possible. Some of his fellow men at arms seemed to relish being the center of attention and tried to be so whenever given half a chance, whether before their captains or just their own mates. Denegal, however, was much more retiring, content to observe more than wishing to be observed himself.

He watched the various Rangers entering and exiting the room, in search of a hot meal by the looks of the empty hands going and the laden hands returning. Their foray into the wilds of Ithilien must have been arduous indeed if they could so quickly and willingly swallow down the stew, which was good and burnt from the smell of the vile stuff. With their hoods thrown back, and some having removed their cloaks, the men seemed to have relaxed some small bit; but their faces were grim. The news they brought could not be at all to the good.

“Yes, tall and dark, some mounted on the backs of monstrous huge beasts of war, coming up from the south. We intercepted a company of them, and did what damage we could. But I fear that was just one drop in an ocean of the forces that the Dark Lord now summons to his cause.” Denegal listened closely as Lord Faramir reported what troops they had seen and where, his voice calm, yet his eyes betraying the truth - even Faramir was beginning to despair. The news was grim indeed. The entire strength of the enemy, from Mordor and from lands far to the south and east, were massing, ready for the hammer strike on Gondor. The armies of Minas Morgul lay across the River at Osgiliath; Faramir was very concerned about the garrison there. Their numbers were too few to withstand such an onslaught. But to hold the west bank was crucial to the safety of all Gondor.

“My Lord, what think you of their attacking along the northern route, here south of the swamps?” The garrison Captain waited patiently as Faramir framed his reply carefully.

“I believe that day will come, in all probability sooner rather than later, I’m afraid. But for now, the needs of the defenders at Osgiliath appear to be more pressing.” Faramir rubbed his chin with his still gloved hand. “I’m sending my own men south, tonight, down the River. I can’t ask you to give up a company here; you are undermanned as it is . . . and your need will be great, I fear.”

“We’ll manage my lord.” It was Forgold’s rough baritone that carried through the now quiet room, all ears intent upon catching Lord Faramir’s words.

Looking over at the old soldier, Faramir smiled and clapped his hand on Forgold’s shoulder. “Yes, Captain. I know you will. Your men are brave and I know they will not desert Cair Andros until there is no other choice.” Denegal wondered how many of the others listening had caught their Lord’s use of “until”, and not “unless”, in that last thought.

Turning back to the garrison commander, Faramir continued. “ But I must needs ask you to spare me the use of your boats, and any your men who are well versed in the ways of the River between here and the ruined city. No good will come of sending help if it arrives not in time. My men must go by boat, under cover of night, or whatever darkness has fallen upon us. In this one way at least, the dark Lord’s black magic may avail us.”

Denegal felt his voice leap unbidden to his throat. Without thinking, he spoke loudly, for him. “I’ll take your men down the River, my Lord! Let me be one of the guides chosen.”

All eyes turned on him, and he felt his face begin to burn in consternation.
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Postby zimraphel » Mon Sep 20, 2004 10:22 pm

Herenyar flung himself forward with a will which overpowered his physical fatigue. The masonry, wrought by hands long beneath barrows, had lost its astonishing charm and had become simply another stair, another obstacle. Each obstacle was a delay that they were sorely ill-suited to afford. At last, he came to the door of the chamber he sought, and pushed from the permeating ink night to the room dimly lit by tallow lights.

His Lord Captain Faramir sat in conference with the barrel chested captain, both grim with flat faces, like any fine captain of such uncertain times. Guardsmen of various rank stood around them, one short one with a flush on his face starting forward to speak. Herenyar hung in the shadow cast by the ajar door, bursting to deliver his message but biting his tongue. “I’ll take your men down the river, my lord! Let me be one of the guards chosen.”

“Captain,” Herenyar sighed to interrupt what could have become a lengthy acceptance or decline on his Captain’s tongue, and shifted the attention of the room to his bedraggled person. “Whoever is to be chosen must be chosen with all haste.”

“Herenyar?”

“The scouts report, sir, that the east bank is teaming with the force of Mordor.” The men who were to remain at Cair Andros blanched but their captain scowled and exhaled.

“The skirmishers grow bolder. ‘Knew they’d think to come along in the death dark night.” Herenyar shifted and stepped forward. The men about him, save Faramir, whose gray gaze was full of a dawning knowledge, had little knowledge of what manner of force his spoke of. They were all men tempered and hardened by the weary toil of battle, and all knew the strength of the furious and unexpected bursts from the wild shore.

“Captain, I know your folk here are hearty and brave,” at which he nodded towards the young soldier, “ but this force is more great in number than you think.”

With a snort, Forgold spoke up. “How many does the scout report, for I have seen them spread from one tip of the island to the next, and we have staved such a number off before.”

“He says,” Herenyar muttered, “that their forces are spread in scattered bunches for five miles along the bank. I am sorry to report.” He finished with his eyes focused on a point past all the grimmacing faces turned towards him.

His captain, as always, kept his distress behind a smooth face, and he looked from Herenyar to the soldier, Denegal, and sighed. “You have proven worthy of such a task, if you truly desire it. As said, you keep a brave garrison, Captain.” The last comment was made to his peer, whose profile was set in stony courage. “I will need some two more of your men to accompany us, do you think, Herenyar?”

“I think two more will do.”

“Good. We will depart as soon as possible. Unless you will need more for the holding of your fort.”

Forgold’s already rotund chest swelled with a militant pride. “Lord Faramir, we shall hold this fort as always, and we will do with this onslaught as we have with the others. The brutes always make back east like hounds with tales between their legs. We can hold even this.”
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Postby samsmyhero » Tue Sep 21, 2004 9:44 pm

The map room seemed to erupt into a scene of organized chaos. Soldiers and rangers alike were grabbing up gear and weapons and moving towards the door. A few, more stalwart than the others, stood long enough to cram a last few mouthfuls of stew into their bellies. Faramir stood still in earnest talk with the garrison commander, imparting words of counsel or encouragement. Forgold took the opportunity to slip over to Denegal's side and address his young underling.

"I'm right proud of you, speaking up like that, youngster. I just wanted ye to know. I would ha' recommended ye for the job, any road. I've naught seen yer equal when it comes to handlin' a boat. I know ye'll do well by our Lord's men." The old captain smiled, as Denegal opened his mouth to speak.

"Nay, lad. There's no need for ye to stay now. Yer skills are wanted elsewhere. And we've never yet been taken by those black fiends from across the way. We're not about to start tonight."

"But Captain," Denegal began, "That messenger's report . . . it can't be true can it? I mean, troops stretching out for five miles! If so, I think I should . . ."

"Yer going with the boats – and that's an order, son!" With a growl, Forgold turned away, but not before Denegal caught his barely audible whisper, " And may the gods of fortune ride with ye!"

Denegal then hurried from the map room and down into the armory. His sword hung at his side, and he considered whether he should ask the master at arms to issue him a bow and quiver. Looking around the room, however, and seeing the strained countenances of his fellow guardsmen as they readied themselves for the coming onslaught, he decided against it. Best to leave as many weapons here as could be had – they would be needed. And if he were to be occupied in navigating their course downstream, and in the dark, he would have little use for a bow anyway. It was regrettable that at such a time the company of Rangers could not stay and assist in the defense. But if things were as bleak as Lord Faramir had painted them at Osgiliath, it couldn't be helped.

Denegal hesitated, wondering if he should proceed down to the dock again. He spied the other two soldiers selected to man the other boats, and was just making to approach them, when he felt a tap on his shoulder. Turning, he found himself staring into a familiar, yet unknown face. His memory cleared as the young ranger spoke, and Dengal recognized him as the messenger who had spoke in the map room.

"Captain Faramir has sent me to collect the three who will accompany us tonight. He has a few words for us all before he departs." The ranger strode quickly towards the other two guards, Denegal hurrying in his wake.

"Why? Can't he speak to us during the journey?" Denegal asked, puzzled at the ranger's words.

"The Captain does not go to Osgiliath, but to Minas Tirith." The ranger said, somewhat pointedly, as if the young soldier was slow and needed the obvious explained to him. "He and three of our company will take the last of the horses from the stable here and ride through the night. Let us hope they make the Rammas before this fortress falls."

"And are you so sure then, that it will fall?" Denegal asked, placing his hand on the ranger's arm causing him to stop and turn back to face him.

In response, the ranger merely stared at the soldier, a slightly melancholic look in his eyes. "My name is Herenyar. Captain Faramir says you are a good man. I'm pleased that you will be in our company."

Denegal hand slipped from Herenyar's arm down to clasp the ranger's hand. "My thanks for relaying Lord Faramir's words. I'm Denegal."
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Postby Wasara » Wed Sep 22, 2004 5:28 am

In the darkness little raft is drifting downstreams.Thorgrond utters silently: `These are the hard times and one shouldn`t trust anybody,but your accent reveals that you are from Southern Kingdom.You pronounce reminds me one who I met in Master Elronds dwellings not long ago.`

Young gondorian replies faintly `I have heard about Half-Elvens Halls only in nursery rhymes which my mother told me as a child.But it`s said that one of our nobles went to North not long ago to seek advice or something but he never came back...poor Lord Boromir,who knows which were your intentions?.Never shall be you horn heard in Gondor.`

Thorgrond struggles with the staff but raft is cussedly drifting downwards.The shoreline of Cair Andors is observed barely in the darkness and also fog from the river was increasing.

Thorgrond speaks hastly:`Times are hard as I said...there`s always some truth in childs lores but I say this:I`m dunadan and ranger from north and I trust you,but speak quickly how in earth you are swimming yourself to death in Anduin in these days?`

Gondorian says: `Maybe you yourself should start give me an explanations..`coughs aside`...but words such as dunadan are not forgot in Gondor...anyway,I`m one of the Rangers of Ithilien and our outfit,whole company,is heading towards Osgiliath by boats.We got strictly oders from our captain,Lord Faramir,to hold the beachhead there.Accidently my boat was hit by drifting log or something it`s hard to tell in this darkness and we all fell into drink.I think others made it but I was pulled beneath by undertow and I`m also bad swimmer...`

Thorngil breaks:`I got to orders to get through to your captain..I saw also lot of activity in North Ithilen.Saurons pathfinders were moving from Morannon..´

Gondorian explains: `Faramir had made his conclusions.We are waiting heavy blow and it`s got to be towards Osgiliath.It`s also chance that at same time Sauron sends his legions through Nindalf to cross Anduin between Entwashs`delta and Cair Andros...you are late.Faramir is on his way to Minas Tirith to meet High Command there...`

After silence Thorgrond boldly express: `Late or not I will escort you to your friends and on the one hand my job is done.It would be madness to try back to the North.And it is obvious that our friends in there would worry only their own borders in these circumstances.You can`t wait much help from there...I hope that I can join to Green Company.I think there is always need for calm hand...`

Gondorian replies: `It`s not my job to judge that but here you got trusty forespeaker.Let`s hurry and make it to others..`

On the right Cair Andros drifts out of sight as two men let tiny vessel go downwards.Raft is moving faster and it is easy to steer it.Men are focusing to sight any movement forward them...
Last edited by Wasara on Thu Sep 23, 2004 1:00 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Postby samsmyhero » Wed Sep 22, 2004 11:38 pm

Denegal sat at the stern, his hands on the tiller almost numb from the cold and the never ceasing tug of the water. But he dared not release either hand, even for a quick rub of his aching arm muscles. One catastrophe tonight was already too many. He couldn't believe it - it had all happened so quickly . . .

Herenyar had led the three soldiers out into the courtyard where the shadows lay deep, relieved only by the flickering lanterns which danced in the cold breeze which had come up. Faramir now stood in a pool of yellow, his Rangers about him, some still tending to their weapons, others merely waiting attentively. All were quiet though, with the expectant attitude of those on the verge of imminent departure. Denegal and his three companions took up places at the edge of the company.

"Men, I know these past days have been grueling. And now I must ask you to yet press on, and into the very teeth of the enemy. You know what awaits you at Osgiliath, and I must ride on with all haste to my Lord awaiting me at the Citadel. If I could, I would fain be still at the head of this valiant company as you face this greatest of all threats . . . you know that. Remember this - if I can, I will be with you when the enemy strikes. And together, we will send a shock so mighty through their very bones and sinews that it shall be felt all the way to the black tower itself!" Lord Faramir's voice rose at the last, causing the horses that had been brought forth from the stable to side-step with surprise.

The Rangers replied as one with a resounding "Huzzah!" regardless of the foe that might even now be within hearing across the river.

With that, Faramir and the three accompanying him leapt into the saddle, and with an arm thrown across his chest in final salute, the valiant commander was gone into the night. Denegal had heard the splash as the horses hit the river to begin their swim across the cold waters.

So much had happened in the intervening few hours, it seemed as if that last glimpse of the proud, young Lord had been but part of a dream

As Dengal fought to keep his boat as close as possible to the western shore, and out of orc bow range, he refelcted back on those terrible moments - the boat in front of him hitting unexpectedly on some hidden root or rock, the craft spinning sideways and taking on the water that came rushing into it, men going into that cold, dark flood, the River swollen by all the melt-water coming down from the mountains, their stifled pleas for help, trying not to swallow too much water and not wanting to alert any orc patrols that might be lurking on the eastern bank . . .

Denegal and the coxswain of the third boat had manouvered as best they could, trying desperately to slow their own crafts and negotiate the swift current in the darkness, all hands searching frantically for those in the water. Herenyar, having taken a place in Denegal's boat, had managed to spot at least three of his companions and they had hauled them out and tried to keep them warm with blankets. The third boat had more sucess, having had more time to react and slow down enough to catch the drifting Rangers. But the waters were flowing fast and had a wicked undertow. When all hope of finding any more survivors in the inky blackness was past, the final headcount was both a miracle and a sore disappointment - one ranger was missing. Only one, but that was one too many!

The two remaining craft had managed to catch the errant boat and get it to shore. There, all disembarked and helped to bail it out and get it afloat again. No damage had been done it, which was very good luck indeed. For there would have been no way for all of the comapny to proceed downriver in just the two. The men who had gone into he water were chilled, but otherwise unhurt. Hurriedly, they resumed their voyage, an even quiter and more sombre crew than that which had left Cair Andros just a few hours before.

They had been lucky, Denegal knew that. With the River in the state that it was, such an incident could easily have been a disaster. That was why Faramir had asked for the help of experienced rivermen. Yet still, Denegal couldn't help but feel that he had let Lord Faramir down. They should have been able to rescue all the men. If only he had reacted more quickly. If only he had been able to put about with more skill . . .

"Don't think about it." Denegal recognized Herenyar's quiet voice at his side, even though it was so dark he could barely make out the ranger's face. "It happened, and there's nothing anyone can do about it. If you don't want his death to have been in vain, keep your mind on your steering, and get us to Osgilath, as Faramir wanted. Don't betray the trust he put in you."
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Postby Wasara » Thu Sep 23, 2004 3:12 am

Anduin was wild and unpredictable at this time of spring and navigating was tough job.Wind was rising.Fog from the river was circulating and sometimes flitter of the wind scattered and revealed large areas of dark waters.Faint moon appeared time to time between the clouds and fog.It revealed almost black mass of clouds moving from Ephel Duath.Apparently those were the last hours of normal daylight before Sauron would laid his grim heavy arm over Gondor.

Two dark silhouettes on the raft were chasing any movements on the dark waters.In this despair Thorgrond made quick positive note about increasing darkness:it would be extremely useful for dauntless raiders.Also thick air which was storming from pits of Mordor would damp any noise drastically.

Silence was unbreakable.Hostile eastern bank was burden.Young gondorian informed Thorgrond that it was obvious that the boats of the convoy would use route near west bank of the River.Time was crawling and men`s nerves were on egde of outburst.

Suddenly faint thuds were heard.Those came closer and they were clearly
coming from right side of the River.Few minutes later those were gone.Young gondorian hesitates a bit but then he makes whistle mocking the waders.He repeats it in steady intervals...


(Maybe that wader thing makes sense and I found nothing else.Use of lanterns might be suicidal on those circumstances.If we need more to add storyline I will send it.)l
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Postby corintur » Thu Sep 23, 2004 1:58 pm

Darkness was covering and only a huge dark figure could be seen.

Serad was walking quietly on the river shore, his hood over his head. These days were day's of mostly getting out of trouble, Serad tried to stay as far away from human's as possible but his mind was else where. He didn't really pay attention to where his feats were taking him, he was thinking of home, and his mother. It's been 10 year's since he left home and he wondered if his mother was still alive...

What Serad failed to see was the rope trap laying 10 feet away. He walked straight to it and the second his enormous foot stood on the trap the rope was cut and Serad went flying into the air trapped in the rope cage...

"Spy, Spy" came the shouts from all around. Serad's huge body was all crumpled up and he had no idea what was going on.

"I'm not a spy" he tried to explain although he knew he had little chance to do that. Dark figures came out behind trees and bushes, Serad made a quick count and there seemed to be about 10 of them, Gondorian soldiers.

'Stupid, Stupid, how could I do this? Why did I get near Osgiliath?' Thought Serad to himself, 'all right, just be calm and do what they say, I'll find a way to escape' and that's exactly what he did, he stayed calm.

The big soldier, who Serad amused himself by calling him little, hand cuffed Serad quietly with heavy chains, they took his axe, shield and also his dagger. He was blind folded and taken away.

The march to Osgiliath didn't take a very long time and Serad tried to hear all he could, but all he heard were the soldiers talking about women.

When they got to Osgiliath they took the blind fold off his eyes, he looked around and he saw he was in a little room with a chair and table.

"You're lucky we have no men to spare or we would o' tortured you good." Said the big soldier with a smirk. That reminded Serad of his training, he didn't think the torturing could be worse...
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Postby samsmyhero » Fri Sep 24, 2004 11:55 am

As if in a trance, Denegal stared into the darkness. The black was so complete that even the river mist could not be seen, but merely felt. It clung to his face like a cold, damp rag, chilling away the sweat from his brow. Although the sky revealed not a single trace of the coming dawn, Denegal knew the time of the sun’s rising could not be far off. Whether the Dark Lord’s fell magic would hold sway even over the celestial happenings or no, only time would tell. And for now, time was passing very slowly, much more slowly than the rapidly flowing River. Denegal wondered how many hurs had passed since they had left Cair Andros. Ten, perhaps eleven? He leaned slightly towards Herenyar, prepatory to asking of the Ranger what his opinion might be, when, of a sudden, he heard the call of a water bird.

He felt Herenyar stiffen, and sensed, rather than saw, the other Rangers in the boat, coming to attention. Well, the morning call of a bird might seem strange in this queer darkness. But it was reasonable, and reassuring, to assume that the creature was determined to herald the new day, regardless of the foul miasma that encompassed the world and shut out the light. Denegal made again to ask his question, clearing his throat, when Herenyar silenced him with a hard hand on his arm. The young soldier ried in vain to discern the look on his companion’s face, and a small shock went trough him. Was this some treachery of the orcs, a signal perhaps? He strained his ears, wondering if the spells of the Dark Lord were able to blind his enemies while leaving his own minions able to view their quarry without obstruction. Denegal qualied at that thought - and all it would imply for the free people of Middle Earth.

There it was again! And this time, as he had ben listening so closely for it, Denegal could more accurately pinpoint its location. The whistling sound was coming from upstream, and close to the west bank, as they were themselves. Denegal was just beginning to ponder this information, when he jumped. Herenyar had returned the call with one of his own, almost identical but one note off. The other Rangers sat as if carved from stone. The whistle from upstream came once more, this time mimicing Herneyar’s call perfectly.

“Denegal, we must put in to shore, quickly!” Herenyar whispered, urgency and joy mixing in his voice. “That was the call of our lost companion. I know not how he comes to be so close and apparently safe, nor in what manner of craft he rides, for those whistles certainly did not come from a man half-drowned from hours spent in these frigid waters. But we must stop and hear his tale return him to the company.”

Denegal, trying to assimilate this startling information and steer towards the west bank at the same time, stammered, “But how . . . I mean, who . . . Well, in all events, how can we let the other boats know what we’re up to?”

“Have no fear! They will have also heard the calls and know their meaning. They too will know what to do.”

Within a minute, Denegal had found a small shoal near the bank. He set the boat into it, and once it crunched on the sand, the Ranger in the bow jumped out and pulled the boat further in. They had not long to wait before the other two boats appeared suddenly out of the gloom.
Almost holding his breath in anticipation, Denegal sat still in the stern, ready to cast off again at a moment’s notice should danger materialize. Impatiently, he wondered how the lost Ranger had found succor.

Once more, from no more than fifty feet out on the water, came the whistle. Herenyar replied, and within an instant a strange craft slid out of the darkness onto the shoal. A small raft, speedily made by the looks of it, carrying not only the missing Ranger, but also another man, grounded in the sand. The two men stepped off, the one jumping forward to happily embrace his companions, who crowded round. Denegal, seeing the Rangers content that this was no orc trick, climbd out of his boat and approached the other man.

Extending his hand in friendship, he said “This is a most truly wondrous happening! We never expected to see ths man again! How came he to be with you, and how came you to be on the River this most dreary and dreadful night?’
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Postby Wasara » Sat Sep 25, 2004 3:23 am

Thorgrond stretch to shake hands with this boldface character and replies:"Aiye!,I must speak quickly because there is no time to waste.."They go through the Thorgronds name and his quest and what happened on the river."This young man struggled bravely against heavy undertow and it was close..."At same time he sights this band of Rangers in their weatherbeaten green cloaks.They have seen bad days and apparently they were men unmerciful height of the fighting,men aware of their cause and commitment to each other and their Command.Some seemed to be on their forties with carved,bold faces and some much younger,most of them with bows,but eager and quick to learn.

Herenyar had joined Denegal after making few quick orders to his men.He utters:"We are very thankful,also from behalf our Captain,Lord Faramir.It seems that you are late but I have spoken with my men and they gladly wellcome a dunadan to ranks of the Green Company.We don`t know what is waiting for us in Osgiliath but now we must move without hesitate!".

With signals of his hand Herenyar orders men to the boats and after few minutes shore is empty without any marks on it.It was like green waver of the wind beneath the willows as men disappeared downwards the river...
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Postby zimraphel » Sat Sep 25, 2004 10:01 pm

Herenyar felt the pull of the Anduin at his feet as they put out from shore. But for the wetness seeping in at the seams of his boots, and the sounds the river made, there was little to differnciate from the relative certainty of the western bank, and the unknown dangers of the south flowing Anduin. As the craft took to the deeper and swifter part of the river, Herenyar withdrew the leg he had used to propel from the shore. Trying not to disturb the boat overmuch, he settled next to Denegal at the stern, and shot a remark at the young man.

“You see now, all your distress was for naught.” Catching the hint of a joke at such a strange time, Denegal blinked at him in the darkness, with a look that smacked of disbelief. He shook his dark head and stared ahead.

“Ah, I see now that I sould have forseen such luck. More the fool I.” He fixed his keen pitch-dark eyes at a point down stream and let them rest there now, silent. The curent had grown recalcitrent and stubborn as the river cut a narrower path. The boatmen, though, had been vigilent since the previous incident, and there was, for the most part, an easy time of it.

Herenyar sought with his gaze a figure huddled in the craft behind them. Th lad had taken a fall into the treacherous river, and looked the worse for it, his hair in thick wet ropes, and his skin had seemed paler than was fitting. Who could gauge, though, in this poor light, what the youth’s actual condition was? Herenyar sighed, and turned his attention to the looming trees on either bank. Each seemed a mirror to the other, but a deep sense of foreboding gripped him as he surveyed the eastern shore.

It was from the west, however, that he heard the sounds of a snare snap, a few muffled words, and then a cloak of silence. At this sudden noise, there was an allover hush from the company, and more than one of the younger men crouched in fear. Denegal, though, sat straighter and loosened his blade with a quiet movement of his hand.

“They have not crossed, Herneyar?” He shook his head unsurely, but knew that if Mordor’s muscle had indeed breached the river, that there was, for certain, a very great problem. He flicked his hand upward, which caught the attention of the alert men. All who had bows made them ready and knocked arrows to them, and the boatmen and damp young ranger put there hands on any ready weapon. For a few moments they listened, but only silence greated their ears.

The newly come ranger of the dunedain, who had called himself Thorgrond, whispered across the three feet which seperated them in the dark. “It might proove a wise thing to send a man or two to survey the shore.”

Herenyar shook his head, however, and sighed. “I don’t think we have much luck left to count on, this night. I can’t ask my men to do something I would not.”

“I can do it easily enough.” Before the more leary of the two could protest, Thorgrond had slid from the craft with a confidence that made Herenyar burn with embarassment at his own cowardice.

They had been travelling in an eddy, which had pulled them close enough to the bank so that the Anduin came only to the knee. Thorgrond, to the wonderment of the rangers, waded ashore, while Herenyar berated himself, and felt sure that his men scoffed at his judgement. A silent quarter of an hour passed, most of which the men spent sitting in their shored boats.

Finally, Thorgrond broke out of the line of willow bows flanking the narrow beach. There was a clam look on his face, which all found reassuring.

“I make no sense of it. I can only tell that there have been no orcs or foul creatures in these parts, and that, at least is good news.”

Herenyar sighed and nodded, and gave the order to set forth. The had spent, perhaps, an hour on the river, when Denegal spoke from behind and gestured forward. “There is a great shape before us. The city, I think.” Though it was slightly hidden, Herenyar smiled to himself at the pride of the statement. Indeed, the gray mass of Osgiliath had begun to apperate in the smog, and the sounds and smells of battle began to permeate the air.

Fires, too, burned in the eastern side of the city, and ate at the dark mass of the sky.

“Indeed, you have brought us here. Well done.”

“Oh, no flattery just yet. There is an even greater task before us now, and thus I am still unproven.” Just as the shouts of the western sentries sounded from the cities, Herenyar mused that such a philosophy was fitting for them all.
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Postby samsmyhero » Sun Sep 26, 2004 12:06 am

Denegal stared around him, the murky outlines of the ruined city barely visible in this dawn that came without light.Osgiliath! The memories he had of this place chilled him to the core. The last time he had walked here, the blood of his fallen companions had soaked the ground and formed puddles on the stones. But Lord Boromir had been exultant - anxious to be away to Minas Tirith to break the good news to his father, the Steward. And Denegal had understood, and accepted, this. Thus it always was, the lot of the soldier - to do his duty, and to lay down his life so that others might be free and safe. He wondered sometimes if those he fought for, some many hundreds of leagues away, ever thought about this, or even realized it. No matter, though, what they thought; he would still fight on to the last breath in his body, for what he knew to be the truth - life without the freedom to live it wasn’t worth having.

Thorgrond and Herenyar were already making their way to a mostly intact building which Herenyar had said served as makeshift headquarters here in the ruined city. They needed to report to the Captain of the forces here, to see where he would want them deployed. As Denegal hurried along behind them, he heard them consulting apparently over what the dunadain had found on the western bank upriver. Denegal caught a few words - “tracks of Gondorian soldiers”, “must have been a really big man from the size of the footprint” “very strange boots, I didn’t recognize them”. He caught up with them just as they entered the building, and asked “So, what did you find there on the riverbank?” Thorgrond looked back over his shoulder to reply, but Herenyar, staring into the lantern-lit room, pointed and said, in a low voice, “Perhaps that might explain things.”

Both Thorgrond and Denegal looked to where a small commotion was erupting. Three Gondorian soldiers were standing over a huge man, shackled and chained in irons. The big man was protesting his innocence, and the soldiers were attempting to stifle his pleas with blows to his head and shoulders.

“What manner of person is this, that he should be treated so?” Thorgrond wondered to his companions.

“A southron, by the looks of him.” came Herenyar’s quick reply. “We just ran into a company of them not three days ago, marching bold as brass through Ithilien, to the Black Gate to join with the forces of Mordor. I’ll lay odds this one’s a spy.”

The three stepped into the room to hear what the man was saying. "Please, I'm telling you - I'm not a spy! I left the Harradrim weeks ago, as we were coming north. I don't want to fight you! I don't want to fight anyone! Please, let me go on my way!"

"Yes, that's what you keep saying, tiny!” one of the soldiers sneered. “And wouldn't we be the idiots to believe it? Not likely! Now come on, tell us how you got across the river, and how many of you are there?"

Denegal had remained quiet, but with this last comment, the soldier had smacked the captive hard on the side of the head with the flat of his sword, causing a resounding ‘thud’. “Here, that’s no way to treat a man, even if he be a spy!” Denegal cried out, stepping forward. “If he has information to give up, you’ll knock it clean out of his head, if you don’t knock him unconscious first!”

The soldier looked Denegal up and down before replying with a smirk. “He’ll wish he was unconscious if he don’t spit out all he knows, by the time we’re through with him! Now, back off lad, unless you want some of the same.”

Denegal took another step forward, but both Herenyar and Thorgrond placed restraining hands on his arm. “Don’t let a fool make you act like a fool” Thorgrond said, in a low voice.

At that moment, two figures stepped through the doorway into the already crowded room.

“What’s going on here?” the shorter of the two growled, wearing the insignia of captain. “Isn’t it enough that we have the enemy at our doorstep, without you lot circling round all stiff legged like a bunch of mangy dogs quarreling over a bone? Here, you bunch, where’d you come from? Your Lord Faramir’s men, ain’t ye? Is he come then?”
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Postby Frelga » Sun Sep 26, 2004 2:52 pm

From Lamedon, a few grim hillmen without a captain.

The smooth road took its last turn, and Minas Tirith rose in front of Sharvili's eyes in all its splendor. It belonged to the mountain, was a part of it, and yet it was clearly man-made. It was majestic, tall, and - he thought with dismay - very, very steep.

"The stables would be at the bottom, and they would have us walk up to the very top." he muttered with a sigh. He should have stayed home. But then he would have never had the glorious sight of the seven-walled city glimmering under the afternoon sun.

"Give us a song, Givi!" another rider called to him. Givi Sharvili grinned back, and sent his clear voice soaring over the small cavalcade.

Hey, my friends, you water horses
We will rest here for a spell.
I will step out to the garden,
I will start to dig a well.


Another voice joined him, and then a few more; someone began to whistle along with the tune and another man blew a horn. Cheered by the song, the men from the high hills of Lamedon urged their horses to a trot. They did not turn to look behind them. Not until the oldest of the hillmen, a widower in his forties named Vano, gave them a sharp call to stop.

"What's wrong, Uncle Vano?" Sharvili asked, surprised. The thin, tall Vano had taken the younger men under his care, earning himself the respectful title.

"They are," Vano replied, pointing to where the valley-men had fallen back some distance. Some of them were followed by their tenants on foot and so could not catch up with the riders. The walkers looked dusty and sweaty, and rather red in the face.

"Oh, them!" another man shrugged. The men of the high hills had little use for the pale-eyed lowlanders. Few of the valley-folk bothered to learn the language of their neighbors, but assumed that everybody else could speak theirs; many had not touched shovel or shears in their lives, claiming to "own" the land and expecting the tenants to give up their crops for the privilege of working on it. And they made an inordinate amount of fuss over a few heads of missing cattle.

But Vano was firm. "Yes, them. We may all go into the same battle tomorrow. If I do not come out, I would not be remembered as one who forced a horseless man to pant in the dust of his hooves the day before." He glared around the chastised group.

The hillmen held their shaggy horses, and waited for the rest of the Lamedoni to catch up. More than one of the younger men looked over his shoulder to the East, where the solid darkness loomed and grew, and perhaps thought for the first time of what Vano had said aloud. If I do not come out.

And so it was a somber group that approached the City Gates. Throngs of Gondorians lined the road to welcome the Captains of Outlands. But the hillmen had no captain, nor did they need any lord to tell them what to do. The men sat tall and proud in their high saddles, riding so close their knees touched. A grim, wild folk they looked in their felt cloaks with wide, square shoulders, and shaggy fleece hats pushed low over dark eyes. The harness of tooled leather was inlayed with copper or silver and studded with turquoise.

They entered the city walls, which now glowed crimson in the last rays of sunset. Ahead of them was a ragged line of Langstranders, and behind the green column from Pinnath Gelin marched in step.

To Sharvili's relief, the stables turned out to be on the sixth level and he didn't have to walk all the way to the top. After the horses were cared for, most of the hillmen chose to go down and see this strange city where houses touched wall to wall. They marveled at men crowded so close together. Some of them Sharvili called neighbors because it took him less than entire morning to ride over for a visit.

Sharvili considered staying with the horses. But if the stables was all he would see of Minas Tirith, how was he to put the city in his songs? He followed the group down the steep street. Downhill, that was always the worst. It's been ten years since the accident, but walking never got any less painful. Sharvili found himself falling behind. His comrades went on, full of excited talk about the day and its marvels. If they noticed his absence at all, they thought that he chose to give his leg a rest.

But he didn't. Too proud to call after them, he set his teeth tight, and locked his fingers around the dagger hilt, and walked down the dark, echoing street with a steady step.
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Postby Errand » Mon Sep 27, 2004 2:30 pm

"... and so the barracks are actually for half the men we have...."

"So the kid starts wielding this pitchfork around like he's some... some... goddam master of pitchforks, hell I've never seen anything..."

"... screw you, pal, I sleep on the top bunk!"

"... obviously a Bree-forged blade, anywhere from the last four to seven years by the smith Malach, though judging from the slight hitch here in the hilt..."

Tri-Captain Dorn of Black Company walked in the midst of the barracks assigned to his troops. He picked up the everyday conversations of hardened fighting men amongst the din and clamor. But sometimes, he could just make out someone crying, very faintly. Elsewhere, stifled sobs, despairing sighs, hushed, whispered conversations of longing for homes they might never make it back to.

They were young men, barely out of childhood. They were husbands and fathers with family. They were farmers, fishermen, cooks, candlemakers... but they were not soldiers. These were the strays that had tagged along with Black Compmany on the journey to Minas Tirith. They had chosen to defend Gondor with whatever they could. The Tri-Captains had taken pity on them and chose to let them come along and then part ways once in the city. Unfortunately, the officials had lumped both strays and Black Company troops together.

"For better or for worse, they're part of the Company, for now." Tristan popped up out of nowhere. As he usually did.

Dorn nodded once, an impassive look on his face. "Inform the men that we'll begin drills tomorrow at the crack of dawn. I expect every man to be dressed and prepared before then. There will be consequences for any man who shows up late for any reason outside of death."

"No sense in wasting time!" Tristan agreed, clapping his fellow Tri-Captain on the shoulder. "We'll whip them into shape if it kills them. I should tell Lyle first, though."

Dorn shook his head. "He's had to take care of some matters."

"Speaking of matters, I'll have to check my bank account. My investments probably doubled in the last few months and I'll have to transfer them someplace else."

"So you're expecting defeat?" Dorn asked, though a small smile played about his bluff face. "You're a faithless man, Tristan."

The younger Tri-Captain scoffed at that. "Please, Dorn. Of course I believe we'll win, though not without some scratches. And frankly, you know how the value of gold goes down if it's tarnished a bit."

And with that, he stepped lightly out, leaving Dorn with a grin.
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Postby LadyElessar » Mon Sep 27, 2004 2:38 pm

It was a temporary disfigurement, he knew, but the large purplish bruise over Aethelbart’s left eye obscured the delicate features of his face so much that many a passersby on the street winced upon seeing him as he sauntered down the levels of the stone city, part of the disjointed column of Lamedoni that made its way down the streets. The eye had gone from an inflamed crimson color, swollen shut days ago to a dark blackish-blue, in which there were now shades of purple and gold. His vision was still less than perfect and the exquisite features of the city, the arched streets and fair alleys lit with lamps, were obscured from him.

“Come now, Dacus – what’s that up there?” he called to the ragged youth that followed at his heels.

“Just an inn, sir,” the raven-haired boy replied breathlessly, trotting to keep up with Aethelbart’s lanky stride and still manage his belongings. Since they had entered the city it had gone like this, inquiring about everything from passerbys on the street to what was down the next alley. Dacus wondered just what he could see. Aethelbart fixed his good eye on the building of weathered gray stone as if doubting the youth’s judgment.

“Right then,” he relented, looking back to the struggling boy. “Elek, give him a hand, will you?” he sighed, turning to a boy several years Dacus’ elder but a boy nonetheless, who walked behind Aethelbart with wide eyes. The largest building he’d ever seen prior to today had been the stone edifice Aethelbart and his family resided in back in Lamedon. Rarely did he set foot in his landlord’s home, toiling instead in the fields he owned and dwelling in his family’s own cottage down the hill. The buildings that surrounded Elek now were like three of his own homes, plus two of Aethelbart’s stacked one on top of the other. Could Aethelbart even see them? he wondered. Surely the enormous city was a sight even for him to behold, but he had said little since they entered the city. “If you see an apothecary -” Aethelbart started, but before he could finish a young man of larger build fell into stride with him.

“We’ll tell you ‘Bart,” the man, who was clothed in the same dignified raiment as Aethelbart, grinned. “Now just think – had you kept your mouth shut, you’d be able to enjoy the city.” Aethelbart scowled at the man, the closest thing he had had to a neighbor back home, but hardly someone he would consider a friend. Like Aethelbart, he had a boy of no more than sixteen years trailling him down the city streets as he had trailed since they left Lamedon.

“I will not fight alongside them,” Aethelbart motioned to the ragged group of hillmen who walked several lengths in front of him. They were large, burly men, uncouth and unlearned, who rode atop shaggy uncombed beasts they called horses. No more than a rabble of barbarians and peasants he deemed them, unlike him and Alwin - even Dacus and Elek - in every way. What they had to do with Gondor he still could not understand. He fixed his eye on the pitiful fellow in front of him, who walked with a decisive limp, the one who had hardly stopped singing since they set out. The one Aethelbart had wanted to punch. He moved his hand back up to the disfiguring bruise above his eye that was still tender to the touch.. “To that I hold true.”
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Postby corintur » Tue Sep 28, 2004 3:20 am

A few minutes after Serad was put in the room he heard a key being put into the lock, three different soldiers came in, Serad had a feeling that they did have some people to spare...

"So, tiny" said the soldier to Serad with a smile, "if you just tell us how many there are and where are they planning to attack from you might just stay unbrused"

"What? I have no idea what you are talking about, I'm not a spy! I deserted weeks ago!" replied Serad.

"You want it the hard way I guess" said the first soldier, "Amor, go ahead." The second soldier came forward, aimed his fist and punched Serad straight in the nose.

Serad smiled inside and thought, 'is this all that they got?' He straightened his face and looked back at soldier number 1.

"Hmm, it seems he thinks he's tough, let's see" he took out his sword and held it in his hand's.

"So are you a spy?" he said.

"Please, I'm telling you - I'm not a spy! I left the Harradrim weeks ago, as we were coming north. I don't want to fight you! I don't want to fight anyone! Please, let me go on my way!" said Serad.

"Yes, that's what you keep saying, tiny!” soldier number one sneered. “And wouldn't we be the idiots to believe it? Not likely! Now come on, tell us how you got across the river, and how many of you are there?"

The soldier raised his sword and smacked Serad on the side of the head with the flat of the sword. Serad's head started to hurt but it wasn't too bad.

“Here, that’s no way to treat a man, even if he be a spy!” A voice cried out "if he has information to give up, you’ll knock it clean out of his head, if you don’t knock him unconscious first!”

Soldier number one looked at the source of the voice and so did Serad, it was a soldier, this time a good hearted one.

Soldier number one replied “He’ll wish he was unconscious if he don’t spit out all he knows, by the time we’re through with him! Now, back off lad, unless you want some of the same.”

The soldier took a step forward but two other men stopped him, they looked different, as if they have gone through two life times in their short lives. One of them whispered something to him, he couldn’t catch it.

At that moment, two figures stepped through the doorway into the already crowded room.

“What’s going on here?” the shorter of the two growled, wearing the insignia of captain. “Isn’t it enough that we have the enemy at our doorstep, without you lot circling round all stiff legged like a bunch of mangy dogs quarreling over a bone? Here, you bunch, where’d you come from? Your Lord Faramir’s men, ain’t ye? Is he come then?”

"We are Lord Faramir's men, I am Herenyar, we come from the east bank and we have news of the enemy’s forces." Said Herenyar.

"Wait" said the captain. "You three, get out." He pointed at Serad's torturers.

"But sir..." Said soldier number one trying to protest.

"No but's, NOW." Replied the captain. The three soldiers left not before number one whispered to Serad, "don't worry, we will be back"
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Postby Wasara » Tue Sep 28, 2004 6:09 am

Herenyar was the first to answer:"Lord Faramir shall come,sir,but he is making consultations with High Command and seeking advice from Lord of Minas Tirith.And I say this:as he is,he is always there were mostly needed...."

Beside him he catchs sight of the three gondorian standing in some kind of hastly attention and southron,bending in drastic manner toward the floor coughing out the blood.

He continues"...sir,we have whole Green Company here and got orders to subordinate to your command till Lord Faramir comes...."How ever being as old warhorse,he hand is shaking as he points aside."...but this..."

Captain breaks with ice cold voice:"I don`t need any advice how to run my command.I know means to handle my men..."He turns toward three."You three!Don`t try my temper,report at once to you posts or you will sorrow that day you were born..."Then he strongly express to his adjutant."Take these men`s names and ranks and see that they do what they were told to do."

As those four disappear to shadows of outhalls,temporary silent falls,only faint sniffles of mugged southron were heard.Captain turns hasty and make some steps and then back.His eyes are sparkling but his voice is bit warmer when he utters:"You see,my men have been under continous press of Saurons hordes.This war is ruthless.I have been on many campaings but I haven`t seen anything like this.Saurons tongue is two ways as snakes one.There is said,that on the Southern borders brothers are against brothers.Enemy is very bold,very vicious as there is somekind twisted spirit leading them.It is known that recently there is new lord in Minas Morgul.Ones are referring to ancient annals that it is Lord of Nine Living Deads...I don`t know...I hope that...I wish Boromir was here..."

Thorgrond steps out the shadow:"Sir,we know everything what this poor man would tell by force or not.The strong outfit of Haradrim has made it to east bank.This man is apparently one of them.We don`t know his intentions,but for good sake,sir,don`t haunt Barad Dur`s methods.This is Saurons work in disguise"

At same time Denegal reached towards Shoutron and help him to stand.

Suddenly door breaks with thunder and lightning and four human heads with Saurons lidless eye on forehead rolls into hall....this is followed of burst by red,black feathered arrows...
Last edited by Wasara on Wed Sep 29, 2004 4:05 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Frelga » Tue Sep 28, 2004 1:18 pm

Sharvili decided that he didn't mind walking alone. The pain in his leg was there, but it was always there, no better and no worse than usual. He looked at the giant houses and wondered about the men who lived inside, and where their food came from each day, and how they kept all that stone warm in winter. The starless sky was spread above like raven's wings. Only a few lamps burned, and their yellowish light seemed to slide off the smooth stone of the house walls and trickle down the carved runes and figures.

Behind him, there were footsteps and several voices. Turning to look, Sharvili saw some of the valley-folk who rode with them from Lamedon. He could not see the face of the tallest lowlander, but there was no mistaking him. That was the same beanpole of a boy who stomped over to their campfire a few nights back, demanding that Sharvili stop singing. Sharvili, who was often asked to sing and rarely to stop, only laughed, and Vano the peacemaker moved to offer the boy a wineskin. Trouble was, the lowlander kept talking and the word that came out was "dirty". Dirty what, Sharvili never heard because his neighbor rushed at the boy with a roar. One of Aksu men, that was, as tall as the boy and twice as wide. By the time they pulled the two apart, neither was clean and the boy was one eye to the worse.

Sharvili chuckled, remembering the scene and the talking-to they all got from Vano afterwards. Then it occurred to him that it was not perhaps the best place for him to be, in the dark, alone in the strange place, and five of his unfriends behind him. Sharvili shrugged, not too concerned. Even the oldest two were not old enough to be counted as men, and the three ragged, panting boys who trotted behind were mere children. He moved his hand off the dagger hilt to loosen the sword in its sheath. Then his attention returned to the house on his right, where a garland of marble roses wreathed the gates, with no sign of living greenery to rival it. But in the back of his mind he was always aware of the footsteps behind him.
Last edited by Frelga on Tue Oct 05, 2004 8:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby samsmyhero » Sat Oct 02, 2004 7:28 pm

Denegal felt the shock of the thunder shake his body, the lightning flash in the dimness of the room temporarily blinding him. He had no time to comprehend the sight which met his returning vision a second later, the heads rolling to a stop near his feet, when, as he looked down, he saw also the shaft of an arrow protruding from his right thigh. Then the pain hit, and he howled out involuntarily. The tiny room then erupted into noise and confusion as the Captain rushed out, shouting orders and Herenyar and Thorgrond rushed to Denegal's side. More soldiers came pouring out of the back rooms of the building in response to their captain's insistent shouting out in the courtyard. A few stopped in momentary bewilderment at the sight of the severed heads, but most simply ran out, hurriedly strapping on armor and weapons.

As the room cleared, Denegal slumped against the wall. His head was light and his thinking blurred, and as a tunnel of darkness closed in around him, his last clear vision was of the southron prisoner gazing at him with concern.

*******

"Soldier, soldier, are you back with us yet? Eh, can you hear me? Soldier, wake up!" The heavily accented speech, though in the common tongue, sounded very far distant in Denegal's ear. It was hard to hear, too, over the rushing of the ocean in the background. Denegal groggily considered why he was at the ocean - perhaps he was on holiday, visiting his grandparents once more. No . . . wait, hadn't his grandfather passed on some years ago? And now his grandmother lived with his sister and her family? It all seemed so confusing. What he really needed now was just to sleep a bit. Yes, sleep. That would do the trick. Just a few minutes . . .

*********

"Denegal, Denegal!" The voice was insistent. "Denegal . . . can you hear me? Denegal! . . . It's no use, the shock is still affecting him. He lost a lot of blood. Come, we must get back to the outer city ruins. We'll just have to leave him again and hope for the best." The familiar voice, and a second one with a different accent, trailed off.

**********

"Soldier, are you awake? Hey, wake up there! Sit up, and come over here. Your wound is bad, very bad. It's bleeding again and the bandage is soaked through. I would change it but I can't reach you. You'll have to crawl over here to me."

Once again the heavily accented tongue sounded in Denegal's head. This time it was a bit clearer, and the sound of the sea had disappeared. Denegal realized he had his eyes closed and he tried to open them, but the lashes seemed fused together. His mouth was dry, so dry. It seemed he hadn't drank in a hundred years. Sit up? Yes. If he could just sit up, then he could find something to drink. He rolled onto his side and cried out at the searing flame that shot through his entire right side. Of a sudden, it all came rushing back to him. The run down the River to Osgiliath, the southron prisoner, the lightning and thunder, and . . . the heads! Oh, god, the heads! What had happened? And the flight of arrows, one finding its place in his leg. Where were Herenyar and Thorgrond, and the other rangers? Had the enemy finally launched its attack? And where was he - who was it that had spoken? He must open his eyes.

This time, he found there was no obstruction. His eyelids fluttered open and he stared out into the dimness of the same little room into which he had first entered . . . how long ago was it now? He had no idea.
Still on his side, he looked about him and saw the sole other occupant of the room. The southron prisoner was still there, tied to the same chair. Denegal was laying where he had fallen, close to the huge man. Things must be pretty hot out there in the ruins, he thought to himself, for them to have just left me here. With the supernatural gloom that had descended, it was impossible to say what time of day, or night, it might be.

Glancing down at his leg for the first time, Denegal saw a hasty bandage made of a torn bit of blanket tied over the wound with a piece of twine. The arrow's shaft still protruded from the wound. For a moment, Denegal was furious that his companions hadn't even stopped to remove it. Then he noticed the blood. The bandage was soaked through and a puddle had formed under his thigh, pooling up on the stone flags of the floor. He understood. There had been no time to remove the shaft and make sure that the bleeding stopped. So they must have left it in, thinking to at least minimize the flow of blood. The sight of his own blood raised a wave of nausea in the young soldier, and he made a retching sound, trying to keep his stomach contents intact.

"Hey, soldier! What's your name? You need help. Otherwise, you're going to bleed to death!" Denegal looked up at the massive Southron, tied up and unable to move more than his hands and feet.

"Where are the others, the two who came in with me? Do you know where they went? How long have I been unconscious? What's going on out there?" Denegal asked his questions with urgency, the pain making him wish he could pass out again. At least then he wouldn't feel anything.
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Postby Wasara » Mon Oct 04, 2004 6:22 am

Once Thorgrond recovered from the flash and rolling heads he saw behind smoke that whole oaken door was in pieces.He saw captain running out of it.At his feet Denegal was lying on the floor compressing his leg with his both hands.Between the hands sprawled a red arrow.Quickly Thorngrond ripped a strip from discarded blanket with his knife and made hasty bandage above of the wound.While doing it he said to one stunned young soldier:"Young man,take care of this man and see that he shall not bleed to death.Tight the bandage when ever needed.We can only hope that arrow was not poisoned."

Then as in mutual order Thorgrond and Herenyar ran after captain and at their heels followed couple of his men.They reached the captain who was standing like astounded in out hall.There were two of his men lying with ugly battle wounds while others were guarding him.On the door of the hall stood huge orc with red axe and behind him were band of little smaller of his kinds.Evidently they were Uruk-hai with lidless eye on their helmets and leathered chest armour.Like in one order Herenyar and Thorgrond drew their swords and drifted toward captain.He shouted in rage:"You Sons of Darkness!...One for Gondor!" and rushed recklessly with high risen claymore toward enemy.Other orcs shrieked supportively as their chief swung his mighty weapon to lethal blow.In wink of the eye Thorgrond reached back of his right shoulder and slung the dagger right into chief orcs right eye.Axe clanged to the floor while chief tumbled on his knees holding his head.Orc roared and shaked his head from pain as he drew the dagger from his yellow eye,black blood bursting ferociously around him.Two men led by captain reached the door and with heavy blow captain beheaded the chief orc.With upper swing Thorgrond slashed one orcs stomach and with combinated movement downwards toward orcs right shoulder sliced him in two.Rest of the Uruk-hai did their own conclusions and headed to main entrance as Herenyar slipping on the blooded floor got his bow and couple of quick burst from it pinned down two more.Other orcs left,made it into shadows and after gaining his calmness the captain wiped off the drops of black blood on his face and ordered squad from his astonied men to chase them.

Thorgrond twisted his dagger from orcs cramping hand.At the height of the fighting Herenyar and Thorgrond had forgotten his friend and Shoutron.They asked the permit to see Denegal.Captain,surrounded by his men,uttered hasty pointing aside:"Four of you,take these wounded men to cover and try to heal their wounds.These Uruk-hai were some kind of reckon or light outfit for raiding and these were not all.Our foe is penetrated through our strongholds and I must go to organize our defend.I look forward to see you on the fortifications."


Both men saw his friend lying down the floor his upper body enclosed with blankets and young gondorian was taking care of him.The Shoutron was tied to chair.Donegal`s face was pale and sweaty as he bite his teeth together with agony.

Thorgrond said."I think it is best that not to draw the arrow from the wound.We got no instruments to do that.I fear contamination.It seems there is no poison,not in lethal quantity..."
Last edited by Wasara on Fri Oct 08, 2004 5:09 am, edited 6 times in total.
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Postby LadyElessar » Mon Oct 04, 2004 1:02 pm

Alwin tried to divert Aethelbart’s attention from the hillman walking several paces in front of them, he spoke about the delicious ale they would likely find in the city and even began to hum a drinking song in the hopes that Aethelbart would turn his mind elsewhere. His eyes had been fixed on the man and his broken gait since they started down the street though and Alwin knew it was a futile endeavor. Like most of the other valley-dwellers, Alwin did not share much in common with the hillmen, he thought them rather coarse and a bit uncivilized, but he recognized the need for cooperation in their great enterprise. He found if left alone the hillmen were content to gather in their own camps and leave well enough alone. His friend was quite different. For while the hillmen had done little to offend Alwin, Aethelbart’s resentment, whether real or imagined, ran deep.

He'd still been a youngster when the trouble started and the crooked characters had first appeared at his doorstep. It came to be a regular occurence - when his father left, the men appeared and Aethelbart was left to defend his family from the great brutes who pounded upon the door, and often times him, in demand of his father. Aethelbart had never figured out what business his father had been involved in that kept him away from the estate for such long periods of time, nor why it brought the men to his home. All he knew was that when his father dissappeared for the last time, the visits eventually came to a stop. He never forgot the dirty men who had wreaked such havoc on much of his childhood however.

He swore them to be a grim, wild folk in felt cloaks with wide, square shoulders, and shaggy fleece hats.

The hillman travelling before him turned around suddenly and beneath the droopy hat, his eyes fixed momentarily on Aethelbart. “Stop singing Alwin,” Aethelbart glared at his curly-haired companion, whose harmless ode to ale began to irk him, much like the carefree ditties of the man in front of him had.

“ ‘Bart, it would do you well to…” Alwin tried to suggest what he had tried the entire journy from Lamedon. To leave them alone. To let them be. To move on. To focus on the very real threat they all faced in the coming days.

“To what?” Aethelbart momentarily diverted his attention from the gimpy hillman to his worried companion.

“To put it behind you,” Alwin sighed.

“Put it behind me?” Aethelbart scoffed and turned again to fix his eyes on the hillmen, whose form was shrouded in the growing darkness. The lamps that lined the street did little to lift the darkness from the streets and perhaps it was the cover of darkness that suddenly emboldened him. “I’ll put it behind me,” he snarled, quickening his pace as he closed the gap between him and the hillman. The exhaustion in Alwin’s eyes was echoed in those of the two boys who had too grown tired with Aethelbart’s behavior. They would never say it to him, but they thought it quite foolish. Dacus enjoyed the singing of the one Aethelbart seemed to despise and Elek thought the sturdy, shaggy horses that Aethelbart derided to be quite remarkable. They were sure afoot and could carry twice the weight of the thin, leggy colt that Aethelbart rode.

Both had more than a faint inkling as to where his hostility lay. The seedy activity of his father had been no mystery to anyone in the valley, least of all the tenants who worked his land. First a milk cow would go missing, then a bushel of grapes they meant to take to market. His father racked up enormous debts he soon became unable to pay. And Aethelbart had born the brunt of his mistakes.

Aethelbart denied that his resentment stemmed from the incidents of his childhood, claiming he simply thought the hillmen a dirty thieving bunch. Most of the valley men knew the truth and they had been hard presed to tell Aethelbart to settle down. Did he not deserve to harbor at least some ill will?

As Aethelbart drew closer he looked hard at the hillman, whose shaggy fleece hat, felt cloak and broad shoulders still invoked a fury within him. He ran his tongue through the large gap in his front teeth, a permanent reminder of the blows dealt to him by men cloaked in the very same garb.

“Slow going?” he smirked as he passed the singer by, purposely knocking shoulders with him as he did so. “I did not know they allowed cripples to fight,” he laughed, pleased with himself, as he walked ahead and called for Alwin, Elek and Dacus to join him.

No sooner was the last name out of his mouth however than the full weight of the hillman flew at him like a battering ram.
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Postby Frelga » Tue Oct 05, 2004 3:35 pm

Sharvili did not turn again, but the sounds behind were unmistakable even if he could not make out the words. The older of the two lowlanders sounded for all the world like Vano, trying to talk some sense into a hotheaded youngster. Sharvili heard nothing to suggest that any sense was penetrating the hot head.

One set of footsteps broke off from the rest and approached quickly. So. The fool had decided to seek a quarrel. Sharvili, already short-tempered from the uncomfortable walk, placed his hand on his sword and waited.

It was the sword itself that checked him, the rough feel of the silver-etched hilt. Sharvili's best friend had sent the sword to the battle, when it became clear that his injuries would not allow him to come. Orc blood was on it, and that of other vile creatures that came into the high passes, but never a drop of human blood had slid down the slender blade. He would not defile it now, on the eve of the great battle.

Just as Sharvili removed his hand from the hilt, the lowlander caught up with him, pushing Sharvili aside with his shoulder. The impact forced the hillman to place his full, searing weight on his bad leg.

“Slow going?” the boy smirked. “I did not know they allowed cripples to fight.”

Had the sword still been in Sharvili's hand, those would have been the lowlander's last words. Heedless of pain or prudence, the hillman rushed forward, ramming his shoulder into the boy's middle. His opponent, caught off guard and off balance, stumbled back. Sharvili ducked under the wild punch. Grabbing the lowlander’s cloak, he tripped the boy up and sent him flying to the cobblestones of the street.

From behind came a shout and a rush of footsteps, as the boy's comrade ran to his rescue. There was no help for it now. Sharvili's sword came out, the hill-forged shashkoh. The bluish blade rested on the boy's neck as gently as a lock of hair. Even that light touch had a bite, so sharp the sword was.

"Don't move," Sharvili said softly, barely turning his head to include the older lowlander into the order. His dark eyes were locked with the youth's one-eyed glare. If the lowlander made one foolish move, he would cut his own throat.

"You talk like a hero, yes? All I see you do is talk, and talk is all you know how to do." The hillman's Westron rolled like a river over boulders. "If these two didn't do your cooking, you would starve on the march."

One should not give way to anger or fear when holding such a blade, Sharvili knew, for a sword had a mind of its own, reading the hidden wishes of the wielder. The youth was a fool, as untutored in courtesy as he was in combat. To insult a hillman and not even have a blade in hand, that was the double peak of stupidity. But did it warrant death?

Sharvili lifted the blade and stepped back from his fallen adversary.

"Go on, boy," he said. "Find me after the battle is over. Then maybe you will have something to talk about."
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Postby Errand » Thu Oct 07, 2004 4:20 pm

It was late and Dorn was tired. Finally, everything had settled down in the barracks. Most of the men, with the exception of the other two Tri-Captains, had been accounted for. Now, Dorn strode among the sleeping forms of his men, a stern look upon his face. He stopped in front of one youth who had taken to sleeping on the floor. For a while, the Tri-Captain gazed upon his face, his thoughts unreadable.

"They look more like boys then men, don't they?" An ancient man with downy white beard and hair, shuffled towards Dorn. The venerable gentleman wore a heavy, weatherworn cloak around his thin frame. His face had the look of one who had borne many cares over the years, but
his eyes, a merry green, told that he bore those heavy burdens proudly and with strength. The old man shook his head and smiled sadly at the sleeping form of the youth. "You should have stayed in your farm lad. Married a sweet lass. Lived your life."

He fell silent for a moment, then quirked a brow. "He really does look like a boy."

"That's because he is, Saracen," said Dorn. "Get up, boy."

The lad remained motionless.

"Don't make me lose my patience..."

Slowly, cautiously, the boy, who was clearly not past nine years, opened his eyes. "Aww, and I didn't even find any treasure." he pouted.

"Treasure?"

The boy stood up and nodded proudly. "I heard the Black Company took lots of gold and jewels from a dragon's lair once."

"Well..." Dorn scratched his chin

"And my father said they probably take merchant's moneys off the highways."

"Now that's not..."

"And they loot and plunder all sorts of villages and take the women away to-"

Saracen chuckled while Dorn hurriedly shoved the boy out of the barracks. "It seems the reputation of Black Company could use some improvement." he said. "Speaking of improvement my perception could certainly use some as well."

"Nonetheless, what you said was true," Dorn replied, shutting the door. "Now that that's out of the way, have you something you needed to tell me?"

"No, no. These old bones just don't want to sleep tonight, never you mind."

The Tri-Captain looked at Saracen thoughtfully. "You once told me you couldn't sleep well in the days before a storm..."

Without a word, the old man turned his face to the east. Dorn followed suit. A wind arose, cold and shuddering against the walls. For a long moment, both men faced the east silently, each deep in their innermost thoughts.

"His reach has grown long, I'm afraid." said Saracen. He shook his head and broke from his reverie. "I won't be sleeping tonight. Well, all the better to think up some plans."

Dorn nodded and turned away. "Goodnight, Master Tactician."

As the moon faded away, Saracen stood by the dark window in his room, looking out into the east. No plans entered his minds, and he could not think up any new strategies. It seemed to him as if the wind from the east was sweeping them all away.
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Postby samsmyhero » Thu Oct 07, 2004 10:11 pm

Thorgrond and Herenyar had left Denegal once more with great reluctance. Under the circumstances, there was little they could do for him. He lay still unconscious and the best they could do was to leave things be and hope the blood loss would not be too great. They were needed at their posts as the fighting was continuing on unabated. Even the young soldier who at first watched over Denegal was needed elsewhere and had to leave his charge. When Denegal finally came to, he found himself alone save for the prisoner.

The southron opened his mouth to reply to the wounded soldier's anxious questions. But before a word could escape his lips, an ear shattering explosion rocked the building and the chair to which he was bound went crashing sideways to the floor. One whole wall of the room came tumbling about them both, rocks, mortar and wooden beams falling like some errant child's tower of blocks pushed petulantly aside. On top of all lay a boulder the size of a table, covered with pitch and burning fiercely. The flames licked at the feet of the big Haradrim, and he struggled to move the chair away from the deadly fire. Even as big as he was though, the chair was stout and heavily crafted, and he was only able to budge it a scant few inches. The toes of his boots were starting to smolder. The man looked at Denegal, their faces now only inches apart. "Please, untie me! You must, for both our sakes. You will never be able to get out of here by yourself. Please, hurry!"

Denegal stared back into the other's dark eyes. They were very round with alarm, but no trace of fear showed there. Denegal understood perfectly the situation. If he didn't untie the so-called spy, the man would surely perish in the flames. And if he himself had no assistance to climb through or over the rubble and debris, he too would certainly meet his demise within a few minutes. Yet if he did untie the other, there was no guarantee that he would not just cut and run, and leave Denegal to his fate anyway. He would be releasing an enemy soldier on his unsuspecting comrades at arms. The young soldier hesitated, searching the other's face for some sign, some promise of a mutually recognized brotherhood when facing such a dilemma.

Through his hesitation, Denegal smelled the scorching leather -the Haradrim's boots were actually burning. The man grunted but did not cry out. That was enough. Denegal strained to pull himself up into a half sitting position, his leg burning with its own fire. He leaned over as far as he could reach, just able to grab the rope securing the southron's right wrist to the arm of the chair. Gritting his teeth against the pain, and hoping fervently that he wouldn't pass out, he fumbled with the cords. But the guards had been conscientious in making sure their prisoner wouldn't escape, and Denegal couldn't get them to budge. "I can't untie them! They're too tight!" Denegal's voice sounded harsh and dry.

"A knife! Do you have a knife?" The Haradrim's voice was steady but urgent.

Denegal felt at his belt, under his tunic. Gods be praised! His meat knife was still where he had pushed it so thoughtlessly when last he had eaten – when was that? It seemed like many weeks ago now, though it must have just been yesterday evening – that vile stew! Quickly, he pulled it out and began sawing at the ropes. The blade wasn't the sharpest, as it wasn't meant to be a weapon, but still he was making progress. Not fast enough however.

"My feet! Quickly! You must free them first!" The southron's voice was starting to get a definite edge to it. Denegal saw how stupid he was being – trying to free the man's hands when his feet were on fire! He struggled forward yet another few inches, although the heat from the fire was getting fiercer by the second. Stretching as far as possible, he managed to slip the knife blade between the right boot and the cord. Bringing all his strength to bear he wrenched upward as hard as he could and miraculously, the rope came away with a satisfying 'snick'. The Southron immediately pulled his foot away from the chair leg, although the leather was alight and smoke was rolling off it.

"Watch out, man, or you'll set my hair on fire!" Denegal turned his head to keep the smoke from his eyes.

"So sorry, yes! But, please, the other one, quickly!"

Denegal turned back to the flames, the heat washing in waves over his face. Once more, he wiggled the blade between boot and rope and with another mighty tug, that rope too fell to the ground. The big man let out a whoosh of air in relief, and curled his legs back over his head. In other circumstances, it would have been comical, the contortions of a tumbler or mummer. But as his boots still burned, Denegal knew he had to get the ropes of the man's wrists – and fast!

Mustering his resolve a final time, the young soldier slid his knife into the ropes ensnaring the Haradrim's right hand. One last wrenching heave and the hand was free. Denegal pressed the knife into the other's hand, and the man in turn had his left hand freed in a heartbeat. Jumping up, the Haradrim grabbed up the remaining bit of blanket from which Denegal's bandage had been hastily torn. He quickly smothered the fire playing around his boot tips. He turned back and stared down at the young Gondorian, the knife edge gleaming in the light of the flames.
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Postby corintur » Mon Oct 11, 2004 11:24 am

As the soldier freed Serad's right arm Serad took the knife from the soldier's hands and cut loose his left hand, he then extinguished the fire on his boot's using the remaining bit of blanket. He turned back and stared at the young Gondorian, the knife edge gleaming in the light of the flames. Serad stared at the soldier, he looked him up and down and spotted his wound, remembering the fire, the wound and all that has happened he bent down handed the knife back to the soldier who tucked it in his belt and easily picked up the young soldier with one hand, he put him over his shoulder gently and turned away from the fire and towards the exit. As Serad walked out of the door the whole ceiling of the room collapsed.

Serad decided to get out of the building quickly, he found the exit and they were out to the fresh air, well, not so fresh, it was more a mixture of smoke, blood and sweat than air. He placed the soldier gently on his back and examined the wound.

Serad quietly tore a piece of the blanket off and placed it over the wound.

"AHHHH" Screamed out the soldier, "It's too tight!" he said.

"Do you want to die of blood loss?" asked Serad peacefully.

"No, all right, do whatever it takes..." replied the soldier. Serad quickly tied the blanket.

"I think we were off for a bad start, my name is Serad" he offered his hand.

"Hello Serad, the name's Denegal" and they shook hands.

"Thank you for saving me back there" said Serad.

"I think I'm the one who should thank you" replied Denegal and he eyed Serad’s clothes "I think you should get out of those clothes if you want to stay a free man."

Serad looked down at his clothes "you're right, but where can I find a uniform?"

"Well actually, you could probably find some in the building you just came out of" he said and pointed back to the entrance.

"Hmmm, it means going back in there, but I guess I can't really walk around like this" said Serad, "don't go anywhere..."

Serad got to his feet and strode back into the burning building. He heard Denegal calling out after him "It should be in the third room to the left" Serad quickened his pace as he passed the first room where he was held captive, he past the second room and entered the third. The room was not burning, Serad spotted the uniforms at once and he started going through them in search of something that would fit him, it took him a while and it wasn’t exactly a perfect match but Serad was dressed like a Gondorian soldier.

The room was also the weaponry and Serad was about to take a sword although he hated them, he always had trouble with swords, they were to small for him to handle, he searched the room in search of a different weapon when he saw it, in the corner of the room, leaning on a wall were a shield and a axe, a big double bladed axe, his axe. He quickly went over and picked them up, he strapped the axe and shield on his back and he turned to leave the room, the corridor was full of smoke so Serad ran his way out trying not to breathe. He came out and took a big breath of air and looked down at the wounded Denegal.

"So what now?" He said.
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Postby samsmyhero » Fri Oct 15, 2004 1:59 pm

The flickering glow of many wall sconces lit the room with an unnatural light, a pale mimicry of the daylight which should have been streaming through the high, open windows. Even within the Houses of Healing, the black spells of the Dark Lord held sway, and mid-morning assumed the garb of midnight. Since the failing of the dawn yesterday, a mantle of gloom had covered the city. Men despaired to ever see the sun again. The White City seemed to be holding its breath, waiting for the onslaught.

Denegal lay restlessly tossing back and forth on the narrow pallet. Its softness brought him little comfort, as he relived the nightmare of Osgiliath. Frequently, the face of Serad loomed large, larger than life, his dark eyes taking on the proportions of deep, bottomless pits. Denegal heard himself sceaming over and over, "Don't leave me! Don't leave me!", and in his dream, the wall of the guard room came crashing down about his ears, the flames leaping all around him. As his flesh began to burn, he would wake with a groan, the fever racking his body, causing his head to throb and his ears to ring. He thought he heard a sound so horrible, so fell that his hands flew to cover his ears, but then he realized he was no longer in Osgiliath, the beast no longer flew overhead, causing all to cower like miserable cravens on the ground, casting their weapons aside and weeping like babes.

Opening his eyes, Denegal saw once again the cool white walls and smelled the spices burning, filling the air with peace and calm. Some art of the healers, no doubt; for within moments, the young Gondorian fell back into sleep, this time not so troubled, as the healers' medicines worked against the orc poison in his wound.

His dreams took on a softer tone, as if he were looking through a mist at happenings far away. Serad throwing him across his massive shoulders, running through the destruction and rubble, away from the noise of intermittent fighting, finally ending up being laid in the back of a wain filled with other wounded men and rumbling endlessly back to Minas Tirith. His consciousness had come and gone during the journey, so their were many gaps for which he had no memories. But somehow he had ended up within the City walls, taken to the Houses of Healing, and being tended to for the poison which had by then worked its way throughout his body. Whether Serad had made the entire journey undetected as a Haradrim deserter was one of the gaps in Denegal's memory. All he knew was that he owed the huge man his life.

Denegal woke with a start, crying out, "Serad!"

As if by a magic summoning, a white robed healer appeared at his side. "Yes, my son? You spoke – can I bring something for you?"

"My friend, where is he? How fares he? What day is this? How long have I lain here?"

"Quiet, now. Lay back, my son. Your wound was grievous. The poison had taken firm hold by the time you reached us and we feared it was too late. But there is one here who is particularly well studied in dealing with the orcs' foul poisons. Lucky for you, she was able to draw it out. You should mend just fine, although you'll have a good limp for some time. Now, as for your friend, I'm sorry, I know not where or how he fares. You seemed to be alone when they first brought you in. But what is his name again, perhaps I can inquire if he is here too?" The old man sighed. "I'm afraid there are already many here needing our care. The rumors fly even now that Osgiliath is in great peril. Things are looking bleak indeed. Yesterday morn the sun refused to show itself and since then has hidden itself from the dark one, and you have lain here since yesterday evening."

Denegal gasped in dismay. "I must get up and report to whatever captain I may find soonest. I must get back to Cair Andros and render what assistance I may!" He made as to stand but the pain in his leg was still great and he gritted his teeth with the effort.

"No, my son! Lay back, lay back! Your time will come sooner than you think. I don't doubt that within the coming days we will see things which we can't even imagine in our worst nightmares. But for now, there is nothing you can do. We all wait and prepare as best we can."

The healer looked at Denegal curiously. "Cair Andros, you said? But I thought you were brought from Osgiliath? Captain Faramir has finally returned from whatever missions his father sent him on and he himself came from the northern island, or so I've heard. The men of the city have been greatly cheered by his return, and it was the white rider himself who rode out, alone, to fend off the dark beast and its evil master so that Faramir might gain the city gate." The healer shuddered involuntarily.

"Enough of this In any event, soon enough every man drawing breath will needs arm himself with whatever weapons come to hand and make his stand beside his comrades. Save your strength for then."

Denegal rose despite his pain and the healer's pleadings and hopped on his good leg to the window. He looked out across the great city, dark as night, and saw fires burning far out by the rammos. He wondered sadly where Serad and Herenyar and Thorgrond were, and if they still lived, and if he would ever see them again. Grimly he surveyed the already crowded room, the floor covered with pallets on which lay the wounded, some almost certainly mortally, from the fighting at Osgiliath. What tomorrow might bring, he shuddered to think. He pondered the wisdom of the healer's words, and deliberated on what his best course of action was.
Last edited by samsmyhero on Fri Jan 14, 2005 10:06 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Postby Errand » Tue Oct 19, 2004 2:46 pm

Breakfast was a rushed affair, many of the soldiers still dressing on arrival to the mess hall with predictable results. The newcomers to Black Company were issued with standard Gondorian arms and weaponry taken from the Minas Tirith armory. Some of the helmets didn't quite fit right, and a few swords were found to be rusted beyond use, but eventually the troops were equipped properly.
So the Company set out well before the crack of dawn, marching half-heartedly through the cold, empty streets of the city and towards the great gates. Tendrils of mist floated with the east wind, langurously writhing in the early morning chill. Their brief touch sent a shiver down the spines of men and some wondered if even now the Dark Lord was testing their worth, probing for weaknesses.

Once they had gained permission to go out, the Company marched on a while until they were well within the Pelennor fields.

"I see they repaired the Rammas Echor," Tristan remarked, looking at the great wall encircling the field. It was built to protect Minas Tirith and the outlying towns from invasion.

"I believe it's more of a gesture than a true defense," said Lyle, reigning in his white steed. "When it was first built, there were several hundred men alone just as lookouts. We don't have the manpower to spare these days."

Dorn nodded. "Just so. Every officer I've spoken to tell me the deciding battle will be here, in the Pelennor fields. If the enemy breaks through, than the White City will fall in a matter of days."

"Unless the Rohirrim come."

The three captains turned to the voice. A man of moderate height, with less than moderate hair, came riding up besides them.

"Lieutenant Ran." Lyle acknowledged. "Good morning. I didn't see you at all yesterday."

"I was looking around," the dark clothed man replied casually. "Their forces are stretched kind of thin between here and Osgiliath. From what I could hear, things are touch and go over there. Faramir won't be coming back soon."

"Our loss." Lyle said. "He could have done wonders for morale."

"My morale would prefer a thousand Riders, frankly," quipped Tristan. "Ran, you mentioned Rohan, any news?"

The lieutenant shook his head. "Nothing definite, but it's not a longshot. There's a lot of history between Gondor and Rohan, it's not so easy to overlook."

Tri-Captain Dorn gave a tight smile. "War has a way of changing memories. Well, we'll prepare for the worst and hope for the best."

"Naturally." Tristan added drolly.

They troops settled and awaited the training exercises for the morning.
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Postby LadyElessar » Wed Oct 20, 2004 6:18 am

He could still feel the cold metal of the blade long after it had left his throat. Aethelbart remained splayed on the stone for a moment, after the hillman had gone, his hand resting on his neck. Alwin and the three boys stood before him and Aethelbart saved himself the lecture he was likely to get from Alwin as he stomped to his feet and began marching back up the city streets. With none too loud a sigh and a roll of their eyes, Dacus and Elek turned to follow him up the streets they had just travelled down, but Alwin moved a hand onto the eldest’s shoulder.

“Let him be,” he gave a tiny shake of his head. “He will do no more harm to himself tonight,” he watched Aethelbart march defiantly against the crowd of soldiers moving down the streets. The slightest bit embarrassed at how easily the hillman had shown him up, Aethelbart, seething with anger, made his way for the one place in this enormous city where he could be comforted.

The stables were packed with horses, housing two to a stall in some instances, horses tethered to posts and crowded in the aisles even. Not one horse was alike and Aethelbart turned his nose up at many of the steeds, small shaggy types that resembled those the hillmen had travelled on. He searched through the long columns for his prize.

Bali had been the only successful thing his family’s estate had born in the past three years. It was Aethelbart who had been in charge of the breeding, he had selected the stud and tended to the mare while she carried him. The spindly-legged colt had at first not been much to look at and he drew more of a curious eye than an admiring one from passerbys. With a broad white face that travelled so far down his nose it reached underneath his muzzle, two high white socks that travelled up to the chesnuts on his rear legs and an eery iridescent blue eye on his left eye that did not match the deep brown of his right, Bali, though unique in many features was hardly a beautiful horse. He had a ruddy brown coat, that never quite shone the brilliant red of other bays no matter how Aethelbart brushed him. Even his neatly combed black mane fell to the left, a characteristic most horseman deemed an ill omen. Aethlbart loved him all the same however, for he took such care of the horse that any real horsemen could see past the horse’s unmatching eyes to see he was a specimen of remarkable confirmation and build. Anyone who saw him run likewise found themselves silenced.

Aethelbart wished for nothing more at the moment then to be able to swing his leg over the animal’s back and parade him down the city streets. Challenge the cocky hillman to a race, to beat him so soundly he would have to admit his inferiority. A time for such games had passed though. That was what Alwin would say to him for entertaining such thoughts. He was not here to play games and start fights. Aethelbart looked through the rows of stabled horses of every shape, size and color. Everything from thick-limbed war horses to spindly-legged horses like Bali gathered under the same roof.

Running a hand along his smooth coat, Aethelbart leaned his weight against the standing horse, resting his head on the his side and draping his arms around Bali’s back. Perhaps he would just sleep here tonight, like this, while Bali stood watch. He’d done it many a time before. Rested for so long against the horse’s body that he had awoken the next morning in the stall with him. Maybe he would do so tonight. The stableboy out front certainly could not stop him.

“Would you like me to stay with you tonight?” Aethelbart rubbed the horse’s back, his word’s muffled against him. “It is a strange city,” he spoke quietly and anyone who heard him in the stables would have difficulty determining whether he spoke to the horse or to himself. He patted the horse again and gave a peaceful sigh, content for now. “I shall stay.”
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