The Battle of Celebrant

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The Battle of Celebrant

Post by Guest on Sat Feb 19, 2011 5:25 pm

The dark tower of Orthanc rose just beyond the tall walls that surrounded its grounds. The feet of the Misty Mountains towered beyond. Magorthaen thought it looked like a giant, with the snowy head of the northern mountains and the smaller arms wrapping around Angrenost like it was protecting a treasure. The walls were lined with the standard of the Angrenost Guard: a tall black tower crossed by a sword and axe, and a black key floating within the pinnacle. The sounds of that guard echoed throughout the camp. Magorthaen stood staring at the tower with one hand absent-mindedly rubbing the hilt of his lango, the sword he wore on his left hip. Magorthaen Tunneth had been raised a farmer and a miner, yet he had dreamed of traveling far and wide, of slaying orcs and evil men that had long threatened the lands of civil people. The Angrenost Guard had seemed the doorway into that world, though his father had warned him against raising his hopes. Minohtar Tunneth had served the Guard for nine years, and he claimed that it was nothing more exciting than “babysitting a dull rock.”

Unlike his father, Magorthaen had no intentions of returning to Ossiras after serving a few “dull” years in the Angrenost Guard. If he was lucky, he would move on to join the army proper, perhaps even serve in Minas Anor. If he was lucky, he wouldn’t return to Ossiras until he was too old to wield the lango. It wasn’t that he hated his old life, or his parents. It was quite the opposite. But Magorthaen knew that there was more out in the world, more that he could obtain than a small farm or a mine. He had already achieved something, in fact. Tearing his eyes away from the tower, Magorthaen pulled the sigil, a ceremonial dagger, from the scabbard hanging on his right hip. It was a sign of his rank as cainenhîr, a promotion he received nearly a year ago, at the beginning of his second year of service. He was now the leader of a tulkarim, a squad of sixteen infantry men. His father, Minohtar, had risen further during his nine years, but Magorthaen intended to rise farther still.

Magorthaen swiftly replaced the dagger and turned to face the Camp of the Guard, as it was called by the soldiers who manned it. The numbers of the Angrenost Guard were small, and there was little need for fortifications when Orthanc could not even be entered by one of the Guard. It was the work of the Numenoreans when they had first arrived in Middle-earth, in the beginning of the Second Age. Nothing could harm the tower, which left many of the Guard wondering why they were even here. The key to the tower was held by the Steward of Minas Anor. Magorthaen didn’t care about the why’s or the wherefore’s; he was just glad to be out in the world. Even if his first step was the dwindling Angrenost Guard.

The Camp of the Guard was bustling, with smiths sharpening weapons and cainenhîr shouting orders. Soldiers were crossing the camp to carry out orders or deliver messages. Several horsemen galloped in and out of the camp; Magorthaen assumed they were carrying messages from the surrounding fortresses. There was significantly more activity today than normal, though no one had said anything yet to him.
The Camp of the Guard was small: a few semi-permanent shacks surrounded by rows of tents, large and small. Because of the Guards’ dwindling numbers and constant rotation, it was hard to feel at home there. The rheinhîr said it kept the men from getting soft, whenever he actually visited Angrenost.

Cainenhîr Tunneth,” came a call from a young man running toward Magorthaen. “You are summoned to the command tent, Cainenhîr.” The youth, Torgin, was not yet twenty years of age, and he carried no weapons and wore no armor, not even the standard of the Angrenost Guard. Magorthaen knew that he was relied on only for carrying messages. Torgin was the son of one of the Guards here at Angrenost, and a Dunlending woman from the west. His hair was dark, unlike Magorthaen’s and most of the men of the Guard. Intermarriage between the Gondorians and the Dunlendings was not uncommon, especially not here on the far border of Gondor. But Torgin was treated with disdain by most of the Guard. His own father hardly made an effort to stop it.

“Thank you, Torgin,” Magorthaen said. He gave the dark-haired man a smile and walked briskly passed him. Magorthaen tried not to treat him as the rest of the Guard did, but he had learned it was a mistake to be cornered by him. Torgin, given the opportunity, would never stop talking. Magorthaen realized then that much of the camp was moving in the direction of the command tent. Just over the row of tents he could see the rare banner of Calenhardon: four alternating squares of green and white. Green and then white on the top, with the green square containing a white version of the tower of Orthanc. Then white and green on the bottom. Magorthaen had seen the banner only twice before during his three years at Angrenost. Neither of those visits had been important, beyond the fact that the rheinhîr was actually visiting the fortress. Magorthaen had a feeling that this time would be different. The entire camp was abuzz with activity. The rheinhîr‘s arrival could not be coincidence.

Magorthaen passed by rows of small, one-man tents as he made his way down the central lane of The Camp of the Guard. Ahead, he could just see the command tent, surrounded by mounted soldiers bearing the heinhîr‘s banner. Beyond that were the knotted peaks of the White Mountains, under the shadows of which was his home, Ossiras.

“Have you heard?” Magorthaen turned his head toward the unexpected voice. It was another of the cainenhîr by the name of Amodréd, an annoying man from Pelargir. Supposedly he had left and joined the Guard to avoid trouble with his family. He knew that if he did not humor Amodréd he would not receive an answer.
“No, Cainenhîr Amodréd, I have not heard.” Magorthaen tried to keep the irritation out of his voice, but the man was as hard to like as Torgin.
“Ardaric Harnastin, the rheinhîr himself, has come bearing a command for our garrison. No one has heard what it is, but he demanded to speak with Turmahîr Hammar immediately. I saw him carrying a scroll case with my own eyes!”
“That does not mean anything, Amodréd. Hîr Harnastin is a margrave of Calenhardon. It is his duty to check in with his garrisons to make sure we are performing properly. His scroll case could contain nothing more than a few simple demands for changes in our leadership, or more recruits. It is likely nothing to be excited about.”
Amodréd shook his head, the loose links of the chain mail hanging from his head clinking as they bounced from his neck. He pulled his helmet on as they neared the command tent. Amodréd was dressed much the same as Magorthaen, wearing a long-sleeved white vest with the standard of the Angrenost Guard, a leather-covered shield with the same standard hanging on his back, and his lango and sigil hanging from his belt.
“We shall see who is right, Magorthaen. We shall see.” They continued the rest of the walk in silence, with more soldiers of Angrenost joining them, even those who had not been summoned. Bearing orders or not, the arrival of the rheinhîr was exciting news.

The leaders of the Angrenost Guard, the cainenhîr and the turmahîr, were filing into the command tent. The soldiers of the rheinhîr were standing in a line on either side of the entryway, spears and shields held in hand, helmeted faces staring forward. It looked as if they weren’t paying attention to anything, but Magorthaen had a feeling that they saw everything around them. The tent was filled with armored men sitting on the dirt floor. Standing toward the back of the tent was Turmahîr Hammar, the current commander of the Angrenost Guard, Rheinhîr Harnastin, and two other men that Magorthaen did not know. One of them wore a white vest with a silver outline of the White Tree; Magorthaen knew that he would be a rochben erui, a veteran cavalry man who led a cavalry winglet of 40 men. He was tall and handsome, though Magorthaen knew he would be ridiculed by any man in the Guard who heard him admit it. He had a noble look about him. His thick beard was well-trimmed, and his blue eyes seemed to shine with determination and self-righteousness. His well-kempt blond hair fell to his shoulders.

The second man, not as clean or noble looking as the other, had shaggy dark hair only a little longer than the rochben erui’s. He wore a leather jerkin over a white long-sleeved shirt, stained with dirt and a myriad of other substances that Magorthaen could only but guess at. The shield he carried on his back, which Magorthaen could only see because he was facing away from him and speaking with Rheinhîr Harnastin, bore a white horse on an azure field. Magorthaen recognized it as a version of the provincial flag of Dor Rhúnen. Magorthaen suddenly wondered if Amodréd might be right. Dor Rhúnen was in the northern border of Gondor, east of Calenhardon and south of Rhovanion. It was far from Angrenost’s dispute with the Dunlendings. As Magorthaen seated himself on the floor, Rheinhîr Harnastin turned to face the men. He clasped his hands behind his back and stared over the seated soldiers for a few long moments.

“The Angrenost Guard has bravely and loyally defended the western border of Gondor against the threat of the Dunlendings for centuries. Your oaths of fealty, I can see, have not been taken lightly. But now is the time in which I ask you to fulfill that oath to its full intent. The lands north of Dor Rhúnen have been invaded by a massive host of Easterlings. Steward Cirion has ordered a march of both the North and South armies. As a part of the North Army, the Angrenost Guard will be joining the march to repel the Easterling horde. Because of our close proximity to the advancing barbarians, we will have the honors of the first strike! When the South Army arrives they will find a defeated rabble running for their lives from the men who have dedicated their lives to protecting the far reaching borders of Gondor!” A great cheer rose in the tent, and Magorthaen found himself joining in. His head, however, was swirling with mixed emotions and fearful thoughts. They were actually going to war… He had joined the Angrenost Guard for that very purpose, to go out in the world and serve in the glory of Gondor. But his three years at Angrenost had so far shown him an easy life. It seems that everything was about to be turned around.

“You have one week to prepare,” Harnastin continued. “When I return here, we will march north to join the brave men of Aglarond, Lossir, Dunlostir, Calmírië and Onodrith. Men such as yourselves; men who are not afraid to defend their homes!” Another cheer roared through the tent. Harnastin motioned for the man from Dor Rhúnen. “This is Rochben Randir Dringnor, a Heren Requain of the Dringnor family.” Magorthaen recognized the term from his studies here at Angrenost. Harnastin himself was a Heren Requain, an order of knights that contains a long list of noble families, though the list was much shorter than it had been a thousand years ago. While Harnastin was a rheinhîr, a margrave with jurisdiction of the western border of Gondor, Randir Dringnor was simply a rochben, a knight with no official title or holdings in an ennobled family.
Rochben Dringnor will brief you on what is known about the horde.”

Rochben Dringnor stepped forward, his face grim and haggard. Magorthaen assumed he had traveled fast to bring word of the Easterlings. He wondered if the men of Dor Rhúnen had already done battle against them.
“They are called the Balcoth. They are dark men who give their allegiance to the beasts and the shadows. Their hosts are lead by wainriders, much like the Easterlings who invaded in 1856. King Narmacil II was defeated by the wainriders, though they were themselves eventually driven back into the east. They are dangerous, and their numbers are great. Dor Rhúnen has fought numerous skirmishes with them, though they head steadily west and merely skirt our borders. We fear, however, that they will soon turn south to strike at Gondor. I have left instructions with Turmahîr Hammar on the how to best combat the Balcoth, from what we have learned so far. He will instruct you further.”

With that, Turmahîr Hammar stepped forward. He was a man built like a dwarf, though almost taller than any man on the Guard. Numerous scars crisscrossed his face, and his hair was kept short. He was never seen without the lango on his back, the hilt visible over his left shoulder.
“Head straight to the training yards, cainenhîr. Gather your men and take them through the basic routines. Hand out the spears as well. When I get there, I’ll show you what it means to fear the wainriders. Dismissed!”

The men in the tent all stood immediately, saluted, and filed out. Magorthaen’s head was still spinning. In a week they would be marching out, to death or to glory. A week wouldn’t be enough time to send a message to his family. A week would not be enough time for anything but training and dreading. When he returned, if he returned, he knew he would be a different man.

Magorthaen found Anglad, a man of his squad, outside of the tent. “Help me gather the rest of the tulkarim, Anglad. We are heading to the training yards.” Magorthaen sped off without waiting for the inevitable questions.

Last edited by Silvone Elestahr on Sun Feb 20, 2011 1:02 pm; edited 1 time in total


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Re: The Battle of Celebrant

Post by Kalon Ordona II on Sun Feb 20, 2011 5:32 am

"Wh--" Anglad tried to call after Magorthaen, but he was already gone off in one direction to find the rest of their squad. Anglad looked back toward the large tent, then went in the opposite direction. He knew offhand where some of them would be.

Anglad hurried through the camp at Angrenost. The morning sky was overcast. Its mountain air was chill on Anglad's face, but heavy garb and purposeful activity afforded him warmth aplenty. Anglad was conscious of the white vest and its emblem, representing the Angrenost guard and the responsibility he shared with his comrades--a responsibility that suddenly bore greater significance. He wasn't sure yet what was going on, but if Magorthaen's manner was any indication, the meeting just now must have been a matter of some weight. Anglad's blood raced, and not only from his haste.

Anglad was soon passing through rows of small tents. He ducked into one, then paused at finding someone other than its owner within. "Callon?" he asked, puzzled. "Isn't this Menveru's tent?"
Fair-haired and athletic, Callon was about the same age as Anglad, as was Menveru. He stopped his search of the tent and gave Anglad his attention. "Menveru is in the barracks, looking for his helmet. He asked me if I could check and see if he forgot it in his tent." Callon shrugged. "I had nothing better to be at, so I came to look, but it's not here. He'll probably find it at the barracks."
"I see." Anglad nodded. Callon was always helping his comrades one way or another. He was sometimes exploited because of the habit, but he didn't seem to mind. He would offer as often as they would ask. "Well," said Anglad, "Magorthaen wants us to meet him at the training grounds. Something big is happening; I need to gather the rest of us quickly. Could you tell Menveru to meet us?"
"Of course," said Callon.
Anglad turned to leave. "My thanks. Oh, while you're there, would you fetch my spear for me? It would help."
"Ah, certainly," said Callon, brightening.
Anglad nodded his thanks, then ducked out, squinting at the comparative brightness.

He hurried toward the wall, past tents of varying sizes and a few buildings. He knew the spot where he was headed. Once there, he looked up, cupped his hands around his mouth and called. "Darthion!" The husky youth--a year older than Magorthaen--soon came into view. "Meet Magorthaen at the training grounds!" Anglad waited for Darthion's nod, then hurried along the wall toward more tents. Narumir was probably sleeping. Sure enough, when Anglad ducked into his tent, the ruddy youth was asleep on his pallet. Anglad shook him. "Wake, Narumir! Magorthaen needs us to meet him at the training grounds."

Anglad explained the situation succinctly while Narumir equipped himself. "I must go find the others. Meet you there."
"Wait." Narumir caught Anglad by the shoulder before he could leave. "I'll be ready in a moment. I'll go with you."
Anglad acknowledged with a grunt and a nod. Narumir jerked his vest over the mail he wore, put on his helmet, and caught up his cloak. The two ducked out of the tent, and Anglad led the way toward the armory. "Darthion is on his way, and Callon and Menveru should be along soon enough. Magorthaen went in the opposite direction. I think only Brand, Baramir and Arodion are left in this area. Magorthaen will find the others."

It happened, as Anglad had guessed it would, that they found those three together in the armory, maintaining weapons and gear. Anglad and Narumir pulled them from their duties, and ere long they arrived at the training grounds of Angrenost, where they met the previous three. Half the tulkarim was now present, all armed and ready (except Menveru, who was still helmetless). Anglad--spear in hand, thanks to Callon--looked around for their cainenhîr and the rest of the squad. Many other guards had gathered here already, though Anglad's group was still among the first to arrive.
Kalon Ordona II
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Re: The Battle of Celebrant

Post by Blackrock on Mon Feb 28, 2011 5:53 pm

The morning air was chilly and carried with it the harsh memory of winter. The sky hung low above the ground, foul and grey, as if it threatened to engulf all in its misty embrace. It was not a day for work, dark and grim as it was, but for Helmgar son of Aethelred it made no matter. Never would he have gotten far in life if he had not taken chances, if he had stayed and waited for the storms to pass him by. Like all his kin and countrymen, he was cold and harsh and resilient, unbending, unbroken. There had yet to come a day so poor as to force him to remain at his home. There was work to be done and it would be carried out.

This the tall man considered as he surveyed his lands from the hilltop that dominated the region. Once, when his forefathers had settled here, they had chosen this hill and laid the foundations of the very home he now dwelt in. The line of Éohelm did not favour dealings with others; they preferred to focus on their own affairs, undisturbed by man or beast. And so they had settled here, outside the confines of the town which was now Greybarrow. How the times have changed, Helmgar mused as he continued peering into the fields below.

Many houses and holds now dotted the landscape. Areas which had once been barren and devoid of inhabitants were now brimming with activity. His own father had given some of their ancestral lands to new families or settlers from other burgs. And now Helmgar found the once lonely house on the hill surrounded by many others, closing in steadily from the South where Greybarrow lay. He suspected that in his own time, he may have to give out some of his outlying holdings to others. Such was the way Aethelred had taught him; they had plenty and it would be of no use if they hoarded like the wyrms of old.

He then turned to the North, where the mountains loomed over the horizon, bleak and covered in snow. Winter still had everything in its frozen grasp there – cold, unmoving and absolute. The man shuddered unintentionally as he wondered what creatures dwelt there, in the depths of the mountain. Eastwards he then turned, to the Greylin, which was the lifeblood of the surrounding lands. It was swift and powerful, the melting snows having increased its size at least twice. It would be a bountiful year, Helmgar considered; unless snow fell again the harvest would be rich indeed.

“We are ready, father.”

Helmgar turned to look at his son, Léofric, who was leading out two horses with him. The boy had seen fifteen winters and was shaping up as a strong young man. He was shorter than his father, but had already overtaken his mother, while his hands had grown hard and deft from work. He would become a worthy man one day, Helmgar was certain of that.

He took the reins from the boy and patted his mount on the neck, feeling the strong muscle underneath. It was one of the horses Helmgar used to go about his lands, in times of peace. Of smaller stature and lesser breed, it was not exactly fit for battle, but it had plenty of endurance and was a calm, dependable animal. Its black, shaggy coat was beginning to shows signs of shedding, but it was not yet time to fully remove it. Helmgar quietly examined if everything was in check and with one curt nod to himself, he mounted the horse with the practiced skill of a long-time rider.

He looked behind at his son and smiled to himself when he noted how easily the boy mounted his horse, as well. It was already something which came naturally to him, as if he put on a shoe - just as it had to be. Ever so slightly, he tapped the mount on its ribs, urging it into a slow trot. Soon, the four of them – father, son and the two horses - found themselves on the dirt road leading away from their homestead.

“Where are we headed to, father?”

“It is time to see how kind or harsh the winter has been to our crops; I also want to take a look at the river.”

“What about it?” – Léofric asked, as he aligned himself next to Helmgar.

“It has increased in size greatly, I fear that it may overstep its boundaries and cause a flood. We must examine it more closely.” He then added after a pause, “Always be mindful of your surroundings, strive to live by the laws of the land....but do not be afraid to go against them.”

“Yes, father” – the boy nodded once – “Are we going to do anything else today?”

“Hmmmm” – Helmgar coughed, as he wondered – “I had not thought of that; let us see how we fare today. If all goes well, we may visit your uncle; he will be happy to see you, and I can discuss a few matters with him.”

“Uncle Léohelm....what happened with him was a great tragedy. A curse.”

“Such is life, my friend, such is life...” – Helmgar sighed heavily – “It knocks you down, throws you into the mud and dirt...but you must get up again. Again and again. You must never stay down, never accept that. My brother is a strong man, he knows that.”

Léohelm’s fate hung heavily on Helmgar’s shoulders, and the memory of it soured his mood; he grew distant and quiet. Such was their vocation, he knew that. Warriors accepted the risk of death and maiming; it was a part of their life. And yet....fate could be cruel, so cruel. An arm, an eye, an ear...each one of those could be taken from the fighter and it would not be that great a loss. Many were the tales of men who would fight with their off-hand, if the other was crippled. It took a great amount of stubbornness and will, but it was possible. But the loss of a leg...a cursed thing indeed, just as his son had said.

Deep inside him, Helmgar knew that his feelings were not completely selfless. A part of him regretted his brother’s crippling for another reason: Helmgar's freedom had been taken away. He was the second born; Éohelm’s horn had been given to him. It was meant for him to do great deeds in life to make his name immortal in the songs of his people. True, he had a family – a wife, sons and a daughter...And yet, Léofric was almost a man grown; he could take care of all matters by himself. Helmgar was no fool and knew that soon enough the boy would be completely independent from him.

In the past, he had toyed with the idea of travelling. He knew not where, but he had a desire to leave this all too familiar land behind. South, perhaps, to the lands of his forefathers; or maybe eastward, across the dark forest and into the lands of the men who dwelt by the great lake. And then? Even further to the South, where the Men of the West made their homes. It made no matter where; he could not bear to remain here. The blood of the old horselords was in his veins, the blood of the wide, open plain – he could not be caged. And yet, with each passing winter he came to witness how more and more houses crept in around his. It was not a cage of the flesh, of the body; it was one of the spirit and the soul.

At one point in time, his musings seemed possible enough; he had even discussed the subject with his brother a few times. But now…now it was all a dream outside his reach forever. With his brother crippled, it fell on him to look after the family’s lands. To lead the people of Greybarrow in times of need, as his brother and father before him. But it was not meant for him to do this, he felt it. The wisdom of Aethelred had passed onto Léohelm; he was calm and reasonable like their father. But a different kind of blood flowed in Helmgar. Like his grandfather, whom he had never known, he was fiery and action-prone. And the longer he remained here, the more restless he grew; it was no surprise that his grandsire had met his end on the most worthy of places – the battlefield.

But just as he had told his son, fate and life had their own course, and neither Man nor Elf or Dwarf could change them. Not even the legends dared assume such things. Helmgar might have been meant to do other things, but responsibility and duty were not things to be taken lightly. He could not shrink from them; he was not such a man. Thus, he kept his thoughts to himself and assumed the position which was thrust upon him as best he might.

“What have you been doing lately, my son?” – Helmgar asked after he realised how long he had remained silent.

It was a question he had intended to ask, though. He had been away from home for about a week, having had to visit some relatives, and now he was eager to hear what his son had done in that time. He knew it could not be much, but it was one of the small things which he abided by, even after the need for careful guidance had passed away. Léofric was quick to answer, obviously relieved that the heavy silence was no more.

As such, they passed the next few hours discussing this and that – small matters, from everyday life. Who had said what regarding the weather; what the boys in the village had been planning; the rumour that the King and his Guard could pass through here; small, trivial matters, that were of no import in the great scheme of things, but which nevertheless offered flavour and colour to the otherwise bland existence of simple folk like them. Such talk distracted Helmgar from his more serious thoughts and it lightened his mood, for a time he was at ease.

Their fields and crops were in good shape, growing strong and defiant, despite the blanket of snow that had covered them not so long ago. Following Aethelred’s instructions, which he had devised many winters ago, they knew when to plant and when to harvest the fruits of their labours. The harvest was always bountiful, save for a few harsher years, and this time it seemed to be no different.

They had set off early in the morning, with the sun still low on the horizon. Now it was noon and some colour had seeped into the world. It was still cold and forlorn; the vast fields were empty, save for the lonely birds which darted back and forth, from time to time. Here and there, some patches of dirty, melting snow remained, a memory of the field of white which had dominated the region not so long ago. The sky seemed to have cleared somewhat and the golden orb shone down upon them, but the day was still joyless and grey.

Having checked on their fields, the two where now heading towards the river, down a well-trodden path which lead to a pleasant spot on the bank of the Greylin. Their conversation had died down somewhat and as Helmgar looked about in silence, he noticed something slightly amiss about his son’s appearance. The small detail had caught his eye earlier, even as they were setting off, but he could not place it up until now.

Léofric was dressed much like him – woollen clothes of earthen colours to ward from the cold; thick, sturdy boots that covered most of the calf; and a heavy cloak which could protect from snow and rain. And yet, there was one small difference – the boy’s right hand, with which he held the reins, was gloved.

“What is that glove?” – Helmgar asked

“I cut myself yesterday.”

Helmgar frowned slightly. “Let me see”

The boy did as he was told, he drew closer to his father, masterfully handling his horse, removed the glove and showed him his hand. Helmgar threw it a quick glance; the wound was a small slash across the palm. Uncomfortable, but not something which could hinder a rider.

“Leave it at that and put the glove away” – Helmgar ordered – “Your hands must harden still. If you cut yourself while working, will you stop? If you fight and your foe injures your sword-arm, will you give up?”

“No...but the reins...”

“A good rider has no need of reins, my son. Your mount should understand where you intend to go; only when Man and horse are one can you consider yourself proficient. Besides, that wound is not deep enough to hinder you.”

“As you say, father.”

Léofric quietly put the glove away and took hold of the reins once more. For the briefest of moments, Helmgar noticed that the boy winced, but it was fleeting. Soon, he had a solid grasp, just as he had before. To a stranger, this scene would seem foolish, if not more. But, over the years, Helmgar had paid attention to such small details, for he knew that the everyday, seemingly insignificant habits were the most important. As his father had once asked him: “What is a Man if not the sum of his doings? Great or small, it makes no matter. How many great things does one achieve in their time? And how many small, brief tasks does he repeat every day?”

At the time, Helmgar had not understood the meaning of that. He was not certain if he did so now, not completely. Could one ever understand the meaning of greatness? Of one’s purpose? Men wiser and older than him had attempted to do that since the dawn of time...and they would continue for many more years, he reckoned.

When they reached the river, they decided to halt for a time, giving both themselves and their mounts some time to rest. Helmgar paced back and forth around the river, trying to gauge how much it had moved away from its original bed. In the mean time, his son took out what foodstuffs they had taken with them and prepared a quick meal. Their horses roamed freely about, grazing the low, early spring grass.

Helmgar was not quite certain what to make of the river; the usually steeper bank was now completely brimming with water, coming almost of a like level with the land around it. Further downstream, towards the town, its banks were steeper still, which was a relief to him. And yet...if it escaped its boundaries here, it could flood the surrounding fields – causing a disaster not only to his family, but to many other farmholds located around them. He would have to take counsel with his brother.

Knowing he could do no more at the present, he walked towards his son. The ground was cold and wet, but Léofric had strewn out his cloak and used is as a blanket to provide room for him and his father to sit. Helmgar joined the boy and took a bite of the bread and salted meat offered to him. He took out his waterskin and sipped a few drops of water, before returning to his meal. They ate in silence, until Léofric, remembering something, asked his father:

“Father is that the place?” – he pointed at a spot some distance away, on the other side of the river.

“Aye” – came the quiet answer.

The spot which the boy had gestured at was on the outskirts of a small wood which dominated that part of the area. Almost ten and nine years ago, on a day not too different from this one, Helmgar had killed his first foe. He was barely a man then, being a boy of a like age with his son, but he remembered the moment vividly.

“A company of orcs, foul beasts and servants of the Dark powers, had come down from the mountains. It was not a rare occurrence, when I was young...not like today” – he halted for a second – “I was still a boy back then, with barely any hair on my cheeks and an untested sword-arm. My brother, your uncle, led most of the men into the woods. The beasts had made an encampment on the eaves of the forest and at dawn, when they least expected us, Léohelm hit them from the back. The orcs are poor soldiers and they have no honour or courage, pathetic beings...they fled and made for the river, hoping to ford it; for it was summer and the Greylin was shallow.”

“Your uncle and grandfather had expected that outcome and thus, a group of younger, inexperienced youths like me waited for them by the bank. As soon as they came within sight of us, we charged and ran them down, cutting them off from the river and trapping them between our two forces. We slew every lice-ridden one of them.”

Silence followed, it was a tale which Helmgar had recounted before and in greater detail, his son was certainly familiar with it. And he could not quite say why he had told it again – to remind his son what his father had once been? was something else; he had done it for his own sake, he now knew that. It was to remind himself what he had once been and what he had become. Time knew but one direction – onward and it waited for no Man. He was now a man grown, in his prime...perhaps he would one day find himself here again, as an elder in the setting of his years. Perhaps.

“Let us go. I intend to discuss some matters with my brother and I want to be back home by sunset.” – Helmgar declared as he finished his meal.

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Re: The Battle of Celebrant

Post by Gadreille on Mon Feb 28, 2011 11:07 pm

Aethylwyn shivered as her sister let out a whimper of fear. She turned and faced Léohild and with desperation, begged her to be quiet. They were lucky, their baby sister Helmwyn was fast asleep, in Aethylwyn’s arms. The baby was naught but a year, and she could scream if she felt like that. Were she to wake, they would most certainly be found, and killed. Aethylwyn’s skin crawled as she considered the possibility. “…Don’t wake up, Wyny, don’t wake up…” She prayed over and over again. They were hidden in the darkness of the pantry, as their mother had commanded. This wasn’t the first time their home had been attacked, but it was the first time her father wasn’t home to protect them. But she had faith in Mother. Mother would save them.

The sounds from above were terrifying. It was what made Léohild whimper so. Poor dear, she was barely just over the age of a wean, and to have to go through this…well, Aethylwyn wanted to whimper too. But she was the eldest, she had been through this before, she remembered the terror that she had felt before…and she knew she must not let her sisters feel that terror. Mother was father’s right hand, and now she must be mothers. For father was at war, protecting them in a different sort of way.

There was a scream of pain…it was mother! Léohild cried out, and Aethylwyn violently shushed her. “
Léohild, you are a daughter of Fram and a warrior just as anyone else! I command you be silent!” Aethylwyn wanted to cry, she could feel the tears in her eyes and the pain in her chest, as her sister nodded and choked back the tears. How she listened to her. How good and brave her little sister was. Aethylwyn handed the sleeping baby to her sister. Something about her peaceful slumber was keeping her calm, and Léohild needed it now. Besides, mother was in trouble, and it was Aethylwyn’s duty to protect her.

She grabbed the dagger her father had given her and rushed up the stairs. Or at least, she tried to. But each step seemed heavy, and far away from the last, and when she reached the top it seemed that an age had passed since she had been at the bottom. She listened at the door. She could hear no sounds. There was a peephole near the bottom, but she saw nothing outside. It was fading into night, and soon there would be nothing left to see by. Aethylwyn was afraid. She was not a trained warrior, she was not even a boy. This was not her duty! “
How can you say that, Aethylwyn? How can you say anything is not your duty. You are a woman, you are mighty and strong. There is nothing you can’t do, nothing that is not your responsibility! If you do not stand, who will?” Her mother’s voice rang in her ears. Her father spoke of war. The element of surprise, he called it. She must surprise her enemy. She burst out the door, as fast as she could muster, knife raised high…

Her mother knelt outside it, leaning over the body of a dead monster. There were others all around him, all dead. Her mother had done it! She had saved them! “Mother!” Aethylwyn cried in glee. Her mother’s head turned, just barely, and she whispered Aethylwyn’s name. Something was not right. She ran to her mother, but when she reached her she saw with horror what was amiss. She was bleeding badly from her side. Aethylwyn’s feet were drenched in her mother’s blood.

Mother. It’s done now. Let me get you inside,” Aethylwyn said, with such certainty, knowing she had not the strength to carry her own mother.

Dearest, you are right. It is done.” Her mother lifted one hand and put it around Aethylwyn’s shoulders. “I have done all I can do for you daughters. I have given my life to see yours through.”

“No mama, you’ll be fine…

“Aethylwyn! Listen.” Her mother coughed, and cried out as she did so. She slid down, collapsing on the dead orc like the pillow of a deathbed. That was all he was now. “You must continue where I could not. You must raise your sisters as they were your own. You must grow up now, and grow up strong. Your father’s family will help you, should he not return…” Aethylwyn couldn’t bear to think of that. But she stayed quiet, for she knew that her mother’s time was short, and she had much she wanted to say. “You remember the soup porridge I make for Helmwyn for you to feed her while I’m gone, yes?” Aethylwyn nodded. “You must feed her this every day until her teeth cut. And keep practicing your bow. Make Léohild practice her riding, you all must do this! And…you tell them about me. Don’t let them forget…”

Her mother closed her eyes, and Aethylwyn screamed.

24th of Súlìmë (March)

Helmwyn shook Aethylwyn awake from her memories.

“You’ve nodded off again, Aethylwyn. You aren’t getting enough sleep! You shouldn’t be out so late, it isn’t good for a woman to be riding around the dark with a lot of hairy old men…” Aethylwyn stifled a yawn and forced out a giggle. Her memories of her mother were growing faint, but she could see so much of her in her sisters. Especially Helmwyn, though it was mostly because Helmwyn ran the house that her mother once did. Though technically Aethylwyn was still the woman of the house, when her father lost his leg she made the decision to join the éoherë in his place. This was still her home, but she found she was here less often. And with Léohild married, Helmwyn was the last at home. She hoped that Helmwyn would find love and marry, as did Léohild. It was something Aethylwyn dreamed of for her sisters, if not for herself.

There was a time, years ago, that she thought she was in love. She loved him dearly, but he was gone now. And her heart hardened, and her responsibilities grew…no, love and family was not for her. She promised to do what her mother could not do. Her mother was restricted by the responsibility of motherhood. While Aethylwyn could not lessen admiration of her mother for it, she could choose to not follow that path. In fact, she was afraid to.

“How can you let me fall asleep, Helmwyn? It’s long after midday and there are things that need to be done! Where is father, I must take him for a stroll.” Aethylwyn rubbed her eyes and stood, starting to gather her things.

“Léohild came by and is doing so as we speak. She knows how tired you are, warrior sister. She may have a husband now, but he is understanding of our situation. We are ever bound to protecting our father. All of us,” She emphasized the all. She knew what Aethylwyn had done for them. If only she knew…

“You are so like mother, sometimes. If ever you wonder about her, look at yourself in the water.”

“We all are like her, Aethylwyn. We are all parts of her. I bet Léohild will be with child soon. She says if she has a daughter she will name her Holdwyn. I think her husband is wanting a son, but you know us.”

“Daughters of Fram, it seems, come around more than sons.” Aethylwyn finished her sister’s thought with a laugh. “And what of you? Will you be marrying soon?” She pried.

“Och, who has time for that. With Da on the mend and you off being warrior queen, what would I do with a husband and weans?”

“You needn’t worry about me, Helmwyn. If I were a brother you would not worry. And Father will be fine. See how Léohild does it? You can do that too.”

“You are a brother and a sister. I would miss you even if you were a blockhead. But why do you question me, elder sibling? You could always marry.” Helmwyn offered a sidelong glance.

Aethylwyn’s thoughts darkened. She wasn’t ready to think about him. She never would be. “I don’t think I could, Wyny. My heart is cold.” It wasn’t something she liked to discuss. It hurt her to admit it, and she would say it to no one but dear Wyny. Helmwyn was like a daughter and a mother all in one. Sometimes she thought Wyny was the true warrior.

“Fires go out, but they can be rekindled,” Helmwyn said softly, laying a hand on Aethylwyn’s shoulder. For the briefest of moments, Aethylwyn leaned in. She could feel her mother’s hands, hear her voice again…

“Ho! Is that Uncle Helmgar approaching?” Helmwyn glanced through the open doorway. Aethylwyn stood and followed her sister out the front door. Indeed it was, he just stopping further down the road where Léohild was pushing Father. Aetheylwyn smiled, seeing her family. They had suffered, but they were not broken. As she went to meet them, she passed a trough. Remembering her sister’s words, she bent over and looked. She saw a worn face, with dark hair and eyes…and something in them that was no one else but Holdwyn.

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Re: The Battle of Celebrant

Post by Silvan Arrow on Sat Mar 05, 2011 4:21 pm

Sparse patches of sunlight filtered down through the thick, forested canopy of Mirkwood, though her rays did little to penetrate the suffocating aura of darkness that suffused the once-proud elvish kingdom. Here in the forest so far from Thranduil’s protected borders, darkness was more than just the absence of light. It was also the presence of evil, veiled though it was. No birdsong echoed through the trees to offer a sense of levity. Only the soft patter of horse hooves offered any noise to break the oppressive silence.

The shadow of threat pressed continually as a dull ache against Elendyne’s mind, just as it no doubt plagued her two travel companions. Huor, a stoic, raven-haired warrior who had served many centuries in Thranduil’s army, rode in front on a proud elf-bred white stallion, a one-handed sword gripped defensively in his right hand. Behind Elendyne rode Finrod, a blonde-headed archer who could be given to light-hearted jokes and singing, though now his expression was as guarded as Huor’s as he held his drawn bow with both hands and guided his white mare with his knees. Bracketed between their protective strength, Elendyne trusted in them to see her safely to the edge of the forest. Elendyne’s own dapple-grey mare Nessa tossed her head uneasily, sensing the veiled threat that continually surrounded them, to which the healer spoke a few whispered words of elvish to calm her. To their right flowed the Forest river, which made her bed in the heart of the Woodland Elves' realm and marked their route.

Without warning, Huor drew his horse to a halt and wordlessly held up a hand. The elves did not need to exchange words to convey what all three of them now sensed. The shadow of threat pressed more insistently against their minds, and Elendyne silently reached for her longbow and nocked an arrow to the string. The horses tossed their heads uneasily and gave snorts of displeasure, but they remained rooted in place, a testament to the trust they placed in their elven riders. The silence was now deafening, until the minute sound of a tree branch groaning under an unnatural weight reached the elves’ sensitive ears. Finrod pivoted in his saddle, and the twang of a bowstring, followed by the whistle of an arrow was quickly echoed by the pained shriek of the fell creature that had stalked them from above. Elendyne’s horse reared and neighed in terror as the crumpled form of a giant, five-foot wide spider fell to the ground beside her, Finrod’s arrow protruding from its abdomen. More clicking and groaning sounds echoed from the branches overhead as some of the shadows in the canopy detached themselves from the surrounding darkness and surrounded the small party, save for the front facing the river. Elendyne’s jade green eyes widened in horror as she took notice of the myriad of webs that lined the canopy high overhead. They had stumbled upon a colony.

The three elves were sorely outnumbered, and they knew it. Trying to stand and fight would be a fool’s gambit and would surely end in their demise. Huor barked out the single command, “Drego! ” and dug his heels into his mount’s sides. The stallion lurched forward with a terrified scream, followed closely by Elendyne and Finrod. Elendyne leaned low against Nessa’s neck and held her bow at her side as the forest whipped by her in a shadowy blur. Huor kept his sword at the ready while Finrod covered their retreat with strategically shot arrows. The elves’ dark green cloaks whipped behind them from the speed of their horses, giving them an almost wraith-like appearance under the shadows of the thick forest canopy. They could hear the spiders, which numbered at least a dozen, pursuing them from above. Huor had been wise to keep the river at their right side so they only had to face the spiders on one front. The fell creatures had the advantage in the trees, and despite the elf-bred horses’ speed and surefootedness, several of them quickly gained ground on the fleeing party. A seven-foot spider leaped down from the branches, aiming its paralyzing stinger for Huor’s head, but the stoic warrior easily knocked the beast aside with a well-placed sword swipe. Finrod felled another that was closing in from behind, and Elendyne rose up in her saddle for a split second to shoot a third spider that had gotten too close for comfort.

The minutes dragged by painfully slow as the chase continued, but at last the sounds of pursuit faded as the elves made it beyond the bounds of the spiders’ territory. Even so, Huor did not slow the pace of their retreat until the borders of Mirkwood loomed on the horizon, and warm patches of sunlight filtered between the trees from the plains beyond. The horses broke from the forest and leaped gladly into the welcoming light of the sun, and Elendyne squinted as her sensitive eyes adjusted to the abrupt change. They had emerged near the northernmost boundary of Mirkwood, still following the Forest river. Huor finally brought the group to a halt, and Nessa trembled beneath Elendyne as sweat glistened upon her proud grey coat and she panted to regain her lost wind. Elendyne dismounted and patted her mount fondly on the neck. “Hannon le, mellon nîn .”

Huor and Finrod also dismounted to bid their comrade farewell. Knowing she would soon be among Men, Elendyne spoke in the Common Tongue, which tasted foreign and unfamiliar on her lips. “What path will you take to return home?”

Finrod deferred to Huor’s seniority, who answered, also in the Common Tongue, in a deep baritone, “Ungoliant’s spawn will not remain this far from their nest for long. We will ride south along the forest’s border and reunite with our king’s sentries to obtain safe passage home.”

Finrod took the opportunity to voice his displeasure at Elendyne’s departure. “I still fail to understand why King Thranduil consented to sending one of our best healers alone to aid the horsemen. Why aid those who will not come within an arrow’s reach of our homeland?”

Elendyne smiled kindly at the younger elf and lightly laid her fingertips on his cheek. “There may yet come a day when our kind will diminish from Middle Earth and Men will grow strong again. What better time than now to forge bonds of friendship and trust with those who may one day fight as our allies?” She kissed him on the cheek. “Namárië .”

Elendyne turned next to Huor, and her heart clenched with unexpected emotion at the impending departure. They had watched each other’s backs on the battlefield ever since she had begun riding on patrols with the warriors, and she had treated his wounds that would have claimed his life several times over on numerous occasions. He had been the first to volunteer to escort her to Mirkwood’s borders when she had announced her decision to leave, and she was slowly realizing that he would probably even follow her to Dol Guldur itself were she to ask. She could tell that leaving her to make this journey alone went against his fierce warrior’s code of honor to protect his kin, especially the women and maidens. However, Elendyne was also a warrior in her own right and needed to prove her own strength apart from the protection of another. She met his unyielding, cobalt gaze and vowed, “I will return. You have my word.”

She could see the emotions veiled behind his seemingly cold expression, but discipline hard-wired from centuries of training kept him in place. “I Melain berio le ,” he spoke, the elvish words dancing from his tongue.

Elendyne kissed him on the cheek like she had done with Finrod, and Huor’s arms wrapped around her lithe form in a brief embrace before they parted. “No in elenath hîlar nan hâd gîn .” It was a more fitting farewell than wishing the sun to shine upon one’s path, given that the Mirkwood elves lived under the constant threat of darkness. Instead, they often spoke of stars as a reminder that darkness also held things of beauty and light.

With the farewells spoken, there was nothing left but to go their separate ways. Huor boosted Elendyne back into her saddle, more out of courtesy than necessity, and then he and Finrod returned to their own mounts. As they rode south along the forest’s border, Huor pointedly ignored the smug, knowing looks from Finrod. For a “youngster,” relatively speaking, the blonde elf could be annoyingly perceptive.

As for Elendyne, she turned Nessa’s head toward the riverbank and set off at an easy canter. They would follow the Forest River northwest, almost to the Grey Mountains, before turning due west. The town of Greybarrow, so she had been told, lay on the western shore of the eastern leg of the Greylin river. With one last glance back at her departing comrades, Elendyne whispered a quick prayer to the Valar for their safety and hers before steeling herself for the long journey ahead.
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Re: The Battle of Celebrant

Post by Guest on Tue Mar 15, 2011 3:15 pm

Magorthaen walked briskly through the Camp of the Guard. At some moments he couldn’t keep the skip out of his step as he thought about what he had just heard within the command tent. But seconds later he would find himself glaring at the dirt at his feet as he walked, dark thoughts crowding out his previous elation. It was in one of these moods that he at last encountered Halward, one of his men. Halward had ancestry from Dale, in the lands far north and east, beyond even Rhovanion where the Balcoth horde was said to be invading. Though Halward was dark of hair and eyes, he was spared the ridicule most gave Torgin. He had no relation with the Dunlendings, and that was good enough for most, it seemed.

“Good morning, Cainenhîr,” said Halward. The man spoke respectfully, despite being older than Magorthaen, and having lost the opportunity of cainenhîr to him.

“Good morning, Halward,” Magorthaen responded, forcing a smile on his face. Halward was sitting on an old, dry log outside of his tent. He held the shaft of an arrow upright between his legs and was in the process of tying on a small iron head. Halward was an excellent bowman, and spent much of his time fletching arrows. It was largely because of his lack of skill with close range weapons that Halward lost the position of cainenhîr to Magorthaen. “Turmahîr Hammar has called us to the training grounds. Put away your arrows and follow me.”

“Why is the Rheinhîr here, Magorthaen?” Halward was always the most perceptive member of the tulkarim; Magorthaen assumed it had to do with his skills as a scout and bowman. Halward placed his finished arrow into an already filled bucket by his feet, and brushed the splinters of wood from his lap to a growing pile at his feet. His placed both of his hands on his legs and leaned forward as he waited for Magorthaen’s response.

“War, Halward. Come on.”

“War?” Halward asked as he jumped up. He turned toward his tent to grab his bow and helmet, pulling his chain mail over his head as he went. “War with who? When are we leaving?” Magorthaen glanced at the bow Halward prized and grimaced. They were to be taught to use spears. Halward would have the most difficulty with that.

“You will hear when we get to the training grounds, Halward. Turmahîr Hammar will explain everything.” Halward glared indignantly at him but said no more. “Baranor and Hirbarad are standing guard on the steps of Orthanc.”

“You mean sleeping on the steps of Orthanc,” Halward said.

Magorthaen could not help but laugh. “They perform their duties diligently, Halward.”

“They sleep diligently,” he replied. “Why do you think they are so often posted there?”

Magorthaen ignored the quip as he concentrated on making his way through the increasingly busy camp. The word had passed quickly, and all of the soldiers and guards were making their way to the training grounds or gathering necessary equipment. Magorthaen and Halward were walking against the flow as they made their way to the gates that led into Angrenost itself. There were no tents or buildings within one hundred feet of the walls. The top of the walls were now empty as the soldiers’ cainenhîr had ordered them away from their posts. Guarding the walls of Angrenost was not exactly a necessity in a time of relative peace. There were small watchtowers posted closer to the border of Gondor and the lands of the Dunlendings that would give plenty of advance warning if necessary. Having guards up there at all times was mainly for show, and to give the men something to do.

Beyond the gate, within the walls of Angrenost, was a circular park filled with green trees and grass, crisscrossed by small stone pathways. Magorthaen and Halward followed the central pathway through the park toward the steps of Orthanc. The tower was incredibly tall; it was something that was hard to appreciate when you were on the other side of the wall. But when you walked up to the base of Orthanc, it was hard not to gape at it in awe. Baranor and Hirbarad, he saw immediately, were not alone. There were two other soldiers with them, and they were all sitting on the steps of Orthanc, leaning against the walls surrounding the main entry portal. At least they aren’t sleeping…, Magorthaen thought. The four soldiers jumped to their feet as they saw the approach of Magorthaen and Halward. As he reached the bottom of the steps he recognized the faces of the other two soldiers beneath their helmets: Findegil and Araglas, two more men of his tulkarim. Those two soldiers were inseparable. They had both come from North Ithilien, though they were not of the same blood. Supposedly they had been friends since childhood, and neither would say why they had come, or had been sent, to serve in the Angrenost Guard. They were both tall with fair hair and blue eyes, though their features were hidden by their helmets and armor.

Baranor and Hirbarad were not much different from the other two who accompanied them. Baranor hailed from the southwestern lands of Gondor, near the coast, and Hirbarad from Minas Tirith itself. Like most of the Angrenost Guard, those two had joined simply to see the world and earn some money. They were both shorter than Findegil and Araglas, about the same height as Magorthaen, though the rest of their features were typical of the southern reaches of Gondor. They both held their spears out and stood at attention as they awaited a scolding from Magorthaen. Araglas and Findegil stood at attention also, and surprisingly well considering their normally playful demeanor.

“I hope you enjoyed your break,” Magorthaen said. He kept his voice hard, but let a hint of a smile show. “For the next week the four of you will spend some time in the training yards.” His smile nearly grew uncontrollable as he saw the dismay on the four soldiers’ faces. “Come on,” he said, turning and waving for them to follow. “Halward and I are heading there now.”

“You mean…it isn’t punishment?” asked Findegil. “Are we going through drills again?”

“We are going to war, Findegil,” Halward said bluntly before Magorthaen could reply. “Steel your heart and rein in your humor. This week will certainly be a difficult one, but it will be nothing compared to the road ahead.” Magorthaen rolled as his eyes as Halward taunted Findegil. He had revealed nothing yet to Halward, though such a description likely wasn’t far off from any type of war.

“War?” Hirbarad asked excitedly. “Are you sure, Magorthaen? When do we march? Who are we fighting?”

“Like I told Halward, you will find out everything when we get to the training grounds. I don’t have the time or patience to explain it, and likely you will have more questions than I have answers for. In short, the Easterlings have invaded Rhovanion, and we are being sent north to stop them before they can advance into Gondor.” Magorthaen stopped and turned toward the soldiers following behind him. “Turmahîr Hammar is waiting for everyone at the training grounds. We need to hurry, so no more questions. Does anyone know where Orogond is? He is off duty today.”

“I saw him with Duinhir and Dervorin,” Araglas said quickly. “They were heading toward the barracks to get a meal, and Dervorin was laughing about a lost helmet.”

Findegil laughed and elbowed Araglas. “He said he wanted to turn it in before the owner could find it. Said it would teach him to leave his belongings laying about.” Findegil and Araglas both laughed, and he couldn‘t help but smile himself. He was surprised, however, that the looming war, and the week in the training yard, had already slid from their minds in favor of a joke.

“Then we should see them on the way there,” Magorthaen said as he turned back toward the gate of Angrenost. The Camp of the Guard, a hundred feet beyond the gate, was nearly emptied. “We need to hurry,” he said. “We don’t want to be late.”

The six soldiers trotted through the quickly emptying Camp. The rows of tents beyond the wall were all empty, a somewhat foreshadowing sight to Margorthaen as he thought about how Angrenost would be in a week. It would likely be even worse, he realized. They would be packing up those tents, and all of their belongings, and taking them north with them. Angrenost would be empty indeed. The wooden barracks came into sight, slightly southeast of the command tent. The training grounds were behind the barracks, though the barracks occupied their full field of view. While the barracks was normally unoccupied during times of peace, it was large enough to support twice the number of the current Angrenost Guard. The only men stationed in the barracks were a few capable blacksmiths, cooks and a rotating group of trainers.

Magorthaen and his soldiers pushed their way through the wooden door marking the entrance to the barracks. It was dark within; candles and oil were far too expensive to transport to the borders of Gondor, or to trade from the Dunlendings, to be wasted when the barracks was largely unoccupied. The entrance to the barracks was relatively large for a building of its size. It served as both the meeting area as well as the mess hall. The long tables throughout the room were mostly empty. Doorways along the walls led to hallways, which Magorthaen knew led to sleeping quarters and storage rooms. As expected, the three soldiers Magorthaen was looking for were sitting at a table eating.

“Orogond!” Magorthaen called as he spotted him. “Your day off is officially over. We are called to the training grounds. You too, Duinhir and Dervorin.” As Dervorin turned away from the table to peer at Magorthaen, he saw a helmet sitting in front of the soldier. A second helmet was in his lap. “Bring that with you, Dervorin,” he said. “You will likely find its careless owner where we are going.”

“Everyone will be there, huh?” Orogond asked with a smile. “Another chance to pound on the old-timers!” The soldier laughed while flexing his enormous arms, boasting over a mouthful of food. Orogond had always been Magorthaen’s least favorite member of the tulkarim, but he was certainly the most skillful in combat. Orogond was the same age as Magorthaen, but built like Turmahîr Hammar. Looking at Orogond now, Magorthaen knew that the coming campaign would likely place the first of the scars on his face that decorated Hammar’s own. Orogond loved placing himself at the front of the lines, to be the first to offer his sword arm. He came from a small settlement in Calenhardon, and perhaps that was the reason for his eagerness: to have his name remembered when the name of his family and home never would be. Orogond spoke little of his home in any case, so Magorthaen could only guess at the reasons for his vigor.

Duinhir hailed from Dor Rhúnen, and he bore a striking resemblance to Randir Dringnor, the Dor Rhúnen man who had come to warn them of the horde. Like most men of that land, Duinhir was a competent horse rider. Magorthaen wasn’t quite sure why Duinhir wasn’t a part of the cavalry, but Duinhir just shrugged his shoulders whenever he brought it up. Dervorin, a man from Pelargir, was a complete enigma to him. He bore himself like a noble, acted like a noble, and despised liars and thieves. He was usually quiet and reserved, when he wasn’t busy lecturing Araglas or Findegil about lying, or any other soldier for doing something wrong. Seeing these three soldiers together didn’t really come as a surprise to Magorthaen, though it was a relatively recent development. It seemed that Orogond, Duinhir and Dervorin all had something of their past to hide, or something they were ashamed of. They were all three quiet, or in Orogond’s case overly charismatic, as a way of avoiding their secrets. Magorthaen didn’t press them. Nor did he really trust them.

“Yes, everyone will be there,” Magorthaen said to Orogond. “And we’re late. Come on!” To stall any more questions, Magorthaen turned on his heel and stepped quickly back into the bright daylight. After even a few moments in the dark interior of the barracks, the sun burned his eyes until they could adjust. As he made his way around to the back of the barracks, toward the training grounds, the eight soldiers, half of his tulkarim, marched in line behind him. There were still others behind them, and plenty more ahead of them. They weren’t nearly as late as he had thought.

The training grounds was a circular field divided by six smaller “arena’s.” Each division was normally reserved for a particular style of combat, though Magorthaen knew that today every arena would be occupied with learning the spear. He found Anglad and the final seven members of the tulkarim waiting near one of the arena’s.

Magorthaen walked up to Anglad and clasped his shoulder with a hand. “Thank you for gathering the rest, Anglad. The Turmahîr should be here soon.”

“While we wait,” said Duinhir, “would you mind explaining what this is all about?”

Magorthaen sighed. He had hoped to avoid being the one to give the details. He wasn’t sure why he was so afraid of it when he was excited about the prospect of war at the same time. Had been excited since he had first had the idea of joining the Angrenost Guard in his father’s footsteps. “Easterlings have invaded Rhovanion. A man from Dor Rhúnen, Rochben Randir Dringnor, arrived here with Rheinhîr Harnastin this morning. The military of Dor Rhúnen has been fighting the horde along their borders, but so far the Easterlings have not moved south. However, Rochben Dringnor believes that the Easterlings, known as the Balcoth, will turn south to strike at Gondor eventually. They are sending all of the North Army to strike first, and we will be supported by the South Army when they arrive.” His explanation was met by silence from the tulkarim. Some of them had known more than others, as he had been pressed for information on the way to the training grounds. A large smile split Orogond’s face as he realized what it meant: Gondor was going to war. Orogond was going to have his chance to earn his battle scars. Dervorin took the news stoically, though his eyes seemed to show resignation. To duty or fate Magorthaen wasn’t quite sure. Duinhir’s eyes were bulging, and his mouth was open as if there was something he wished to say but couldn’t quite form. The others he had brought with him had already known the basics. But Anglad and the soldiers he had gathered had known nothing, unless they had learned of it on the way to the training grounds. He turned to Anglad to judge his reaction.


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Re: The Battle of Celebrant

Post by Kalon Ordona II on Thu Mar 24, 2011 1:04 am

Anglad looked up at the gray sky. It was overcast but not black. It didn't look like rain, but a damp fragrance had been added to the dusty smell of the training ground. The wide space was steadily being filled with men and youths. Some were even sparring lightly while they waited. Neither Anglad nor his companions were of a mind to join them, reckoning themselves about to see more than their share of training today.

"Are you sure you searched the whole tent?"
"Stop that, Menveru," said Narumir.
"I told you I did. Anyway I had to leave."
Anglad was waiting a little closer to the grounds entrance. He turned his head toward the interchange behind him, where the others were crowded together just outside one of the arena rings. "It isn't as if you have much tent to search anyway, Menveru," he said, cracking an amused smile. "There are a hundred other places you might have left it."
"Perhaps you dropped it over the wall," Brand added in jest, chuckling.
"If you crack your head open in training," Arodion piped in, "maybe you'll make Dervorin faint."
"Or Orogond thirsty," said Brand.
Baramir laughed.
Darthion plopped a hand on Menveru's shoulder. "Ah, don't worry overmuch. We'll keep an eye out for it."
"You ought to stash a lady's token inside," said Baramir. "I'll guess you'd not forget it then."
Anglad smiled wistfully at that. So did Brand and Callon--and Menveru.
So did Baramir. "Come to that, I wouldn't mind a lady's token in my helmet either."
"Here comes Magorthaen," said Callon.

The squad of youths straightened. Anglad turned back around to be ready for the cainenhîr. Magorthaen deserved a proper tulkarim, and Anglad intended to do his part.
"Orogond looks happy," Arodion remarked, just loud enough for the eight of them to hear. "That can't bode well for the next few hours. Probably some hard drills, at least."
"I'd wager you it'll be a sight more grim than that," Narumir muttered. "Maybe an orc raid up north."
"We can take them," said Darthion, sounding anything but grim.
"Peace, fellows!" Anglad whispered back at them.

Magorthaen arrived with the other eight members of the squad. Anglad managed to inspire a certain decorum in the others, long enough for Magorthaen to come up and clasp his shoulder in acknowledgment. "Thank you for gathering the rest, Anglad. The Turmahîr should be here soon.”
“While we wait,” said Duinhir, “would you mind explaining what this is all about?”

Baranor and Hirbarad naturally gravitated toward Darthion and Anglad. The four of them were the best spearmen in the tulkarim, though only Anglad was a fully trained ehtar. Darthion nodded smartly to Orogond; if Darthion was a club, Orogond was a mace. Orogond nodded back. Findegil, Araglas, Brand and Baramir clustered together, while Dervorin went to stand with Arodion and Callon. Menveru and Duinhir were closer to that group, though they stayed a bit further off. Orogond stood next to Halward. Those two could be like thunder and lightning in a battle, Anglad thought. Or nevermind the battle: they were like thunder and lightning all the time.

Following a sigh, Magorthaen explained what was going on. Anglad processed the brief summation. It was no orc raid, no outbreak of brigands, it was a full invasion. Easterlings. They were to strike back. Anglad's blood raced, as he knew his comrades' must be also.
"I'd have won that wager," Narumir managed to get out, under his breath.
Anglad noticed Duinhir's eyes had grown wide, but Anglad didn't think it was from fear.
"They'll be starting some drills soon," Findegil said, adding to the explanation.
Anglad nodded gravely. "When do you think we'll be moving out for--"
"My helmet!" cried Menveru, completely shattering the atmosphere as he reached for the lump of metal Dervorin held behind his back. Dervorin hastily brought it within Menveru's reach, savagely concealing an uproarious laugh. Menveru jerked it onto his head, saying, "Where was it?"
"On a shelf in the barracks kitchen."
Callon grinned, vindicated.
Narumir cast his eyes upward at their poorly timed levity. Anglad pinched the bridge of his nose, for the same reason. Were their circumstances so easy to forget?
"Soon," said Magorthaen, surmounting the interruption to answer Anglad's question.
Hirbarad asked, "What sort of drills do you think we're waiting for?"
"The Spear."
Anglad, Darthion, Baranor and Hirbarad swelled, eyes alight. Halward hung his head. Callon shrugged. Orogond was grinning, but Anglad didn't think it had anything to do with the choice of weapon.

Just then, the Turmahîr arrived. The huge, stocky commander was a daunting sight, and he wasn't even wearing all his armor. All the men in the training grounds gathered close as Hammar came on the scene, anxious to hear his forthcoming announcement.

Hammar launched without preamble into an explanation of their situation. His summary was impressive, carrying many times the weight of Magorthaen's more resigned telling. Hammar's voice was inescapable, for one. But the essential information was the same. Easterlings: the Balcoth. Invasion. The situation had sounded grave when Magorthaen brought the news. From Hammar, it was dire. Anglad looked around, seeing each man stand a little straighter, a little stronger, a little harder. The matter had reached its heart and struck home. But Hammar wasn't done with them, and a good thing, too. Hammar could invoke each man's sense of protection and purpose. The road would be hard, he promised, but that was why Gondor had men like them, soldiers, to tread the hard roads. And tread them they would.

The soldiers' response was not so much a cheer as it was a roar.

Immediately the drills began. The force of guards was divided into their groups, and those with more experience with the spear were placed in positions to help demonstrate the proper forms and techniques. That meant Anglad was facing the rest of his squad, while Baranor, Hirbarad and Darthion were interspersed among the other thirteen youths, including Magorthaen.

"One!" Anglad called, thrusting his nine-foot spear forward with both hands, without moving his feet. The others followed suit, running through the basics even though they all knew that much. Foundation was important. The body and mind needed to remember the basics before more it was introduced to more advanced actions. "Two!" Anglad took a step forward and thrust with both hands, then returned to the starting position. The others followed. "Three!" Anglad stepped forward, this time with the dominant foot, while he pivoted his torso and thrust the spear far forward with his dominant hand--the one furthest from the spear's blade. This was the most far-reaching attack. Anglad returned to the starting position. The others followed.

And so it went, and the hours passed. The men moved up from the basics to thrusting in different directions, then to cutting, using the spear as if a sword were attached to one end of a staff. They learned tactics, keeping attackers from passing the spear's edge and closing the distance. They learned close-range maneuvers, wielding the spears like quarter-staffs, should an attacker manage to come in close. They learned to attack with the butt of the spear, how to target an enemy's vital areas and weak points. Finally, they observed veterans sparring, then moved to sparring with one another. By the end, even Anglad had learned a some new tactics and techniques. And he was worn out.

The gray sky began to darken. Anglad had a feeling this was only the beginning. And, despite his fatigue, his heart pumped fresh excitement through his veins.
Kalon Ordona II
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Re: The Battle of Celebrant

Post by Blackrock on Sat Apr 30, 2011 4:06 pm

Helmgar brought his horse to a slow trot, upon noticing his kinsman just up the well-trodden path. Léohelm was accompanied by one his daughters, Léohild; they looked up as the two riders approached.

“Hail, my brother.”, Helmgar said, “I trust the day finds you well?”

He then deftly dismounted his horse and went up to his brother, kneeling a few steps in front of him as a sign of respect. Léofric joined his father, standing upright as he had no need to pay respect to an older sibling; instead he merely nodded his head as he spoke:

“Greetings, Uncle.”

A great rumbling laugh emerged from Léohelm, like its owner it was joyous and full of life. No mere injury could cripple the great man’s spirit; it seemed to Helmgar that his brother would laugh even on the day of his own death. Or, more than likely, after it.

"Helmgar, my brother! What's this? Rise! Rise! What brings you here this fine afternoon?" Léohelm looked to his nephew. "And Leofric! You grow everyday! I imagine you aren't getting your ears boxed by your cousins any longer, except maybe Aethylwyn. She always was a bully!”

Leohild, her father's arm still rested upon her shoulder's gave a smirk. But not one of joy. She and Aethylwyn had been having troubles, since Aethylwyn had joined the éohere.

Helmgar rose to his feet and placed a firm hand on his son’s shoulder, a small smile creeping across his face.

“The lad will grow into a fine man one day, he has taken after his Uncle, I suppose”, another smile.

“We need to talk”, he then added, his features growing more serious, “The winter snows are melting, I fear that the river may overstep its boundaries. “

Léohelm's brow furrowed, and he placed a hand on his chin while leaning heavily on his crutch. Léohild gracefully allowed him movement while keeping him balanced. Any one of his daughters could and would do the same, quickly adapting to whatever darkness came their way. They were noble in their own right, every bit like their mother as they were like their father.

"I need to see this, Brother," Léohelm finally responded. "We don't want to move those on the waterfront if we don't have to. But if it is as you say, we don't want to pay for ignorance with lives. I will not forget the last time we had a flooding. That accursed river! Why is it that the best soil is always in the most dangerous location?" He pondered for a moment longer, and then began walking again. "I must get off this foot. I'm worn and tired, even afternoon walks are draining. And Léohild, you must be wanting to get back to Éadmód!"

"Éadmód is not yet back from his duty father," Léohild replied curtly. "But you should be resting. Look, Holdwyn is anxious for you to be home. See her waiting outside?" Sure enough, when the group looked, Holdwyn was there, shading her eyes from the sun, waving to them as they looked her way. As they moved closer they realized that Aethylwyn was there too. It was a rare occurance to have all of the family together at the same time without any occasion for celebration.

“Let us get you back to your home, Brother. “ Helmgar nodded at Léohild, “You are relieved for now, my dear niece; I will help your Father for this short trip.”

Helmgar then moved to Léohelm’s side and offered his sturdy shoulder for support, allowing his brother a much firmer place to lean on. Léohild gave a nod to her father and uncle, half a wave toward her sisters, and then turned opposite they were headed, back down the road where she now lived. Léohelm shook his head with a laugh. "Her ma's temper! But she'll be alright."

Helmgar turned back to his son and said:

“Léofric! The horses!”

The boy nodded and, taking both mounts by the reins, began to lead them towards his uncle’s house. In the mean time, Helmgar studied his other two nieces; they had grown to become much like their mother had been – strong and independent. A good thing, he considered silently, for they would have to brave the perils of this world without a father’s shielding hand.

“How the times have changed, my friend…” Helmgar muttered quietly to his brother.

"Changed? Yes. I suppose I'm ordered about by three of Fram's daughter's, rather than just one. See? They took my leg to make me complacent." His laugh was contagious, and the shock of the statement quickly rolled away to more laughter.

"Papa!" Helmwyn ran up to her, and quickly shooed her uncle away. "I've got him, I've got him, the big lug. Come Papa, let's sit you down." Helmwyn was the only one of the three who called him Papa still, the rest called him Father.

"Yes, yes Helmwyn. A rest will do me good. Let's get refreshments for our guests!" Helmwyn glanced at Aethylwyn, hoping she would run and start the tea. However, she was distracted.

"Sir," Aethylwyn nodded, caught between greeting her uncle and greeting her new captain.

Helmgar smiled at his niece and laid a hand on her shoulder, a rough squeeze followed – like one would give to a man. Unlike his brother and father, he was not a great reader of men; but even he could plainly see that his niece was now faced with the important question: duty or kin? Blood was thicker than water, though. He had to remind her that.

“In times of peace, especially under your Father’s roof, I am merely Helmgar”, he looked about and turned towards her once more “You have been practicing with the sword, as well as the bow, I take it? I need not remind you how important that is.”

It was asked in a gentle tone, out of genuine concern. Helmgar had seen not one or two bowmen falling prey to enemies in melee, an arrow could only get you so far.

Aethylwyn glanced uncertainly at the sheathed sword buckled against her hip. "I train more with this than with my bow, Uncle," She said, but without pride or boast. "It is newly made, for a person of my, ah, size," she said, and the uncertainty came back. "I was having to wield a short sword like a broadsword, and the balance was all wrong. I am not strong enough for the heavy blades standard of Blacksmith Herudred. He was commissioned to make this," She then drew the shortsword from its scabbard. It was shorter by a few inches, its blade thinner in width, giving the illusion that it was not smaller at all. In her hand it looked of perfect size, but as she twisted it and handed it to him, hilt first, he could see that it was smaller and a fair bit lighter. The hilt had the standard dual bronze horse heads facing toward the blade. The pommel was wide, with a half circle design enclosing a second set of horse heads. The pommel was oval, rather than round, to accommodate the smaller blade. The balance was perfect, Herudred had done his work well.

“Herudred is a master that much is plain.” Helmgar remarked as he tried the sword.

"How did you afford this?" He then asked her, and that uncomfortable look came back.

"I'm to volunteer at the forge until I've paid off the weapon. I had to have it to remain with the éohere, but I've not yet the funds to cover it. But I will, Uncle," She said hastily. He returned it to her, and she sheathed it with only minor difficulty. Still, it was obvious she was not comfortable with the weapon.

“Good. Let us not speak of such matters now; I have come here to meet my kin, not my men.” His features softened and he said more cheerfully “Perhaps you can practice with your cousin someday; he assures me that he is skilful but I keep reminding him that there is yet at least one woman who can beat him.”

Helmgar turned around and grinned at his son, who had just now entered the house, but had no doubt heard his father’s words. Having dispersed with the pleasantries, Helmgar took a seat opposite his brother and became serious again, the stern lines etched into his face deepening. He studied him for a few moments; maiming had not quenched his brother’s burning spirit. The ever-present smile on his face was as bright as always, it reminded him of their father. And despite an obvious lack of physical activity, the man was still built like an ox – the chair could hardly contain his massive shoulders.

“What do you suggest we do, brother?”

“I need to see this for myself, I already told you” for a moment Léohelm’s features deepened into a frown, but soon his usual smile returned.

“It is getting late, perhaps if I were to come tomorrow...”

“The journey to the river’s bank is not that long, brother; especially for a horseman of your skill.”, he laughed, “Come now, do not try to get rid of your older sibling so easily!”

Helmgar sighed “Very well. If we have a good pace we can be there and back before the sun has set.”

“Ah, so you finally saw the obvious!” another laughed followed and Léohelm looked around for his daughters.

Helmgar got to his feet, deciding that it was best to use all the time available to him. However, with one final look of defiance he asked:

“Are you not too weary to ride?”

“I am not going to ride, brother; you are!” another booming laugh, another wide grin “Besides, the safety of the farmlands is more important than what I may or may not feel. We go and that is final.”

Most would not feel it, but Helmgar sensed the firmness in his brother’s last words. Despite his cheery and pleasant exterior, Léohelm was a man who always had his way. Especially if it involved his younger sibling. Thus Helmgar, despite his better judgement, saw no choice but to honour his brother’s request.

“Léofric!” he called out, his voice booming just as much as Léohelm’s “Unsaddle the horses!”

Holdwyn entered the room and looked at her father with concern on her face. She opened her mouth to speak:

"Papa, shouldn't you - " Leohelm cut her off with a wave of his hand.

"Nonsense, Holdwyn. I'm refreshed and ready for something other than walking."

“We will go take a closer look at the river” Helmgar clarified “I expect us to be back at sundown, or an hour after that at most”

In the meantime Léohelm used the strength of his arms to push himself away from the chair, Helmgar moved quickly enough to offer his brother’s outstretched hand a place to lean on. They got his crutch and together, shoulder by shoulder, like in the days of old, they walked outside. Helmgar’s son was quick to meet his father’s demands and as a result the horses were unsaddled, just as ordered. Two men would ride better without a saddle and the second horse he would use for the return trip, there was no point in over-exhausting the animals. Especially considering that both men were heavily-built. The horses of their stock were sturdy though and Helmgar was certain that they could bear the weight of three riders, even if for a short period of time.

Helmgar mounted the horse swiftly and then nodded at Léofric, who helped his uncle onto the horse. It proved to be an easier affair than Helmgar had at first anticipated, but with the help of the boy, the other man found himself on the horse soon enough. It was evident that Léohelm had once been a master horseman, even with his crippled limb he managed to mount gracefully enough and needed only a few nudges.

Holding the reins steadily, he would need more control in this case, Helmgar turned his head back to his son and told him.

“Stay with your cousins for a while, if you wish, or return home. Tell your mother what has happened and that I will be home later.”

He then urged his mount into a steady trot, while signalling for the second horse to follow him. The animal was perfectly trained and it understood the gesture of its master at once. And thus the four of them set out.

“It’s good to feel the wind beating against my face again” Léohelm told him in a tone which was a shade grimmer than it had been before “I fear I have lingered in one place for far too long.”

“A great evil, my friend, but there is little we can do about it. What is done is done. Not every loss can be compensated.” Helmgar replied glumly as he steered the horse onto a different path.

“Bah! You sound like our mother, on her good days!” He laughed and Helmgar could not help but smile, their mother had indeed been a dour woman “Not every loss can be compensated, but every loss can be overcome. Such is our way, when have we ever backed down?”

“If I can help in any way...”

“No, no...this is something a man must do by himself. Some battles must be fought alone, my maimed body is only for me to struggle against.” his voice had now become more akin to Helmgar’s, lower and not as full of mirth.

“What were you telling my daughter? Is she a good warrior?” he then asked, changing the subject.

“The best warriors never reveal themselves until the moment is right.” Helmgar told him

I taught you that, little brother. It is good you remember my lessons” Léohelm grinned.

“I was reminding her that a warrior must be skilled in all aspects of warfare, the men of the éored may not always be around to ward her.”

“Seeking equal measure of proficiency with weapons usually results in an average warrior.” a slight paused followed “We are all born with a gift and it is not for us to shy away from it.”

“I did not tell her to become a swordsman...or woman, I merely asked her to consider the sword as a weapon as well.” he then added with a bit more boldness that he had allowed himself previously “Do not pretend you did not understand what I meant.”

As he uttered those words, Helmgar felt shocked. When had he ever had the gall to speak to his older sibling thus? And what had happened to cause such a change? Was it the realisation that he was now a man grown, with his own family and outlook on life? Was if the fact that he was now a Captain, respected and looked up to by many? Or did he, deep down, feel his brother’s helplessness and, thus, sense he had some superiority over him? Was he merely gloating over a crippled man?

“You seem to be getting used to your position of power it seems.” A booming laughter from Léohelm followed, but Helmgar noted his brother’s displeasure.

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Re: The Battle of Celebrant

Post by Gadreille on Fri May 06, 2011 12:42 pm

24th of Súlìmë (March)

Léofric looked sullen watching his horse ride away without him. Aethylwyn understood. A person’s horse was more than a tool or a pet; it was an extension of their being. At least, that was the way of the Éothéod; each was taught very young to care for their horses. Little ones would help care for their parent’s horse, until they were old enough to ride. Then, a foal would be bred for that child, and that horse would last well into adulthood, until another was needed. Horses were a part of the family, their lineage traced just as a man’s would be.

It brought pains to her heart that Father’s horse was killed the day he was maimed. There had been no need to find him another – it was well known that he would not ride again. No, they were wrong. He is riding right now. Léohelm rode upon Léofric’s horse, or rather would be on the way home. Léofric would have to walk home. It was no short distance.

“Léofric, stay a while, and we can practice swords,” Aethylwyn called to her cousin as he turned to leave. He seemed uncertain, caught between two choices, neither of which seemed pleasant to him. “Surely it would be better to wait for your horse than to walk the long road alone?”

Léofric heaved a small sigh of defeat and faced the house once more. “I’ll stay for a while, I guess. What’s for dinner anyway?” Helmwyn beamed and led him inside, talking about the wonderful dinner she was going to make just for him. Aethylwyn knew it to be true. Helmwyn didn’t waste fineries unless there was someone to use them on proudly. Even a cousin would count. Aethylwyn didn’t bring up swords again; she had only mentioned it for his sake, and he didn’t seem interested in the least. She didn’t mind.

They rested inside for a time, but it was getting dark and Aethylwyn wanted to have Amras saddled and ready before she had to report for duty. Right now, he was out grazing somewhere or sleeping; he had much less trouble adjusting to her new schedule than she did. All new members of the éoherë were required to take the graveyard shift of sentry duty. It began when the stars were full in the sky and did not end until the sun began peeking over the eastern horizon. Learning to keep awake when her body screamed for sleep was Aethylwyn’s most difficult task at hand. It was no wonder the newest members were stuck with the chore of staying up all night, for little reason. She wore a brown horsetail on her helmet to mark her new status; those accepted as full soldiers would then wear the black, but not she. She was an archer, and when she finished her training and became truly one of the éoherë, she would wear the red. A unique rank equal to that of the black, but rather than spearmen they were archers. She twirled her fingers in the hair of the helmet, imagining a fiery red plume rather than the brown one. Though Amras had red fur, like his father - who was her mother’s last horse - he had a blond tail. Blond was for the Captain; the only rank that exceeded Captain were the infród, who wore the grey. These were the true warriors, seasoned from many battles. The infród were respected beyond even the Captain. Her father had been one. Thus was the reason for the newly awkward relationship between Helmgar and Léohelm. It is the not the same for every infród. Most want to die in battle; those who don’t sometimes choose to hang up their swords and become village leaders. And others are just forced to quit, to fall into the shadows of the youth before them.

The sun was almost down now, Aethylwyn had tarried too long. She got up to go brush and saddle Amras, leaving the smells of dinner behind her. It only took one call from her for him to trot into sight; he was beautiful. He was her first and only horse, born when she was twelve years old. He was in his prime now, and would last some years yet. She did not want to think of life without him. His brown fur shone red like a velvet coat, with blond mane and tail that would be suitable for a captain’s helm. He was large, larger than his father had been by two hands. It was a surprise, him growing so. Despite his size, he was mellow as could be. She often wondered if he would do well in battle; all horses were somewhat battle trained, but not all were trained as extensively as a soldier’s. It was more of a ritual to take one’s horse through the basic training than actually needing one’s horse battle worthy; it was taught long ago that all horses should be ready for no one could know for certain what the day would bring. Some could end up being sold, and how can one sell a horse if it was not properly trained? However, the horses of the éoherë had constant and much more extensive training, such that Amras only had touched the surface of. She hoped he would be alright.

Dinner was a vegetable soup and spiced lamb, and it was delicious. Helmwyn beamed over their compliments and stuffed more on their plate when they said they were full; Aethylwyn hoped Helmwyn would find a husband soon. She would make a fine mother. However, Father seemed to occupy all of Helmwyn's time.

Father and Uncle were not back yet before she had to leave. She bid goodbye and Holdwyn declared that she would ride Léofric home; there was no point worrying his mother more than necessary. Despite his protests, Helmwyn readied the saddle and urged him on and upward before clambering up behind him. Her riding skirts were split for ease of riding, like most women’s, and she had no problem at all sitting behind. Aethylwyn departed and waved goodbye to her sister and cousin.

Her duty was on the West Bridge, it was the bridge that crossed the Western split of the Greylin River. There was only one along this side, connecting to the Forest Road that ran west and lead to the dark forests beyond. No one had come this way in years; perhaps another reason why newest members were posted there. The bridge was many miles away from her home, taking her some time to reach there. She hoped her partner was already there. Those she relieved never bothered to wait, and she wouldn’t admit it, but being out there on the bridge alone, in the dark, was frightening.

When she finally arrived, she was surprised to see Éadmód. He had long since become one of the black, and this was not his duty. “Éadmód, what brings you to the West Bridge?”

“Baldor got injured sword playing with some of the other recruits.” Sword playing was the use of wooden swords to do battle on foot and on horseback. Scrapes and bruises were usual, but nothing to keep someone off duty.

“How bad?” She asked. Baldor was far younger than her, most recruits were. It was like imagining her cousin injured. He was grown, but just out of childhood.

“He fell off his horse; the other stepped on his arm. We think it’s broken. He’ll be alright, but it’s going to take a while to heal. He is not happy. He wanted to reach the black before his friend. His friend wasn’t happy either. It was his horse that did it, and the Captain on duty said he should have had far better control. It’s the truth. Neither will be reaching the black any time soon.” He shrugged indifferently.

“That’s too bad,” she responded. “No replacement tonight is there?” She added, knowing full well the answer.

“No, they figured you would be fine for one night. I was sent out here to tell you, and you know I’d keep you company, but…” his voice trailed off as he idly scratched his head. She very well knew what he meant, but he didn’t even have the courage to say it.

“Léohild will be missing you,” she said, avoiding the full truth. Yes, she would be missing him. But more than that, she would be furious to know he had spent time with Aethylwyn. It was an awkward situation. Éadmód and Aethylwyn were born the same year and had been best friends, growing up. Four years ago, he had proposed to Aethylwyn. He would have asked sooner, if she had been available. That was something she didn’t want to think about; ever again. Her heart had been elsewhere, and then broken. He had waited an appropriate amount of time before asking her; her father had already approved of it. She even loved him back, a little. But she couldn’t bring herself to accept the offer. Their friendship suffered severely after that. In fact, it was only when he proposed to Léohild that she even saw him again. Léohild was very aware of their past and asked Aethylwyn permission, which was surely given. Their marriage started off well, but when Aethylwyn joined the éoherë to take up her father’s mantle, she began to spend more and more time with Éadmód again. She had no doubt that he loved her sister dearly, and had moved on from the past. She certainly had. But Léohild was not convinced.

“You’ll be fine here alone?” He asked her. She merely nodded, and turned away from him and toward the bridge.

“I’ve always been alone,” she whispered to herself.

Last edited by Gadreille on Fri Oct 12, 2012 4:12 pm; edited 2 times in total
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Re: The Battle of Celebrant

Post by Silvan Arrow on Thu Jun 09, 2011 11:44 pm

The first day of travel passed rather uneventfully for Elendyne. She and Nessa maintained a steady, easy pace along the shore of the Forest River. Despite Elendyne’s misgivings about spending the night in Mirkwood alone after the spider attack, no fell creatures plagued rider or horse that night. She arose early the next morning, re-saddled Nessa, and the duo passed the border of Mirkwood into the plains that loomed before the Grey Mountains shortly after noon. The plains, though, held a different kind of danger for the forest elf. Here no trees offered shelter from unfriendly eyes, and the sight of an elf maiden traveling alone would be a tempting sight indeed.

The full strength of the sunlight hammering the plains without a forest canopy to impede her rays both comforted and unnerved Elendyne. On the one hand, her keen elvish sight allowed her to see every flutter of movement, from the swaying of the grass to the scurrying movements of small birds and mammals, for miles on all sides. On the other hand, the stark lack of cover made her feel unusually exposed, especially since she was so used to being surrounded by the forest sentinels of Mirkwood. While she portrayed an outward façade of stoic composure, she could not fool Nessa. The grey mare tossed her head uneasily and snorted her displeasure at the change in her companion’s mood. Elendyne found a rocky outcropping a little taller than Nessa’s head nestled into the side of a gently sloping hill as the sun started to set, and it was about as sheltered of a campsite as they would find that day. She did not bother with a campfire but instead ate cold trail rations before picketing Nessa and slipping into a fitful half-sleep, her weapons within arm’s reach.

It was more of a feeling, some unnamed instinct rather than any physical noise, that awoke Elendyne in the middle of the night. She quietly sat up and reached out with her senses, detecting nothing, but experience had taught her to trust her instincts even when her senses contradicted them. She rolled to her feet, her sword in her left hand, and made a cautious lap around her tiny campsite. Nessa had also awoken by now, and her nostrils flared uneasily as she watched Elendyne warily. Then the direction of the wind shifted, and the horse let loose a tiny whinny as an unwelcome scent wafted across her muzzle. Elendyne smelled it half a second later, the distinct odor of sweat, blood, grime, and man, tinted with a certain wildness she had never encountered before. But judging by the potency of the scent, there were more than one, and they were close.

A slight distortion of the air was the only warning noise Elendyne got, and she jerked to the side just before a crudely shaped arrow embedded itself in the ground where she had been standing. She snapped her gaze toward the arrow’s origin and sank into a battle crouch as at least a dozen figures melted out of the shadows and charged at her in an unruly, yet somehow organized mob. She had read scrolls about the wild men that plagued these hills as bandits, and they certainly deserved the title based on their appearance. Their faces bore long, scraggy beards, and the dirt and sweat covering their limbs was as much a part of their outfits as the poorly tanned leather skins and crude but deadly swords and hunting bows.

Elendyne had only a couple of seconds to get her bearings, and then everything melted away except the flurry and heat of battle. She could only guess at their intentions for attacking her, whether for her possessions or because of her supposed vulnerability as a lone female, but she pushed those thoughts aside as her body spun, twirled, and lashed out in the familiar sword-fighting patterns she had practiced for decades. At first she did an admirable job against such an onslaught of foes. She quickly decapitated the first bandit and used the momentum of the strike to complete her rotation and bury the blade in the second bandit’s chest. She held off two at once before chopping one’s sword arm off and slashing the throat of the second. However, she continually had to retreat backwards to keep from being surrounded, and she was quickly running out of room. Nessa screamed in panic and tugged frantically at her picket line, but the bandits were clearly more interested in the elf woman than a horse who could not fight back.

Elendyne had to turn her back to the advancing horde to take on a bandit who had slipped behind her, but as she turned back after leaving him to crumple to the ground clutching his stump of an arm, she found herself inches away from yet another bandit who had his sword raised with both hands for the deathblow. But before he could bring the blade down across her head, he grunted aloud as if someone had punched him in the gut and fell forward, a white-fletched arrow protruding from his back. Elendyne froze in shock and then could only watch as two familiar white horses galloped from the shadows like avenging ghosts straight into the knot of bandits, their hooded riders brandishing a bow and sword, respectively. The remaining bandits who were not trampled underfoot by the horses’ hooves quickly fell to the blonde warrior’s lightning-fast arrows and the raven-haired warrior’s grim, determined sword blows. The battle was over in less than a minute, leaving Elendyne staring in open-mouthed shock at the two elves before her as if she were in one of her waking dreams.

“Huor…Finrod…” she whispered their names, still not trusting her eyes as they dismounted their horses and approached her. Regardless, she slipped into speaking elvish automatically. “What in the name of the Valar are you doing here?”

“We received new orders to find and accompany you once we reunited with the king’s sentries,” Huor explained in his usual stoic, no-nonsense tone. His eyes quickly raked up and down her body, looking for any signs of injury in an efficient, thorough manner that made her resist the urge to squirm self-consciously. “Are you unhurt?”

“I’m fine…thanks to both of you,” she replied.

“Please, Huor, you’re not even telling her the full story!” Finrod interjected, his usual mischievous twinkle in his eye. The dark-haired elf gave Finrod a warning glare, but the younger one continued unabashed. “After bidding you farewell, we rode for a day before reuniting with the king’s sentries. They seemed perplexed to see us without you and asked if we had heard the recent reports of the wild men moving north along the Greylin River. I was about to say we hadn’t heard any updates since we had left to escort you, but Huor,” he paused to give the older elf a teasing wink, “got this positively terrified look and took off on his horse back the way we had come like he was fleeing from the great dragons of old!”

A slight look of mock horror crept across Huor’s normally stoic face, which he quickly tried to cover by clearing his throat. “I was…merely reacting in response to the potential gravity of the situation, and clearly my actions were justified given what just transpired.”

Elendyne broke into the conversation by laughing lightly in amusement at their bantering. “I am sorry, my friends, but I’m just so delighted to see you again.” She regained her composure and continued in a more serious tone. “I really owe you both my life.”

Finrod gave Elendyne a warm smile. “It was our honor and pleasure to come to your aid.” Then he shot a mischievous smirk at Huor. “Though I hope you’re prepared for us to be annoyingly persistent, because we’ll be accompanying you from here on.”

Elendyne gave both of her companions a fond look. “Nothing would make me happier. I welcome and appreciate your companionship.”

Huor politely cleared his throat to get their attention. “I believe it would be best to move from here as quickly as possible. This many bodies,” he indicated the dead bandits with a nod, “may attract unwanted attention that we would be prudent to avoid.” Neither Elendyne nor Finrod could disagree, so they all hurried to pitch the small campsite, calm and re-saddle Nessa, and retreat from the area. They rode at a brisk canter for about an hour before Huor called them to a stop in the midst of a small copse of hills, where they rested for a couple of hours until dawn broke.

The rest of Elendyne’s travels went smoothly after reuniting with Huor and Finrod. Even though she had only been on her own for two days, she realized that she had missed their company greatly. Having two additional warriors along also meant that no bandits or wild creatures tried to attack them at night and risk alerting whoever was on night watch. By the end of the third day of travel in this manner, the three elves found themselves overlooking the town of Greybarrow from the top of a tall, gently sloping hill. “Are you sure this is the place?” Finrod asked.

Elendyne consulted the map in her hands before rolling it up and returning it to her saddlebag. “The western shore of the eastern leg of the Greylin River. This has to be correct.”

Huor nodded in satisfaction. “Come then. Let us hope the men here are as receptive to our presence as our king had hoped.” Elendyne and Finrod turned their horses to follow his lead and started making the descent toward the town, hoping to come across a friendly face who would hear their message and welcome their aid.

Last edited by Silvan Arrow on Mon Feb 27, 2012 2:23 am; edited 1 time in total
Silvan Arrow
Silvan Arrow
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Re: The Battle of Celebrant

Post by Guest on Fri Jul 15, 2011 11:29 pm

The second day of spear training was significantly darker than the day before; the training grounds were surrounded by a wall of fog. Magorthaen was grateful for the chill breeze though. With the closing of the previous day’s training, he had been drenched with sweat despite the overcast weather. He had a feeling today would be no better.

Turmahîr Hammar stood staring at the line of his soldiers, the Angrenost Guard. They had all been equipped with not only a spear, but a shield as well. Without preamble, Hammar launched into his demonstration.

“The first tactic we will learn today is the shield wall. While useless against cavalry, which we will be sure to see, the shield wall provides an excellent defense against the standard infantry charges, especially when faced against overwhelming numbers.” Hammar’s deep, rough voice echoed in the fog. He held his shield and spear, in his left and right hands respectively, out to his sides. “These are your tools of survival. But more than you, they protect your fellow soldiers. Every soldier in the line is protected by the man to his right.”

Magorthaen glanced to his right; Halward looked toward him and gave a small wink. Magorthaen smiled and looked to his left, where Duinhir stood, watching Hammar intently. Neither Halward nor Duinhir had experience with the spear, or close-range foot combat, which was why Magorthaen had kept them close to him. In the formation Hammar was describing, it seemed to work out rather well.

“Complete shield coverage is key in this formation,” Hammar continued. “There are two ways of using the shield wall, with a sword or with a spear. We will focus on the spear, though either type may be utilized on the field.” Hammar pulled his shield and spear in toward his body in demonstration of the proper position. “Raise shields!”

The entire formation of soldiers lifted their shields and spears in the way that Hammar had demonstrated. Magorthaen’s shield covered his left side and the right side of Duinhir. His spear was held upright against his shoulder, and Halward’s shield covered most of his right side. Between Halward’s and his own shield, he was completely covered.

“The second row of the formation will hold their spears over the shoulder of the first row to provide the next line of defense. Raise spears!”

Magorthaen felt the rustling behind him as the soldiers maneuvered to get their spears up over their shoulders without hitting or spitting anyone. He saw the glint of the spearheads as they passed over his shoulder to poke out beyond the shield wall.

“Farther!” Hammar yelled. “When do you expect to kill the barbarians? When they come in for a kiss? Get those spears out!”

Groans accompanied Hammar’s command as the soldiers were forced to heft the spears out farther. With more of the spear held out in front of them, Magorthaen knew that the weight would increase and the balance would decrease. Holding the spears like that would require quite a bit of practice.

“Good…” Hammar stepped closer to the line of spears and swung out his own against them. Several spears fell to the ground, one bouncing off of Magorthaen’s shoulders. He couldn’t stop himself from flinching, which knocked Duinhir sideways.

“You worthless trash!” Hammar yelled. Magorthean swore he saw spittle fly from the veteran’s mouth. “Pick up your spears! The next man to drop his weapon will spend the night holding it in just this position. In fact, if you don’t show me you understand the severity of the situation, you will all be standing here until morning. Do you hear me?”

“Yes, Turmahîr!” they all called out in perfect unison. At least they got that right, Magorthaen thought silently.

“Raise shields!” Hammar ordered. A whooshing sound of metal-covered wooden shields followed as the front line brought their shields in position. “Raise spears!” A ringing of wooden shafts marked the positioning of the spears over Magorthaen’s shoulders. Hammar strode forward, swinging his spear more forcefully than he had the first time. Not a single spear dropped. Hammar walked further down the line, testing several different spots. Not a single spear dropped, though several wavered.

“Good enough,” Hammar said gruffly. “The next formation is for when you find yourself up against the wainriders or the barbarian’s excuse for a cavalry. Ideally, you will switch for the shield wall formation to the pike formation in the heat of battle as needed. Unfortunately, I don’t think I can trust you to pull it off just yet. So we will go through this process a little more slowly.”

Hammar ordered everyone to strap their shields to their backs and then organized the field into a massive square. Spears were held by the first three rows, swords by the next few, and archers composed the center. Hammar explained that cavalry would be held in reserve for both the shield wall and pike formation, though the pike formation was designed to resist enemy cavalry without support from one’s own.

“The first row of the pike formation kneels and places the butt of their spears against the ground. Point the tip of your spear where you imagine the heart of the poor beast would be as it races toward you. The rest of the pikemen will hold their spears out the same as they did in the shield wall, but closer in this time. No need to strain your weak arms just yet.”

Magorthaen knelt and dug the butt of his spear into the ground. He pictured a horse racing toward him, and did his best to angle the tip of his spear to where the heart might be. He noticed the spears to either side of him were at roughly the same angle. He couldn’t see the tips of the spears over his shoulders this time.

“When the cavalry closes in, let the front line take the initial brunt of the charge. When their spears are down, the next lines charge forward. This formation is also useful against infantry. The entire square advances slowly with all spears held forward. There are no weak spots in this formation. The entire square should be able to shift to prevent enemy cavalry from surrounding you. We will practice both of these formations until I think you can do it out in the field without disappointing me. For now, go get some water.”

Magorthaen stood and brushed the dirt off of the plates covering his knees. “Not too bad, huh?” Duinhir said cheerily. “I’m not even sweating yet!”

“You will be,” Halward retorted. “When you see the horde advancing toward you, you will do more than sweat.”

“Enough,” Magorthaen said. “You two should be focusing more on your technique than worrying about how easy or hard the day will be. Or the future. The fact of it is, we don’t have much time to train for it. And we need to be able to trust each other; everyone in the tulkarim. We need to be able to work together. That means getting along outside of the training field as well.”

“Of course, Cainenhîr,” they both said together.

After the water break, the Angrenost Guard resumed their formation in the field. Hammar went over both of the formations several times until he grudgingly admitted satisfaction. Though the sun could not be seen through the dense fog, Magorthaen thought that it was getting steadily darker. Rheinhîr Harnastin eventually came to the field and spoke quietly with Hammar for a few moments. When Hammar returned his attention to the gathered soldiers, he was grinning widely.

“At the request of your Rheinhîr, we will be doing some more… lively training. I will split you into two shield wall formations, though without spears. Lets move!” Hammar shouted and pointed until there were two separate formations on either side of him. When he was satisfied, he held his arms up in the air and shouted “Attention!” When the formations were quiet and still, he delivered his instructions. “Both formations will march slowly toward each other. When the front lines meet, use your shields to push back your opponents. The rear lines of the formations will push forward as well, using their weight to drive their own formation on. When the line of one formation breaks, the victor will drive through and use their shields to shatter the defeated formation. This will give you an understanding of what it will feel like in battle, with pressure on both sides of you and no where to go. It will give you an appreciation of what you will have to do to survive. The losing formation will have a night of further training. Go.” With that, Hammar ran from the field. For a few moments, neither side moved. Then Magorthaen stepped forward, and his line was forced to follow. Other soldiers down the line had moved when he did, so it almost looked like a solid, uniform motion. He couldn’t stop himself from grinning, despite his heart beating wildly. He had never done anything like this before!

The opposite formation moved forward as well, though a little more hesitantly than they had. Magorthaen’s ears were ringing with the sounds of the march, and the thumping of his heart. Now he was feeling the sweat that slicked his skin and dripped in the most uncomfortable and inconvenient places. The opposing formation drew closer, until he could see the apprehension in his enemies eyes. He pictured them as dirty, barbaric men wielding clubs and axes and wearing armor that was caked in dirt. It was hard not to run ahead of his line, but that would have defeated the purpose entirely.

The tension grew almost unbearable as the two formations were mere feet from each other. A roar erupted from both sides, and Magorthaen felt himself joining in. A battle cry, though he knew not what he said. It was just a yell, but a loud one. At last his shield touched the man before him: Cainenhîr Amodréd, the annoying man from Pelargir. What were the chances! He released all of his energy and anger toward Amodréd, using his shield and his weight to push the man back. A sudden weight against his back nearly made him lose balance, but Halward and Duinhir managed to keep him upright. The roar continued unabated, and he realized he had not yet drawn a new breath.

The struggle continued for what felt like hours, though it certainly could not have been. The weight pressing against him was like a tide, first pushing him forward and then pulling him back. His body felt on fire and his throat was parched. Amodréd was grimacing as he tried to push Magorthaen back, but to no avail. He thought his heart might burst with how hard it was beating, but he felt such a rush of energy as he had never felt before. He pushed harder, and he felt Halward lean in toward him to add his own weight. And suddenly, without any sort of warning, Amodréd buckled and fell backward. Magorthaen surged forward with a cry of intense elation. He felt almost no resistance despite the numbers of opponents before him. Halward and Duinhir drove him forward, and their shields split their enemy apart.

In moments Magorthaen was on the other side, clear of the defeated formation. Turmahîr Hammar, Rheinhîr Harnastin, and the two strangers who had accompanied him were standing their to greet him. Hammar clasped him on the shoulder, and then moved on to the rest of the victorious soldiers. Harnastin was clapping and offering congratulations. The two strangers stood still and emotionless. Magorthaen had the feeling that they were unimpressed.

More backslapping brought his attention back to those around him, where his tulkarim had gathered. They all looked as excited and as exhausted as he felt himself. But they had earned their night’s rest.


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Re: The Battle of Celebrant

Post by Kalon Ordona II on Sun Sep 18, 2011 3:01 am

The sixth day of spear training saw a break from the gloomy weather, for the sun shone clear in the early morning. The breezes were still cool, but the sun brought warmth with her light, and though it cheered the training soldiers it also caused them to thirst more often as the day wore on. At least the training area had mostly dried. The ground was still damp from the rain two nights ago, but it was no longer full of puddles as it had been yesterday.

They practiced the shield wall again, and here as at other times, Anglad, Darthion, Baranor and Hirbarad were interspersed among their tulkarim, helping to display the proper forms so that each of the seventeen youths increased in skill as evenly as possible. Anglad had already noticed a general improvement in the strength and stamina of his fellow squad members. However, the days had not been without hardships. Turmahîr Hammar was hard on everyone as he moved among the squads, and his praises were reserved only for paragon performance, but though it was easy to resent him, there was an honesty and consistency about his methods that inspired effort and integrity. Today the final level had been added to the shield wall training. Hammar had put groups of tulkarim together to train in unison, to illustrate how they would need to work together within the army at large, moving in unison as a host as well as they did as a squad.

By the end of the training the afternoon weather had grown relatively hot, more than the Angrenost guard was used to so early in the spring. Hammar drilled them verbally one last time, as a whole, impressing upon them how vital it was that they remember all that they had learned. He finally bid them a short but honest encouragement, and that was that. The men were dismissed from the training area to eat, but not to rest. The barracks had received little maintenance over the past few days of urgent instruction. After their light meal, everyone would have work to do.

All sixteen youths in the tulkarim, plus its cainenhîr, carried bowls of stew to a worn wooden table in the barracks hall. Magorthaen avoided taking either spot at the ends, sitting instead on one of the long side benches. From there, the usual pairs and groups gravitated toward one another. Orogond did take one of the head seats, whereupon Halward, squinting with what could have been either mirth or jealousy, insinuated himself into the other. Anglad himself tended to stay close to Orogond in order to keep him somewhat more tactful, yet he kept distance enough from the brash youth not to be overly irritated by him. Narumir sat next to Magorthaen, a reddish, rugged counterpoint to Magorthaen's fairer yet harder complexion. Brand, Baramir and Arodion, as usual, sat together in a row, as did the inseparable Findegil and Araglas. The rest simply sat wherever they first found place. Callon was the last to sit, giving way to the others first, so he ended up on the corner next to Halward. Darthion switched places with Menveru in order to sit opposite Callon, perhaps out of some sense of protection.

As they began to eat, Orogond was obviously feeling pleased. "We've gotten better," he said through a grin. Anglad turned his head, unused to hearing Orogond speak in terms of the tulkarim as a whole. His first words seemed more for himself than the group, however, and his next angled them toward his usual character. "The best there is, if Magorthaen keeps the rest of you at this level. They'll put us on the front lines, for sure." He was almost laughing. Anglad was no longer surprised.
"Not that I intend to drag us down," Findegil said, leaning over to look at Orogond, "but I'd sooner not crash into the Balcoth first, if it's all the same to you."
"You'd better not, and no, it isn't."
Narumir piped in with the verbal equivalent of slapping their wrists. "Our duty is to be at our best. Whatever else will be must come on its own."
Halward humphed but said nothing.
Menveru said, "Aren't we moving out in two days?"
"Tomorrow, actually," Magorthaen said after a spoonful of soup. He shook his head, suddenly irritated. "Do you pay attention to anything other than the stick you swing around in your hands? There is more in a battle than killing and dying, Menveru, and you'd best remember that. If it comes down to you having to make a tactical decision, or to even remember an order, I would hate to be the man depending on you." Magorthaen took another spoonful of soup, but he wasn't done just yet.

"In fact," he continued, "before we march out tomorrow, you will be in charge of checking our equipment and supplies. Halward will watch over you so no one will have to suffer for your absentmindedness." Magorthaen glanced at Halward, and the archer nodded slightly.

An uncomfortable silence settled over the table. They ate in silence for a few moments, none of them quite feeling it was their place to speak just then. Anglad, wanting to salvage their off time together and bolster their squad unity, finally spoke up. "Orogond is right, though," he said, trying a lopsided smile. "We have gotten better."
Araglas agreed heartily. "We've been ahead since we bested Amodréd's tulkarim the other day!"
Darthion put in, "I don't know we're as good as all that, but Hammar's certainly whipped us into a solid unit."
"I don't think it's just Hammar," Callon said. "We're the ones who did the work."
"Both certainly," said Hirbarad. "I'm sure no soldier wants to be on the front lines, though, no matter how good he is." With a chuckle he amended, "Except Orogond, of course."
Anglad tried to put a good spin on it this time by saying, "If they do give us the front, I'm sure Orogond will keep our spirits up."
"Hah! Just keep up with me and do as I do."
"Well, as Magorthaen does," Brand corrected. "But otherwise, I suppose you've the right of it."
"I just hope we do what we set out to do," said Duinhir, finally speaking.
Dervorin, sitting erect next to him, gave an approving nod. "That, I promise you, we will."

Side conversations had already begun by that point among those sitting together, effectively winding down the communal conversation. Anglad, for his part, took to discussing sections of the week's training with Baramir, Arodion and Baranor, who were sitting next to him. Arodion, on the side of Anglad opposite from Orogond's end, discreetly took amusement in Orogond's apparent view that he was the best spearman of the squad after only six days of training, whereas Anglad had been fully trained years before. Anglad wasn't inclined to think too much of this, however, since Orogond often beat him in sparring matches regardless of what weapons were used best by whom. "He's the better fighter. I wouldn't mind having him next to me in a battle." He leaned closer to the side with a grin, the noise of the hall masking his words. "Just as long as he realizes I have to share his space, too."

The meal drew to a close with, if not merriment, at least a passable good humor overall. After returning their bowls to the tubs, the tulkarim departed together to the yard, following Magorthaen to receive their instructions from the barracks master, an old and straight-backed man named Mablund. He knew what needed to be done. He instructed Magorthaen to assign at least six of his men to work on either the wall or the structure of the barracks itself, another four to preparing the tents and camps of their squad for quick departure in the morning, and the rest Mablund left up to the cainenhîr's best judgment.

Magorthaen decided to send Darthion, Orogond, Baranor and Hirbarad to the wall, Dervorin, Brand, Findegil and Araglas to the barracks, Anglad, Narumir, Halward and Baramir to the tents, and then Duinhir, Callon, and Arodion to the armory, and finally himself and Menveru to the kitchens. The young men dispersed smartly, grouping together as assigned and heading straight for their respective areas of duty.

Later, in the kitchens, Magorthaen and Menveru were scrubbing clay or metal pots, pans, dishes and utensils. Grateful for the assignment of a relatively mindless task, Menveru was nevertheless subdued next to Magorthaen, though his discomfort did not interfere with the efficiency of his work. Menveru always tried his best, and though he was forgetful of some things, he did have a natural competency above the norm when it came to physical tasks. Along with several youths from other tulkarim, he and Magorthaen set about their work with great effect.

"I apologize for my harsh words at the table earlier," Magorthaen said to Menveru. "You know I value everyone in the tulkarim, and we have all learned to depend on each other. I just wanted you to understand the reality of what we are facing, how serious it really is."
Menveru nodded. "I do understand, Magorthaen. Its just that... why should we dread something that is still so far away?"
"Because it is important. Think of it this way, Menveru: if you always expect the worst, then the only surprises are welcome ones. If you expect every day to be your last, then the day after is even more beautiful. If you constantly relax and let go, you might find yourself unable to deal with those surprises."
Menveru mulled this over for a moment. His puzzled expression indicated he had his doubts, but he was willing to take his cainenhîr's word for it. "I will try, Magorthaen," he finally said. "I'm sure you are right, but, that just seems a depressing way to live."
Magorthaen laughed and clapped Menveru on his shoulder. "It is, Menveru. It certainly is."

Elsewhere, Magorthaen's choices for assigned groups were vindicating themselves. Darthion managed to bolster Orogond and the watchmen, Baranor and Hirbarad, into an effective unit that Mablund could use on and around the wall. Duinhir, Callon and Arodion were a great help in the armory despite their apparent differences; Arodion dutifully went from task to task in good order, while Duinhir helped coordinate the three as well as some others along with the weapons master's instructions to increase efficiency, and Callon was back and forth between everyone, making sure all had the tools they needed and fetching supplies or carrying messages wherever necessary. Meanwhile, Dervorin and Brand kept Findegil and Araglas in line and focused on whatever the older men of the guard had for them to do.

Anglad was making good progress along with Narumir, Halward and Baramir. Working anywhere in the vicinity of Narumir always helped to maintain focus, and with Baramir and Anglad in company as a dual force of common sense and balance, Halward's cynicism gave way to his perceptive instincts and helpful insight. All four were intelligent and competent enough to make the kinds of decisions requisite to readying the squad's camps and tents. The tents they would need for this one last night before packing it with them on the road, but the belongings of each member of the tulkarim needed to be organized, packed and ready to go. Both Anglad and Halward had a rapport with each of their fellows, though for different reasons. Halward tended to be the one with the answers; Anglad tended to be the one with good advice. Of the two, Anglad tended to have a slightly better reputation, if only for his easier personality and unshakable image. Halward was more ambitious, tending to be noticed more when he accomplished something. Narumir was a stern middle ground between them, nothing if not a rock for the entire tulkarim to stand on, though he tended to be underappreciated for it. And Baramir was well content to do his part as best he could. He, Baranor and Arodion were unflagging in their willingness to be about their duty.

Baramir's part in their task was to dismantle as much of each tent as possible while still keeping a sturdy cover for the men during the night. Narumir folded all the canvas chairs and tables, leaving only the cots, and emptied all else to be organized into rolls or saddle bags, which was for Halward and Anglad. Having the same two people account for the whole squad helped to standardize the whole affair and keep them all from comparing among themselves or trying to take too much along. Halward and Anglad worked together to separate each person's belongings according to their best judgment from what could be taken and what should be left inside the barracks. Anglad kept most of his own things in the barracks anyway, as did several others, so he and Halward also went back and forth between the camps and the barracks, putting everything for their squad well in order.

On one of their trips to the barracks, arms full with belongings put into sacks, Halward must have been in a relatively good mood, for he seemed more open than usual. "So, we'll finally get a taste of war," he said, half wistfully, half anxiously.
"Easterlings will be tougher than orcs, I suppose," Anglad responded. He wasn't quite sure how he felt about it, himself.
"I've expected something like this for a long time, at least in the back of my mind, but... I guess I never prepared myself enough." He looked over as they neared the barracks. "You've had training to be a full ehtar, I know. Before Magorthaen became cainenhîr, I thought of asking to learn the spear from you, but... once I saw how you fight, I started to think of you as a rival, the same as him, and I couldn't bring myself to ask."
This was new to Anglad. "What about the older men?"
Halward scrunched one side of his face slightly and shook his head.
"And after Magorthaen became cainenhîr?"
Halward shrugged as they passed inside. "There didn't seem to be much point anymore. These past few days have made me see differently."
"You've always been the same, Anglad, ever since I met all of you. You haven't changed at all. I think I followed your example more than I wanted to. Now I think, perhaps I should have changed more than I did. Then I might feel more ready for this war."
"What about Hammar's training?"
They began to climb a flight of wooden stairs. "A few days isn't enough to learn it. I know the bow; I don't know the spear--not well enough."
And I the spear, but not the bow, Anglad thought. Then, at the same moment he had the idea to share knowledge, he wondered if Halward hadn't steered him toward that goal during the entire conversation. "Perhaps I am lacking skills for this war as well. I've never been the best with a bow. I think I see too much at once; focusing on a single point makes me feel blind to everything else."
"Is that why you hold the bow sideways when you shoot?"
"I haven't thought about it much until now," Anglad said. "Probably."
As they reached the top of the stairs, Anglad decided it didn't really matter whether Halward was being manipulative, because he was right. "It seems to me that we each have what the other lacks. It's a shame it's taken the shadow of war to cause us to realize it."
"Then, would you teach me an ehtar's spearmanship if I teach you archery?"
Anglad offered a smile to the darker-haired youth. "How could I say no?" He still felt as if he was giving more than he was getting, but then, Halward had always been respectful to Magorthaen even if he tended to pry or challenge. And, the better Halward knew the spear, the more chance they had of survival as a tulkarim. Anglad was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt.

The next day, long before the sun crested the circle of mountains, the Angrenost guard rose, ate one last, hearty meal in the barracks, and as a host, broke camp and began the long march to Calenardhon.
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Re: The Battle of Celebrant

Post by Blackrock on Thu Sep 22, 2011 10:29 am

After their earlier exchange, the two brothers had grown quiet – each leaving the other to his own thoughts. Helmgar’s words had left a rift between them, but the silence did not come because of that. It was merely the fact that the two knew each other so well, they shared a bond that ran stronger than blood, they were two parts of the same whole. They had no reason to speak idle words, because they did not feel uncomfortable in the quiet company of the other.

The sun was slowing running its course in the sky and was now sinking in the West; day made way for night.

“The nights have grown darker as of late…have you noticed?” asked Léohelm.

“Aye and longer too, something fell is afoot.”

“I do not like this, our father told us of such times – back in the olden days, when the world was younger.”

“I remember…” Helmgar grew quiet for a moment, before asking “What could it be? Men speak of the Shadow in the woods…down south and east…”

“The Mirkwood, aye…it is an evil place, but I fear that this is something bigger.”

“What could be a greater threat than what lurks in the shadows of those trees?”

“I know not, my brother…but I do not like it. Not at all and I…” he trailed off, waving his massive hand dismissively.

His voice had grown calmer than when he was with the others, more sombre and older – showing that behind his seemingly impenetrable facade of mirth and happiness, stood a grim and world-weary man. But it only lasted for a moment, before long he seemed carefree as usual.

“Has this river moved since the last time I came out or are you just going slowly because you enjoy my company?” he complained after a while.

“This hill conceals it” Helmgar nodded at a small rising before them “once we pass by it, you’ll see the Greylin.”

Of course, Helmgar had no doubt that his brother knew that – Léohelm knew much and more about the lands around them, more so than his younger brother. As the silence lengthened, they once again turned to their thoughts and passed the short remainder of the journey in silence. Not long after, though, the Greylin did indeed come into view.

The rays of the setting sun coloured it the colour of molten gold and it seemed that the whole river was one endless stream of the precious metal; ever flowing, never halting. They watched it quietly for a few moments, after which Helmgar spurred the horse onwards. Once again he found himself on the pleasant spot where he had been with his son earlier, the only difference being that the shadows were now facing the other way.

He dismounted from the horse and helped his brother do the same. The big man was still quite nimble, Helmgar suspected that he could get off the horse himself if need be.
Regardless, he then helped Léohelm reach the river, where the older brother decided to take a seat and began peering in the waters. Helmgar paced around him back and forth, waiting to see what conclusion his sibling would come to.

“This is not as big a problem as you suspect it is, brother” Léohelm announced after a while “But you were wise to worry. Help me up.”

Helmgar approached to lift his older brother to his feet, thankful that Léohelm still had one leg to support his weight, for he was not a light man. With that done, he began speaking and pointing various locations along the bank to Helmgar.

“The bank is steep here, but it is steeper still both up and downstream. And most of the snows have melted away, it was not a particularly harsh winter and the summer will be here soon. The greatest threat is here” he gestured at the surrounding area “We must reinforce this side of the river with dikes; I doubt we will have time to work on the other. Thankfully the terrain over there is lower, so the water will naturally divert in that direction.”

“The bank is only steep upstream until about Old Ramgar’s estate, after that it becomes even lower than this one” he tapped his foot on the ground they were standing on.

“Aye, but Ramgar’s estate is on high ground and his fields and pastures are south of it, safely behind the chain of hills that dot the landscape from there to the foot of the mountains.” he then added “And since when did you took to calling Ramgar “old”? He’s barely ten winters my senior, next thing you’ll tell me is that I’m old as well!” a laugh followed.

“In that case, I shall tell the others tomorrow.” Helmgar told him.

“Yes” his brother nodded thoughtfully “but it may not even come to that. I suspect that if there is a flooding, it will be upstream and will not reach us here.”

“And yet, we must be prepared. You taught me as much.”

“Aye, that and more I have.” He turned at the dwindling sun in the West, after which he focused on his younger brother again “It promises to be a warm night...for this time of year.”

“Indeed” Helmgar only realised that when his brother told him; the day had been chilly, but the afternoon brought in a warm breeze from the South. “

“A perfect night to spend out in the wilds, is it not?”

Helmgar glanced at him askew “I plan to spend it under the roof of my house.”

“Not today, my friend.” Léohelm smiled at him, but it was not one of those light smiles or grins he usually was something far more meaningful “I was of a mind to make a journey in this area and what better companion than my own brother?”

“You speak foolishness!” Helmgar said unhappily “If you want a journey, you can tell me and we shall do it by day, with provisions enough to see us through.”

“Look at yourself!” Léohelm said sternly, a cold note creeping in his voice “When was the last time you slept under the moon and the stars, brother?”

Helmgar had no answer for that, it was indeed long ago.

“Our father oft told us” his brother continued “that a man is a man when he sleeps on the cold earth, on the blanket of leaf and grass, wet with dew. With the ants and the bugs and the chirping of the birds to keep him company, under the watchful gaze of the stars above. Have you forgotten?”

“No” Helmgar told him grimly.

“Then what? Is it this?” he patted the stump where his leg had once been.

“It is some-“ the younger brother began explaining, but was cut short.

“I’m maimed, brother. Not dead. Or dying. And I am still a man, even if a good part of me is missing. Will you confine me to my house, as a bird is locked in a cage? To be watched over by my daughters until, one by one, they depart from me to live with other men and raise families of their own?” he sighed “Our House will live on, but my line is as severed as my leg. No son will bear my name, no warrior will announce that he is son of Léohelm...”

“You have a daughter, one who can bend a bow as well as any man I know”

“Aye, but it is not the same, you know as well as I” Léohelm told him “She serves out of a sense of duty for her lame father, but she was not meant for it. No more than you or I were meant to sit home and look after a house.”

Helmgar crossed his arms in front of his chest, looking out over the river. What his brother said rang true and yet...why tell him now? What had caused his shell of seemingly uncaring nature to crack?

“Yet, you seem most joyful at all times, brother” he told him “Full of laughter and smiles....”

“Aye, that is so” Léohelm said “How else would a man live in such a situation if he did not have laughter on his mouth and mirth in his heart?”

“Why do you tell me all this?” Helmgar decided to get to the heart of the matter.

“A good question, young brother” Léohelm gave him one of his typical grins, before taking on a more serious expression “I already told you...I know not what, but something will happen soon. The world is changing...”

Helmgar’s frown deepened, as his eyes continued peering amidst the waters. Léohelm was truly their father’s son, much more than Helmgar ever was or would be. And old Aethelred knew many things, he sensed many things. It was a natural talent, a deep connection with tree and leaf and grass, with the world around them that allowed his judgements to be sound and true. Truly, Helmgar had little knowledge of how this...talent was developed or even passed on or if it could even be called such. It was merely long years and winters, piled upon one another, the wisdom of their forefathers passed on through the generations, even before they had come here from the South.

Whatever his brother felt, Helmgar was blind and deaf to it. He was cut from a different cloth; he carried the other part of their heritage. The warrior, the wanderer, the free spirit of the wide plains. So, who was he to know what Léohelm had seen or heard? Who was he to doubt his brother’s predictions?

“That is why...” Léohlem’s voice snapped him from his thoughts. He had not felt it, but the silence had dragged on for quite a while he now realised. “That is why I told you this...who knows if we’ll ever get another chance to speak quietly again?

“Now, help me get to that tree, it will provide more support than your shoulder!" Once his arm hugged the rough bark, he gave his next order "Bring the not that one, the other. We still have quite a journey ahead of us.”

So, it was decided. Once more his brother had proven that he was made of harder stuff. On the surface, once more Helmgar mused as he brought the fresh horse along, Léohelm appeared calm and gentle. But underneath....much like their late father, he was pure iron. Cold, hard, unbending. Despite his experience, Helmgar still had much to learn if he ever hoped to have his way with the older sibling.

“Where to?” he asked glumly, once they were both mounted on the horse. The one they had ridden up until now was following behind them, given the chance to rest.

“There” Léohelm pointed at the forest on the other side of the Greylin “A ford crosses the river further upstream, it is no more than an hour’s ride from here.”

Helmgar tapped the horse gently on the ribs and so they began the next leg of their strange journey. The sun would well and truly set before long, leaving them in the dark, but both were locals and had travelled throughout the surroundings more times than either of them could remember. As before, they rode in silence; each man leaving the other to his thoughts. Grim and slightly frowning, as usual, Helmgar was pondering on his brother’s words.

What were these changes he sensed? He wondered what was going on in the wider world, down South. For many years the Éothéod had lived here in the distant North, far away from the woes and troubles of the southern kingdom. Too many Helmgar thought. Far too long had they lingered here, blind to the world around them. Who knew what shadow was stirring in the Mirkwood or farther still, to the East where once their hated enemy had come from?

What if he was thinking of the wrong direction, though? His eyes looked up at the distant shapes of mountains to the North, from whence orcs would often come down and raid. Could that be the source of his brother’s concerns? But why would it be? So far, the wretched creatures had never done them much a community. Men were killed true enough; some were crippled – as both of them knew all too well – but never did the problem grow to a threat. Until now, perhaps?

Shaking his head somewhat angrily, he chased those thoughts away from his mind. He looked around and determined that the ford was getting nearer, based on one of the hills nearby. As far as he remembered, it could be seen just after a man left the landmark behind his back.

Not long after, they were crossing the ford, the horse’s hooves splashing through the water. Despite the many snows melting, it was still crossable, although the water reached up higher than usual. So, it was as his brother had said, Helmgar considered – the only real threat was downstream where they had been, where the land was lower. Once on the other side, Léohelm told him where to head next and soon enough they were on the eaves of the forest.

The wood was an old place and had once extended beyond the distant bank, into the hills and plains that now made up the homesteads and fields of the Éothéod. Understandably, much of it had been cleared away to open up more and more new land, as the number of people increased. On this side of the river attempt had been made to settle it, as it was widely recognised as a gathering for orc warbands before they descended on the nearby towns and farmholds. Perhaps the strangest thing about it, though, was that it had no name of its own. Men simply referred to it as “the forest” or “Greybarrow’s forest” when dealing with outsiders.

One more story lost to the mists of time, Helmgar mused. With each layer of years upon it, the simple fact turned to story, then to legend, then to myth. Forgotten in the swirl of centuries and millennia...

“That is a good place” his brother once more snapped him from his thoughts, gesturing at a nearby clearing.

Helmgar realised that they had been under the leafy canopy for some time now. Wordless, he led the horse in that direction; a small glade nestled between the ancient trees. He dismounted soon after, then helped his brother do the same. After seeing to the horses, he unstrapped a small axe from his belt and went to look for fallen branches. Although he had not anticipated this unexpected stay in the wild, he always carried an axe with him – who knows when the need for one might arise?

The forest was dark and full with the sounds of woodland animals. It took him some time and a few trips back to the campsite, but eventually he found enough kindling to see them through the night. Meanwhile, Léohelm had managed to start a fire with what Helmgar had brought him earlier, despite the fact that most of the firewood had been wet. The rest of it had been left close to the fire, so it had a chance to dry before being given to the fiery tongues.

As Helmgar took a seat opposite his brother, he glanced up at the stars above. The moon would come out soon and shine down upon them in its silvery light. Much as it did last night and the night before it and all the nights before that, back until the shaping of the world. So too did the stars – beautiful, unreachable, eternal. Everything was the same, but Léohelm claimed otherwise. What change was coming, Helmgar wondered and, more importantly, when?

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Re: The Battle of Celebrant

Post by Gadreille on Mon Oct 17, 2011 3:42 pm

Earliest hours of the 25th of Súlìmë (March)

Aethylwyn struggled against sleep as the moon crossed the sky and hid behind a patch of clouds, making a single lantern the only source of light. The stars above were the only other thing to light her way and keep her company, besides Amras, of course. She would walk him back and forth across the bridge, the roaring of the high river waters the only discernable sound across the hilly plain. The mountains beyond to the north were not visible in the darkness, and the only evidence of them was the absense of stars below.

Amras hooves clicked as he crossed the wooden bridge yet again. Aethylwyn had dismounted, holding the lantern ahead of her as she and Amras paced back and forth. Every once in a while a sound beyond the clicking of hooves or roaring of water would play, and Aethylwyn's ears would focus on the sound until she identified it; usually being the hoot of an owl or song of the cricket. Even once she heard a wolf howl in the far distance.

After many hours the moon finally reemerged, just as Aethylwyn thought she would surely fall asleep against the calm serenity of the night. The moon comforted her, and she thought that the rest of the night would be easy. It brought a pit to her stomach when she heard a noise that was completely foreign to the peaceful night in Greybarrow. It was a clang. Was that not the sound of metal upon metal? Amras ears flicked as a horse in the distance whinneyed. Aethylwyn peered into the distance, the moonlight guiding her eyes.

There! In the distance, three riders were fending off wildmen! Wildmen? This close to Greybarrow? Aethylwyn mounted Amras and urged him forward. She hooked her lantern to the pommel of the saddle and armed herself with bow and arrow. Her legs clung tightly to the horse's back, and Amras had long since learned to feel the slight urging of his rider's knees. It was a specialty of all the éothéod to be able to lead a horse without hands, using a mix of nudges with the knees and feet, and verbal orders. The hill was straight ahead, and Amras lead her easily toward the fray.

She watched closely as she approached, observing the scene and making sure that there would be no need for reinforcements. There were two men and a woman fighting off wildmen. The wildmen were many and Aethylwyn was angered at the brutality and simplicity of the act. The bandits were obviously trying to rob the three of their possessions.

Aethylwyn watched as one man and one women swung their swords with grace and great ability; another was using archery much like Aethylwyn was accustomed to, though his bow was greater and more fine. All three were covered in blood, and Aethlywyn could not discern if it was blood of their own or their enemy. As she neared, she realized that these were not men, but elves! Elves, here in Greybarrow! She had seen elves before, a few times, when she was young. Being so close to Mirkwood, one would think she would have seen elves all of the time. But they were a reclusive lot, those wood elves, and she couldn't remember how old she was the last time she had seen one.

By the time Aethylwyn had reached the hill, the three had been pushed down the hill. Though they were receeding, Aethylwyn was confident that with another bow, she and the three could keep the bandits from Greybarrow. If, by chance, she did not survive, she would be sure there would not be enough bandits left to do any real damage to her home. She let loose her arrow and quickly reached for another. She had already aimed a second arrow before the first hit its mark. The she-elf gave one glance at Aethylwn, her face filled with grim determination. Then she nodded to Aethylwyn and Aethylwn nodded back, and they continued the battle.

It did not take long for the four to dispose of most of the bandits. The rest went running, and Aethylwyn chased them but not far, just enough for them to not be able to regroup for a second attack. The other three did not chase; Aethylwyn could see that their horses were weary and frightened; the road must have been long and hard for this trio.

Aethylwyn rounded back and set Amras to a sprint to catch up to the elves, who were already trotting toward Greybarrow. They slowed as she approached, and politely let her lead the group, as was her duty to do. By this time, the morning was just beginning its approach, the blackness of the sky barely giving way to grey of dawn. She replaced her bow on her back and took up the lantern once again. "I am Aethylwn, daughter of Léohelm and archer of the éoherë. Welcome to Greybarrow, Lord and Lady elves. It is an honor to have witnessed your valiant defense. Whatever I can do to assist you, I will see it done."
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Re: The Battle of Celebrant

Post by Silvan Arrow on Wed Nov 02, 2011 8:28 pm

Elendyne and her companions had to tread slowly as they descended down the hill towards Greybarrow. The grasslands here were peppered with small rocks, and the land showed evidence of either a recent rain or the river having overflowed its banks. In the blue-black darkness just before sunrise, the elves were in no hurry and let their horses pick a comfortable pace.

However, they did not go far before the nagging threat of danger pressed at the back of Elendyne’s mind. She caught Huor’s eye and nodded to confirm what the seasoned warrior also sensed. He jerked the reins and turned his horse back as an arrow struck the ground where he would have tread. The stallion reared and neighed his alarm as Huor drew his sword, followed by Elendyne and Finrod, who drew his bow in the blink of an eye. “Take the fight to them!” Huor barked in elvish as he led the charge back up the hill, having already pinpointed the target. Elendyne and Finrod spotted them seconds later. Behind a stand of boulders lay nearly two dozen more wildmen. Their manner of dress and appearance marked them as companions to the ones the elves had previously slain to protect Elendyne.

“Murderers! Murderers!” the wildmen roared as most of them charged on foot while a handful covered their charge with arrows, a clever strategy against the three mounted warriors. Finrod managed to take out two of the archers with deftly fired arrows before the two sides clashed. Instead of a direct frontal assault, Huor and Elendyne veered abruptly in opposite directions, forcing the group of wildmen to scramble to split up and stumble over each other.

Huor and Elendyne kept up the pressure on the frontlines with hit and run tactics, darting in to deal killing strokes and wounds to the wildmen nearest them while Finrod harried them at a distance with arrows. The blond archer focused his attentions on the archers and finished them off first before turning his attentions to the melee warriors. Despite their crude weapons and lack of battle finesse, the wildmen still had the advantage of numbers. Huor and Elendyne sustained several cuts on their arms from swinging their swords at close range against multiple foes, and their cloaks became stained with both their blood and that of the wildmen. The three were forced into a closer group, losing their advantage of maneuverability, and had to retreat farther down the hill towards Greybarrow.

The whistle of an arrow reached Elendyne’s ears, but before she could instinctively duck to avoid it, the deadly barb struck home in a wildman’s chest. She turned in her saddle to lock eyes with another mounted warrior, a human woman to her great surprise. She nodded in acknowledgement to the newfound ally, her face grim and determined. The other woman nodded in return, her eyes showing no fear, before returning to the battle.

With the aid of a second archer, the four quickly managed to kill most of the wildmen and send the rest fleeing for their lives. The human pursued them briefly, but Elendyne could feel Nessa’s chest heaving with exhaustion beneath her. She met Huor and Finrod’s eyes and began slowly guiding the horses back towards Greybarrow. They seemed to realize that food and rest awaited them back in that direction, which encouraged them to increase their pace to a trot.

The human woman quickly caught up with them, as her horse still had energy to spare. Elendyne held out a hand in beckoning, allowing her to lead the group. As they neared the town, however, Huor moved his horse in front of Elendyne’s while Finrod dropped back to bring up the rear. Even though they had fought alongside one of Greybarrow’s warriors, Huor’s centuries of hard-wired caution demanded that he not take any chances with the safety of one of Mirkwood’s best healers.

The human woman brought the group to a stop at the entrance to Greybarrow and took up her lantern so the elves could see her face. Elendyne was surprised that a human woman so young had taken up the mantle of a warrior but respected her valor and the skills she had already shown. "I am Aethylwn, daughter of Léohelm and archer of the éoherë. Welcome to Greybarrow, Lord and Lady elves. It is an honor to have witnessed your valiant defense. Whatever I can do to assist you, I will see it done."

With a quick glance back at Elendyne, Huor moved his horse aside and motioned for her to come forward as their spokesperson. She slowly took down the hood of her cloak, letting her raven black tresses spill over her shoulders. She met Aethylwyn’s gaze calmly and spoke in the Common Tongue. “I am Elendyne Amandil, daughter of Aerandir and Healer of Mirkwood.” She motioned to her companions and introduced them in turn as they also removed their hoods. “This is Huor and Finrod, warriors of Mirkwood who ride as my companions and protectors. We bring an urgent message from our king to your leaders. The wildmen of these plains now move to threaten the kingdoms of Men, and we fear much worse may come if your people do not act quickly.” Elendyne held out both hands as a sign of peace. “I offer my services as a Healer and the weapons of my companions as a sign of good faith that the words we speak are true.” She fell silent and awaited Aethylwyn’s response.
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Re: The Battle of Celebrant

Post by Guest on Wed Jan 18, 2012 11:22 pm

21st of Súlìmë (March)

The march was fast-paced. The excitement of even the few hardiest warriors was contagious, and, like a plague, it spread throughout the Angrenost Guard as they departed from the only home they had known over the past years. Billowing clouds rolled across the sky, but rivers of blue gave hope that rain might be delayed. Every soldier felt energized, yet it was mixed with a sense of dread, like a poison biting at the will of a hardy man. As Magorthaen looked back at the foot of the Mountains of Mist, where Angrenost lay encircled by the cradling arms of the southernmost reaches of the mountains, he feared that he would never see the place again. Yet, at the same time, he hoped that he would never have to. This was his chance to move on, beyond the decaying guard at Angrenost; if he survived the war, anyway.

The Angrenost Guard marched in columns, with the ranks of younger members enclosed by the veterans. Magorthaen marched at the head of his own tulkarim, which was itself divided into four rows of four men abreast. Magorthaen knew their order without having to look back. As their cainenhîr, it was expected of him to know everything about his tulkarim. Anglad led the first squad, standing on the far left of the first row. Beside him were Darthion, Narumir and Halward. Leading the second squad was Duinhir, along with Menveru, Callon and Dervorin. Baranor, Hirbarad, Brand, and Baramir made up the third squad; Arodion, Findegil, Araglas, and Orogond the fourth. They were all men that he had learned to trust, and he knew that all of them would depend on each other over the course of the next few weeks.

A gust of wind brought the smell of fresh, spring grasses to Magorthaen’s nose. The fields they marched through were wet with dew from the previous nights’ frost, though the soldiers marching ahead of him had left nothing but damp dirt for him and his fellow soldiers to follow in. The green fields extended all around him, with colorful spots of wildflowers to break up the otherwise monotonous green. It would not last long, he knew. Not as long as it did at his home in Ossiras. The shadow of the mountain Thrihyrne, and the surrounding rivers of Isen and Adorn, made that a fertile land. The only lasting testament to the strength of the lands of Calenardhon was the forest that was still far north of them, Fangorn.

Reaching that landmark would be the first obstacle in their march. There they would have to cross the river Entwash, which would bring them to twisted lands of The Wold. But before crossing that they were expecting to meet with the rest of the forces of Calenardhon, men from Dunlostir, Aglarond, Lossir, Onodrith, and other towns and fortresses. Until their first campsite at dusk, it would be a long, boring and silent march. Almost overwhelming the smell of the lands around him was the sweat of the men, the dust from the recently created trail, and the leather of armor. The only sounds he could hear were pounding boots, shifting armor, and clanking swords and shields. Occasional coughs, whispers or outright laughs broke the relative silence. But those outbursts were often met with harsh rebukes from their respective cainenhîr.

Magorthaen watched as the sun crept from the eastern horizon until it was nearly overhead. At midday, they were given their first break. The precise organization of the Angrenost Guard dispersed into a slightly less organized field of small circles. For the first time since the beginning of their march that morning, Magorthaen got a glimpse of his tulkarim. They looked as bored as he had been, though a few of them looked as if they were smiling. Whether for their break or because of internal thoughts, Magorthaen wasn’t sure. He shifted his pack off of his back and began rifling through for his small lunch. Wordlessly, the rest of the men did the same. It wasn’t until a few mouthfuls had been swallowed that the first words were spoken.

“I wonder how many men will be waiting at the river,” Hirbarad mused. “I would love to see an actual army.” The ehtar sat with his wooden spear across his lap and his food in his hands. His helmet, like everyone else’s, was lying in the trampled grass at his side. His curly black hair was slick with sweat and plastered to his head. It was because of the curls that he kept it shorter than most other men.

“It will be nothing compared to our numbers when the Southern Army arrives,” Araglas said. “I’ve seen the might of Gondor. It dwarfs what we have here.” Magorthaen, and everyone else, knew that Araglas was from Ithilien. The man was certainly proud of the fact, and seemed to believe his proximity to the capitol of Gondor made him superior to those whose homes were in the farther reaches of the kingdom.

Orogon snorted derisively. “Everyone has seen the might of Gondor. Everyone knows the might of Gondor! Except for these barbarians from the east. And we don’t need to wait for the Southern Army to teach them that.” Orogond’s face was red and dripping beads of sweat. Despite being physically stronger than the rest of the tulkarim, Orogond always had trouble in the heat.

“Drink more water, Orogond,” Magorthaen interrupted. “We don’t need you passing out halfway to the river.” Orogond glared as several others laughed. Magorthaen felt a pang of regret; he hadn’t meant to belittle him. His biggest problem with leadership was approaching issues from the wrong angle. “That goes for the rest of you,” he said, hoping to correct his error. “Don’t make me check your skins.” The conversation lulled as sixteen water skins were upended.

Anglad leaned an elbow on the grass and thought aloud. “I wonder how long it will be before the fighting starts. If we have to wait for reinforcements, would they have us train further in the meantime?” The idea looked to appeal to him, for he went on, wistful. “It might then feel more a part of us than merely an untrod reach of our homeland. I should like to spend time on the field before battle comes to it.”

Duinhir shook his head slowly, his long blond hair brushing against his armored shoulders. “We are supposed to join up before we cross the river. From what I’ve heard of The Wold, it’s far different on the northern side of the river. Besides, we don’t know that we won’t see fighting before then.” Duinhir being from Dor Rhúnen, Magorthaen suspected the soldier knew what he was talking about in terms of the geography. But he doubted they would see any combat before crossing. If those barbarians were smart, they would try and ambush them just after crossing. The Wold was indeed harsh terrain.

“Now there is a sight most men don’t expect when they sign up,” said Brand. He’d finished his food and was leaning back on his arms, one leg stretched out before him.

“The Sisters of Nienna,” said Callon, with his head and shoulders turned to follow Brand’s gaze. Magorthaen could see the smile forming on his face. The Sisters were a group of healers, spread across Gondor.

“I’m sure their order is being well-paid for following us around,” Magorthaen said. They were a sight to look at. He saw only four of them, walking close together and speaking in hushed tones. It was probably luck that they even saw them at all, with as big as the army was already. Being isolated at Angrenost left most men wanting in terms of relationships. Magorthaen couldn’t pull his eyes away from their swaying hips as they walked off. For some reason, Magorthaen was glad no one else saw his gaze linger; everyone else was doing the same.

The rest of their break passed by quickly and uneventfully. The march resumed, and boredom set in. Magorthaen found himself envisioning battles alongside the marching soldiers. He knew it was nothing to look forward to, but marching slowly toward it was not something he found himself looking forward to more than simply getting it over with. The faces of his tulkarim told him that most of them felt the same. Five full days of marching to reach the river, and only one half over. Magorthaen sighed deeply… and reminded himself that this was what he signed up for.

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Re: The Battle of Celebrant

Post by Kalon Ordona II on Mon Feb 20, 2012 3:45 am

Entwash. Spear in hand, Anglad stood near the riverbank, watching the sky rather than the land. The thick crescent of the waxing moon had the feel of a good omen just then--some symbol of hope that there would yet be light through the coming days of darkness.

"Never thought to find you lost in fancy upon the watch."

Anglad was startled from his thoughts; he hadn't expected activity from the direction of the camp. Outwardly, it might have appeared that Anglad had known someone was coming. "Halward," he greeted, without turning around. "Couldn't you sleep after so long a march?"
There was a short silence. Anglad somehow knew Halward was ruefully shaking his head. "We finally made it to the river. Who knows what we'll find on the other side?"
Anglad agreed but didn't much feel like talking yet.
"They say the Easterlings have had their eye on Gondor's northern lands for some generations. The Wainriders were driven back, of course, but now they come from Rhovanion."
Anglad nodded thoughtfully. "The Lonely Mountain is close by the eastern lands. I doubt not the men of Dale know much of their doings."
Halward humphed. "If only it were so."

Halward came forward to Anglad's left. The rush of the Entwash babbled a constant soliloquy on the virtues of fresh, new life, full of promise and plenty. Calenardhon joined its song, even during the night, but beyond...
"The Wold has been under a shadow for as long as anyone remembers," Anglad muttered sadly. "Now a deeper shadow comes to cover it."

This sapped the desire for conversation, and they stood thus in silence for several minutes, and Anglad again lifted his gaze to the stars. They were ever a comforting sight to him--a reminder of home and heart, as well as a presence that protected and guided and inspired. It made the world seem significant, that right and noble men were not the only force for good in the world.

After some time there was a third voice, and this time Anglad heard its footsteps before it spoke. "Halward? Since when do you stand the watch?"
Halward turned. "Couldn't sleep."
"Nerves? I suppose we'll be crossing tomorrow, with the North Army finally joined."
Anglad by now had recognized the voice as Baramir's. "I thought it was Darthion's turn next."
"He thought it an omen that our tulkarim was one of those picked for the watch tonight, with the army together, so he wanted to watch the early gloaming until sunrise. I offered to exchange places. It's all the same to me."

"How hard do you think they'll hit us?" Anglad asked, to neither and both of them.
"I rather thought we would hit them," said Baramir.
Anglad breathed a laugh. "I hadn't thought of it so. You're right, of course."
"You two should get some rest if you can."
"If I could sleep I would be," Halward muttered, but he followed when, a moment later, Anglad turned his face toward the camp and bid Baramir a good night.

The scent of crushed wildflowers and weeds wafted from their footfalls and mingled with the cool night air in their lungs. The air had been moist from the river, Anglad realized when they left it and the mud and dust of the army camp changed the flavor of the air. As they made their way to their tulkarim's tents, Halward walked thoughtfully. "We never got a chance to practice today," he said, putting it as the reason for his restlessness. They had spent a few hours each night after the march teaching each other the finer points of spearmanship and archery.
Anglad was apologetic. "We were picked tonight. The watch comes first."
"You don't have to tell me that. I was but thinking aloud."
Left unsaid was the kind of thing they had been talking about for days, that they didn't want to be unprepared when they went to battle. At least, they didn't want to commit their lives without knowing they had done everything they could to be ready.
"If you practice your spear further tonight," Anglad said, "try not to stay up much longer. We can't be a proper tulkarim if some of us are over tired."
Halward glanced back at the river as they reached the tents. "I doubt any of us will be tired during the crossing tomorrow, even if we had marched three days without sleep."

Anglad said nothing, but he had to agree.
Kalon Ordona II
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Re: The Battle of Celebrant

Post by Gadreille on Wed Apr 18, 2012 3:45 pm

“Elendyne. Huor. Finrod.” Aethylwyn gave a short bow to each as she recited their name and put their faces to memory. “Wildmen, you say? I might have said that I do not believe such a wild claim if I have not just witnessed it with mine own eyes!” She admitted. “The people of Greybarrow will be very thankful for your warning and for your offer of protection. If you will follow me, I will lead you to town. My father’s home is most comfortable, and you may rest knowing you are safe. My father will want to hear more information that you bring from your king.”

Elendyne allowed a grateful smile to cross her face as she nodded in acknowledgement of the young woman’s words. “Thank you for your hospitality, Aethylwyn.” The name took on an almost exotic sound when spoken in the musical, lilting tones of elf speech. “I carry a message penned by our king that should explain the situation,” she added, gesturing to where the scroll rested among her saddlebags. “Before I speak with your father, I must ask to see to my companions’ injuries. As elves, we heal quickly, but as a healer, I prefer to leave nothing to chance.” She did not mention her own injuries, but all three of them had sustained shallow cuts on their arms from the wildmen’s crude blades. While none of the injuries were life threatening, a healer’s compulsion to treat the wounded beat at Elendyne’s senses.

“Of course, Lady Elendyne,” Aethylwyn responded, and promptly turned Amras toward the direction of the bridge and beckoned the three elves to follow. She felt somewhat proud to take the lead and bring this troubling yet exciting news into Greybarrow. At first, she only felt a twinge of worry as to what might be happening to make the elf king extend the offering of an elven healer. It was the youth of excitement within her that blinded her from worry. However, as they crossed the bridge and began passing the homes of Greybarrow, the excitement of the night began to fade. As her neighbors ventured out in the early dawn of morning to begin their chores, they watched with wary eyes as Aethylwyn led the three toward her father’s farm. Aethylwyn started thinking more about what might be going on, just beyond the borders of her people, and wondered how bad it was. How close it might come to home.

The three elves kept their hoods over their heads as they rode through Greybarrow to avoid attracting too much attention from the villagers. Even so, Elendyne could feel their curious, watchful eyes tracking their movements. She wondered when elves had last set foot on these lands. Decades? Centuries? Her gaze instinctively wandered to her companions. Huor had moved his horse in front of hers to place her between the protective strength of himself and Finrod. She shook her head in good humor at his overprotective nature.

When they arrived, Aethylwyn dismounted and wrapped the reins around a post, beckoning the others to do the same. “I’ll tend to them after I get you inside,” She assured them as they dismounted from their horses.

“Thank you once again,” Elendyne responded. “I’m sure they will enjoy a good rest in a proper stable.” She tied Nessa’s reins to the post, patted mare’s neck fondly, and removed her satchel of herbs and medical supplies before joining the others.

Aethylwyn gave a courteous knock and then opened the door. “Helmwyn? Father? Are you here?”

“In the kitchen!” she heard her sister reply, and Aethylwyn held the door open to let the three elves inside to the great room, where there were still embers glowing from last night’s fire. Their great room was rather small, the fireplace in the center along the wall, with a large dining table to the left, and rug on the floor near the fireplace, and a few chairs toward the right. Aethylwyn began to stoke the embers when Finrod gently took the poker from her hand.

“There is a lot of work to do, but you need not do it alone,” the blonde elf said, giving her a little wink.

“Manners, Finrod,” Huor chided with a hint of humor, switching to elvish to keep their words private. Finrod had the good grace to blush as he chuckled and returned his attention to coaxing the fire back to life.

Aethylwyn muttered a thank you and retreated to the kitchen, where safe behind the doors she allowed herself to blush. Immediately Helmwyn was standing a mere pace away from Aethylwyn, staring her in the face.

“What on earth happened to you?” she shouted. Aethylwyn looked down, noticing for the first time how filthy she was, and the small scrape on her left arm. She brushed off her sister.

“There were wildmen,” She heard her sister gasp but didn’t not halt her conversation, “attacking three elves. The elves are in the great room now, and I need to get them some water.” There was a second fire in the kitchen, a large one for roasting meat and boiling soup. Aethylwyn had begun searching for their kettle when Helmwyn pulled one off of the fire.

“I’ll take it to them,” she said, with only a slight waver of nervousness in her voice. Helmwyn was so young, but took over duties almost faster than she was handed them, just as Aethylwyn had. She truly had Mother’s spirit. “And I’ll make sure we have enough for everyone to eat breakfast. Now go get father,” Helmwyn ordered Aethylwyn. “And clean yourself up too, sister.”

Aethylwyn smiled. “Just after I tend to the horses,” she promised.

Helmwyn stifled a gasp as she walked into the great room to find the three elves waiting patiently, staring at the beginnings of a fire. Helmwyn did her best to curtsy while holding a boiling kettle of water in one hand and a large bowl in another. “Gentlemen, My Lady. I’m Helmwyn, daughter of Léohelm.”

She then placed the bowl on the table and poured the water into it before placing the kettle on the hook in the great room fireplace, to keep it warm.

Elendyne gratefully accepted the bowl of warm water. “Thank you, Helmwyn. I am Elendyne, and this is Huor and Finrod.” Both male elves gave small bows as they were introduced. With that, Elendyne beckoned Huor to follow her to the table and chairs. He sat patiently as she laid out a mix of herbs from her satchel, ground them up with a mortar and pestle, and sprinkled them on top of the water. She stirred the concoction with her finger, allowing the pleasing aromas to fill the room. The herbs would help prevent any infection and speed up the healing. Sitting in the chair in front of him, she gently removed the leather gauntlets from Huor’s forearms to better inspect his injuries.

“If there is anything you need, please help yourself to it. The kitchen is just over there if you need me. I’ll make us a meal.” The elves thanked Helmwyn for her courtesy, and Helmwyn gratefully removed herself from the room before the smell of blood overwhelmed her. One thing Helmwyn wasn’t was a warrior. She flew back to the kitchen, leaning against the wall a moment while she gathered her senses.

“Pardon me.” Helmwyn heard a voice behind her and shrieked. It was one of the elves, Finrod. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to frighten you. May I help you in here?”

“Oh, ah, yes. Of course. Why don’t you…here, cut these.” She handed him some potatoes and a knife, took a breath to calm herself, and set to work in the kitchen while Aethylwyn stabled the horses and Elendyne tended Huor in the great room.

“These wildmen were quite skilled with the blade,” Elendyne remarked. The gauntlets had protected Huor’s arms from any serious injuries, but the crude blades had still managed to score him near the elbows and the more vulnerable undersides of his forearms. Shallow wounds like that looked worse than they were only because they tended to bleed more, but they had already started to mend thanks to the elf’s natural ability to heal quickly. Elendyne took a clean cloth and washed the dirt and dried blood from the cuts and then ground up a poultice of herbs to place over the deepest cut, speaking softly in Quenya to encourage the healing.

As Elendyne wrapped the cuts in clean bandages, she looked up to see Huor watching her intently. As her eyes met his, she noticed that his cobalt blue eyes did not hold their usual mask of stoicism but instead had softened with a mix of gratitude and concern. “You should see to your own wounds now.”

“But Finrod…”

“…is currently occupied,”
Huor interjected, nodding to where the blonde elf had disappeared beyond the kitchen door to help Helmwyn. Elendyne knew she would not win the argument, so she removed her gauntlets and cleaned the few cuts on her arms while Huor watched. She knew why he was so insistent. She had come to harm, however minor, while under his protection, and his fierce warrior’s honor demanded that he see her properly treated. He only let her take care of him first because it would cause her more pain as a healer to not treat him. When she reached for the bandages, he gently took them from her hands and wrapped her cuts himself.

“Hannon le,” she said softly as her face reddened slightly, to which the dark-haired elf simply nodded. Only once Huor was satisfied with his work did he call Finrod over from the kitchen for Elendyne to tend to him. His cuts weren’t as serious since he had been fighting mostly at a distance with his bow, so Elendyne treated him quickly.

Aethylwyn had taken all of the saddles and reins off the horses, brushed them down, and given them food and water. She did it quickly yet efficiently, for a mount who was not cared for and loved was a terrible thing among the Eothéod. She noticed a few minor wounds and reminded herself to have the Lady Healer take a look at them. Still, she cleaned them as best she knew how before finally leaving the horses to rest.

Aethylwyn took a look at herself in the trough and removed her helmet and armor. She splashed water on her face and then removed her tunic to rinse the sweat of battle off her body. It was not a true bath but would have to do for now. She then replaced her shirt, which still clung wet in the morning chill, and reentered the house, trying not to shiver.

She found Elendyne finishing bandaging Finrod’s injuries while Huor stood behind her chair, ever watchful. “If you don’t mind, I will wake my father now,” she said to the Lady Elf.

Elendyne stood from her chair and gracefully interjected, “Before you do, would you like for me to tend to your injuries? I can see that the wild men’s blades marked you as well.” She spread her hands in the universal sign of peace, showing that she meant the young woman no harm.

“Oh. Yes. Thank you,” Aethylwyn said, blushing slightly as the other two elves looked on to her. She felt embarrassed again for rushing the healer, who was very patient in contrast to herself. Aethylwyn was so anxious to hear the news, she didn’t think twice of her own injuries. It reminded her of when her father told her about heroes he had fought with that died from festered wounds, some nothing greater than the scrape on her own arm. There were always lessons to be learned.

Finrod stood and let Aethylwyn take his chair. Elendyne could easily sense the nervous tension radiating from the young woman and gave her a reassuring smile. She pulled out a few more herbs from her satchel and explained as she went, hoping to set her mind at ease through conversation. “We healers learn to use the gifts of the earth to treat all manner of ailments. Herbs for cleaning the wounds,” she indicated the first pile of herbs, “for promoting healing,” she gestured to the next, “and for stealing away pain.” She refilled the bowl with warm water and added more herbs. She also included a sprig of lavender, which Lord Elrond had said had a calming effect on humans.

“May I see your injuries?” Elendyne asked as she stirred the concoction. She examined the few scrapes and cuts and was pleased to see that none of them looked serious. “Do not worry. They should heal quickly.” She dipped a cloth in the herbal water and gently cleaned the wounds before mixing up another poultice and applying it to the deepest scrape near Aethylwyn’s elbow. Humans could not fight off infection as easily as elves, so she made the poultice stronger than the one she had used for Huor. “Sometimes speaking in Quenya, the ancient elvish tongue, encourages the healing,” Elendyne explained before chanting softly in the otherworldly tongue.

Huor and Finrod stood at a respectable distance to give the two women a measure of privacy. The elder elf noticed a look of disapproval on Finrod’s face. “Speak your peace, brother,” Huor said.

Finrod crossed his arms over his chest and glanced sideways at Huor. “So young. They would only be counted as infants to our people, yet they already carry the burdens of war.” Huor followed Finrod’s gaze to where it lingered on the wounds on Aethylwyn’s arm. “Do humans make a habit of sending their women into battle?”

Huor rested a hand on Finrod’s shoulder briefly in understanding. The younger elf had never left Mirkwood until now and so had no experience with humans. “Their lives are a mere flicker in time to us, and their ways are not ours. Have patience, my friend. We will find answers soon enough.”

Aethylwyn tried to concentrate on the healer’s actions and words. Her elvish speech was soothing and brought pleasant feelings to Aethylwyn. However, she couldn’t help but wonder what the other two elves were saying. They watched her and spoke as well, but it was not a healing chant. Rather, it was conversation. She felt as though their eyes were piercing her soul…but she was not brave enough to ask what they were saying. Somehow it felt rude to question what was spoken in another language. It was as if it was not meant for her ears.

“I am finished now, Aethylwyn,” Elendyne said, and stepped back to let Aethylwyn stand up. Aethylwyn was surprised how much better her wounds felt. The sting of freshly cut skin was gone, and the shine of newly staunched blood was already slowly replacing with the dull, darker scab that would protect her from sickness. She was very grateful, and said so. What a wondrous skill, and very useful in times of war. This thought reminded her that there was business to attend to.

Just then Helmwyn walked in with a stack of dishes and said, “Breakfast is ready! Oh…where’s Papa?” Helmwyn locked eyes with Aethylwyn.

“I was just on my way to go get him,” Aethylwyn promised her baby sister.

“I’m sorry Helmwyn, I’m afraid I deterred her from her task. Forgive me.” Elendyne said with a smile.

Helmwyn let out a nervous laugh. “It’s fine, no trouble. I just need Papa to eat, is all.”

“Of course. I’m going right now,” Aethylwyn said, and took off down the hall. The next room was Helmwyn’s room, and the one across from that was Aethylwyn’s, though she was rarely in it. The last and biggest of the sleeping quarters was her father’s room, and she knocked twice on the closed door. No one answered.

Inside the room was still dark, and somewhat cold as the window faced to the north and its shutters were tightly bound. He was still in bed, still sleeping, his snore a quiet reminder that he was still breathing. She came to his bedside and stirred him awake.

“Oh, past dawn already? I find I just don’t sleep as well at night as I used to!” He said groggily as he struggled to set himself up.

“Father, I have much to tell you. I met three elves who were fighting wildmen last night and –“ her father cut her off.

“Wait, wildmen? Elves? Hold on, dearest, go back and recount everything.” She did so as she brought him fresh clothes and turned away while he dressed himself. She brought him his crutch, and she had just finished telling him her story when he was standing and ready to go to the great room.

“I wanted to tell you, Father, not just because you are my father, but because of your status as infród,” Aethylwyn finished. “It seemed you were the proper person to tell.”

“Yes, Aethylwyn. Never forget, a warrior’s duty does not end, not even when he mounts his weapon,” he involuntarily glanced at the sword which hung neatly on a rack in his room. “Now, let us meet these guests, and read this Kingly letter.”

Aethylwyn helped her father enter the great room, where everyone exchanged introductions. The elves stood at attention as Léohelm entered the room and gave him the warrior’s bow of respect, with their right arms held over their hearts. Realization dawned on them as they noted the older man’s crutch, though they kept the surprise off their face. With the man of the house unable to fight and no sons, it only made sense now that Aethylwyn had taken up her father’s mantle. Elendyne understood all too well the pain of seeing her father incapacitated in such a manner and respected Aethylwyn’s valor even more.

Helmwyn had filled everyone’s plate with a scramble of meat, eggs, potatoes, tomatoes and assorted vegetables. Aethylwyn didn’t know much about cooking, but she did know that when there were many mouths to feed, the best thing to do is to mix everything together. Whether a soup or solid dish, it seemed that the food reached further that way.

They ate with pleasant conversation, discussing trivial or personal things, rather than the controversial topic that was ahead of them. It gave everyone a chance to become acquainted with each other not just in name, but in demeanor as well. It was always important, her father had said, to get to know a person for who they are, and not what their title deemed them to be.

After breakfast, Aethylwyn helped Helmwyn clear the dishes, both of them declining any help from their guests. It wasn’t propriety as much as they each saw in their father’s eye that he was ready for business. No sooner than the last plate had been removed they heard their father say “Let’s have this letter then.”

“My lord,” Elendyne acknowledged with a nod as she removed the metal tubing from her satchel and carefully removed the letter. She passed it across the table to Léohelm and explained, “My people have fought the Shadow for many centuries, and our scouts on the borders of Mirkwood have been tracking the movements of orcs, Easterlings, and wildmen. The wildmen have grown too bold as of late and have recently begun crossing the river Anduin, heading for Gondor. If Gondor falls, our king, Lord Thranduil, believes they may set their sights on the horsemen’s lands or Mirkwood. We alone do not have the warriors to spare for a full-out war and still protect our people from the fell creatures that haunt the forests. Your village was closest to our borders, so Lord Thranduil sent us as messengers to bring this report and offer aid.” She gestured to the letter. “You will find more detailed reports of the wildmen’s movements and the threats our respective lands face in the letter.”

Léohelm looked over the letter. The entire room was quiet as he scanned over the penmanship of Lord Thranduil. Aethylwyn held her breath as she watched her father’s eyes scan across the page. He showed no sign of emotion, no hint as to what he was thinking or what he would say next.

After an agonizing couple of minutes, he finally looked up from the letter, folding the parchment neatly before handing it back to Elendyne. He met her eyes when he said, “My apologies, but I and my people are not who this letter was meant for. We have no business with the south.”

Elendyne was about to speak when Aethylwyn interrupted. “Father, you have a duty to bring this information to the council, to see if –“

Leéohelm’s voice boomed. “My duty is to protect my people through my decision making. It is made.” The room rang in silence, only the crackling of the fire interrupting the sudden quiet. He turned from his daughter, whose head was lowered in submission, and looked to the three elves again. “You may rest here for another night. Then I suggest you head south, where your services will be needed.”
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Re: The Battle of Celebrant

Post by Guest on Tue May 29, 2012 7:43 pm

Magorthaen watched as the ranks of Gondorian soldiers plunged themselves into the icy water of the Entwash. The sun was just rising in the east, barely far enough to their right side so as to not be directly in their eyes as they made their way across the dangerous river. The previous night had been uneventful, thankfully. His tulkarim had been chosen for watch that night, and Magorthaen had had a sinking feeling in his gut. Every man worth his sword knew that river crossings were prime times for an ambush. They had no idea how far away this easterling horde was; for all they knew their enemy could be laying in wait over the low hills just beyond the river. But the night had passed peacefully, and Magorthaen had drawn a deep breath of relief as he awoke that morning.

Now he was anxious again, because the Entwash was filled with waters from the melting mountain snows. It was cold, it was deep, and it was flowing swiftly. It would be dangerous and every soldier would have to have their wits about them if they hoped to make it across alive. Magorthaen’s tulkarim would be up soon, and he wasn’t sure he was ready for it himself. The cavalry was crossing on their left, the soldiers sitting atop their horses as their beasts made their way slowly through the water. The foot-soldiers were next to them, crossing in water up to their chests, using a rope attached to the far bank to pull themselves across the swift undercurrent.

Anglad, standing in rank just behind Magorthaen, was typically quiet. But the cainenhîr could hear the subdued voices of some of the others. He knew that most of them would be as nervous as he was. But others, like Orogond and Narumir, were probably relishing in this experience. Orogond he could expect it from, but Narumir’s grin this morning as they were lining up had Magorthaen completely baffled. He finally reached the stout post with the rope, and, like the soldiers before him, he grabbed the rope tightly with both hands. Turmahîr Hammar was not letting anyone within ten steps of the Entwash if he didn’t think they were gripping the rope tight enough.

“Be ready,” Magorthaen yelled over his shoulder to his men. “And follow my lead.” The rope was surprisingly hard to grip in his gauntlets. He wasn’t surprised at Hammar’s stern attitude. He could imagine the swift undercurrent of the river tearing him away from the rope despite his best efforts. Who knew how far he would be carried down river, weighed down by his armor, weapons and marching supplies. He did know he wouldn’t survive it. If they suffered an ambush here, the results could be devastating on their army. On the war as a whole; the Southern Army was depending on the Northern Army to bolster their forces, and to keep the horde from penetrating any further into Gondor. Magorthaen could see his own slip causing man after man to tumble after him, leaving the river further down filled with the bloated corpses of a ruined army…

Cainenhîr,” Anglad said behind him. Magorthaen shook himself free from his thoughts and continued walking. He hadn’t even realized he stopped. If anyone other than Anglad had seen that moment of hesitation… But no, it didn’t matter. Unless he was killed, this was war. They would follow him no matter what. The other three men of his row were to his right, each gripping a rope attached to a post. They were crossing in lines of four, one tulkarim after another. It was certainly more organized than the cavalry crossing, but it was also more dangerous for them than the horses.

Hammar nodded to Magorthaen as he approached the bank of the river. The tulkarim ahead of him had fully entered the water, and now it was their turn. He took a deep breath, and then forced himself into the water. At first he could not feel the icy chill. But as the water level rose above his boots, he felt it very keenly. It took his breath away as the water reached his stomach, and then his chest. He gripped the rope as tight as he could, forcing his legs to move forward against the pull of the current and grip of the mud. It was harder than he had imagined it would be, and he had been imagining a pretty bad scenario. He looked to his right and counted all three men, Darthion, Narumir and Halward. He knew the other squad leaders would let him know if one of them faltered.

Last edited by Ysopet on Thu Dec 20, 2012 4:04 pm; edited 1 time in total


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Re: The Battle of Celebrant

Post by Blackrock on Wed Aug 08, 2012 11:58 am

Helmgar was carefully honing his sword, propped on his knee, while he himself was seated on a simple wooden chair outside his house. His usual frown was engraved on his features, but a more careful observation would have noted that it was harder than usual – he was deep in some unpleasant thought. Two days had passed since he and his brother had visited the river to see if it would flood the surrounding lands, two days since they slept under the stars and talked of old, dusty matters. Léohelm had concentrated on the very same tale Helmgar had told his son on the same day – of that otherwise long-forgotten raid on Greybarrow. They spot in the forest that they had chosen had not been that far away from the place where the orcs had camped, his brother claimed.

Perhaps that was why he found himself with this sword in his hands today; despite what his appearance suggested he was not a violent man and he disliked holding that deadly thing. And yet here he was sharpening it – for what? What is those old tales and memories of a seemingly distant youth that made him remember it? Or was it Léohelm’s warning of great matters approaching? It was hard to say, but he was certainly surprised when he found himself holding it, for he had not taken it out of its scabbard in more than a year.

Life went on, however, no matter what one Man thought or dreaded. Yesterday, after seeing Léohelm back home to his daughters and going through a bit of talking to for disappearing like that, he went to visit some of the men in Greybarrow and see what they could do about those dikes. They would already be there by the Greylin, he thought, working quickly and efficiently – but it was still tiring work and he would join them along with Léofric, so the labour went quicker. Perhaps, if all went well, they could be done today.

As if that had helped him reach a decision, Helmgar spared a last glance for the well-polished blade and he put it away in its scabbard, more than willing to exchange it for a pick or a shovel. He put it up back on its wall-hanging in the house and told Léofric to help his mother pack tools and supplies, while he went to visit his brother to inform him of what was happening.

Nothing of note occurred on the road to Léohelm’s house, Helmgar’s mount was well-trained and it picked its way through the many paths dotting the fields with ease, while its rider’s mind was occupied with other concerns. The dikes, of course, were important – but it remained a mundane task that both he and the men of Greybarrow had done many times in their lives. His night out in the woods with his brother was worthy of note too, if nothing else than for the memories it evoked, but somehow that was not what occupied his mind entirely. Frowning and the horizon, he dug deeper until he found what was gnawing at him.

When he did, his grim features turned into an abrupt smile and a laugh followed almost immediately – it would have startled many men, but Helmgar most of all. It was not that he saw no joy in life, far from it: he had an honourable wife and good children, bountiful fields and quality stock of horses, a wise and steadfast brother – what more could he ask for? But he was not given into cheery moods, preferring instead to meet life’s joys and sorrows with the same, serious determination.

Yet he did laugh and it was because he came to understand what troubled him so- a dream he had had last night. Normally, he dismissed such things, such matters were left to the Wise, such as his father and brother, his mind preferred to focus on things he could touch and see. And yet...for the dream to have such an effect on him it must be something important. Helmgar’s brow furrowed as he tried to recall the details, murky as they were.

A rider surveyed a mass of darkness before him, his green cloak flapping in the wind, his steed anxious to charge. It was hard to tell who he was, rider or some hidden observer, but he was both there and not there. Watching and being. The rider brought a horn to his lips and blew...a mighty sound cascaded through the darkness, as if threatening to wash it away. But the rider did not charge at once, he looked back and then...

...then he
was the rider and saw from his eyes. An outstretched hand held a horn...THE horn? It was hard to tell if the horn was the same or if the rider was the same. The offering was received by a slimmer hand, like that of a child. And then...

Then the mist of dreams clouded what may or may not have happened. Helmgar struggled to recall anything more, but even the details he remembered moments ago were growing dimmer and dimmer with each step his horse took. Perhaps Léohelm might shed some insight? He was knowledgeable of such things, though he would probably dismiss it with a laugh. Have your wits left you brother that you now fret over dreams? He could almost hear his voice.

Shaking his head, Helmgar rode on, clearing his head and focusing on what he must discuss with his brother, though truth be told it was not much. Whatever the pretence, Helmgar realised that Léohelm wanted to very much still be part of the community he loved so much, with his maimed leg he could not be among the men digging at the river, but through Helmgar’s words he could be with them. He would say nothing if his brother decided to visit him after they had finished, but he would feel useless deep down; Helmgar did not need to be a sage to see as much.

In front of Léohelm’s house, Helmgar dismounted and looked around. He anticipated finding one of his brother’s daughters out and about, but it seemed they were still indoors. Normally he wouldn’t hesitate entering on his own accord, his house was always open to kin – day or night – as was Léohelm’s, but Helmgar noticed a few more horses than usual stabled near the house. In fact, when he took a closer look, he failed to recognise what stock they were from – certainly none of the local one. Visitors from abroad then? It was not uncommon for them to come to Léohelm first, he reasoned.

If the guests wanted privacy with Léohelm, Helmgar decided, he would pass on his message to one of his nieces, but he could not afford to waste anymore time, the sun was beginning its steady climb. So he went inside, heading for the common room. Once he arrived, however, he was greeted with a strange sight, to say the least.

Léohelm and his daughters were there, as were the three apparent guests, though they were not the guests he was expecting. Elves they seemed to be, the Elder race, but one had not set foot in the lands of the Eothéod since before his father’s time at the least. Unbidden, his brother’s words of changes coming floated through his mind, was this the first step?

There was nothing cheery about Léohelm’s mood either, he noticed, so the time of pleasantries had come and gone and his older sibling seemed to have already reached his decision, by the set of his jaw and eyes. Truly, Hemlgar could not have chosen a worse time to enter, for he did not know what words had passed between them and what stance he should now adopt.

“Greetings brother” he said mildly, inclining his head towards Léohelm “welcome, honoured guests” he told the strangers.

All the while a voice in his head asked – what comes now?

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Re: The Battle of Celebrant

Post by Kalon Ordona II on Thu Aug 30, 2012 3:15 am

This was it, their turn to cross the Entwash.
"Be ready," Magorthaen called to the rest of them, "and follow my lead."
Anglad nodded, even though Magorthaen couldn't see him, standing directly in front. Anglad kept a keen eye on the first row and the second, his own. He and Magorthaen had discussed who should be in which row, and the two of them had set it up without having to tell the rest beforehand. The other three in Anglad's row were Callon, Menveru and Orogond, since it was decided those three would benefit most from a moderating presence: strength for Callon, focus for Menveru, and cooperation for Orogond. For the other two rows, they put Hirbarad and Duinhir with the inseparable Findegil and Araglas, and they put Baranor with the usual trio of Brand, Baramir and Arodion. Dervorin, who was best on his own, came behind the fourth row. Some tulkarim put their cainenhîr alone in front, but Magorthaen worked better when he could be close with his men. The two rows in the rear, after Dervorin, were purposefully made up of those in the tulkarim who were steady and reliable but would benefit from following the examples of those directly ahead of them. Those most reliable to set the example as vanguard were Darthion, Narumir, Halward, and of course Magorthaen.

Anglad gripped the rope tightly as they moved toward the waterline, watching for the moment when Hammar would commit their tulkarim into the river. Seeing other tulkarim make the crossing before gave Anglad weapons to use against the anxieties trying to rise up in his mind.
It would be too cold.
No, not to cold for them, not too cold for us.
It would be too swift, too deep.
No; there was no reason to think the river would suddenly change just to effect their deaths.
Anglad also kept a sturdy hold on his equipment, stayed mindful of his surroundings--the sky, the army, the river--and checked the state of the others close by. Callon was doing much the same, watching the others--probably more earnestly than he ought, but that was why Anglad was there to make up the difference. Menveru was staring intently at the rushing water, and Orogond was shifting his weight impatiently. Well enough, then. Anglad glanced back at Hammar; nothing yet. Anglad looked at the cainenhîr, just in time to notice a lapse in his movements. Was he waiting for something? If he hesitated, it might not look good. Magorthaen didn't need that appearance, even if he was waiting for something. Hurriedly, Anglad lowly prodded, "Cainenhîr..."

To Anglad's relief, Magorthaen resumed his walk, adjusting his footfalls so that he was back in step. Quickly Anglad glanced at Hammar. There it was; Hammar nodded at Magorthaen, and Anglad immediately returned his attention to the cainenhîr, making sure to maintain the proper distance from the row in front and behind.

Suddenly there was the water. Anglad heard and saw the first row wade in. Then the icy rush as his own foot hit the water. A deep breath, and it was not so bad. He gripped the rope even tighter, concentrated on his hand more than his feet, and just put one in front of the other. It wasn't a problem until the water level got up to his torso; then the struggle began, and Anglad had to set his teeth to stay focused against the chill. Surrounded by his moving companions, keeping in the proper place helped to provide a mark to hit. Anglad forced his mind into that channel and kept it there, and found he was able to spare a glance at his fellows. Good, Orogond was keeping exactly between Halward and Araglas. Menveru was breathing hard, staring at Narumir's back, maintaining a steady progress, but he suddenly faltered as if he'd slipped on something underfoot. Callon instantly reached to grab his arm, dropping some of his own equipment.

"It's all right!" Anglad immediately called out, forcing it to be true. Anglad first supported Callon's back as Callon pulled Menveru into place, then he used the pole of his spear, struggling against the water, with help from the four behind, to steer Callon's floating gear so that Callon could catch it up again. This with the water almost up to their chests, making it hard to breathe. "Keep going! Well done, keep going!"

"This is it," called Magorthaen, "keep your grip on the rope above all else!"

The water rose almost to their necks, making every step a battle against an unrelenting foe. In a way, it helped to be weighed down by armor and equipment, making it harder for the river to simply sweep them up into its currents. But that also made it harder to move at all. Each man's hold on the rope was everything at that moment. There could be no other thought. At last, step after hard-won step, they found themselves moving through water merely chest-high.

"We're not through yet," Magorthaen warned, but by his tone, he might as well have said they had won already, and Anglad knew his own determined grin was mirrored on each of the faces around him. They marched on, and by the time the water level had sunk to their legs, all the peril and all the worry of the crossing had been utterly forgotten. The ground was firm ahead, and the sky was bright.

Up from the riverbank, cold, wet and as exuberant and wickedly gleeful after such an ordeal as only youth could be, the tulkarim gathered with the rest of the northern army between the river and the hills to the northeast. Scouts had already been sent up into the hills to counter any advance force of the Balchoth. Right now the companions' main task was to get dry and make camp. The sun was higher now and a warm radiance against the chilling breeze on their soaked clothes. United by their small triumph and common need, the seventeen young men made short work of the myriad little tasks that added up to a very basic camp, a fire, and the start of a meal.
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Re: The Battle of Celebrant

Post by Guest on Tue Sep 18, 2012 7:44 pm

The fire seemed to shrink under the increasing glory of the moon. Magorthaen's armor sat in an orderly pile by his bedroll, along with all but the most necessary garments. While traveling to and fro on various errands across the camp, he had passed numerous fires surrounded by bare-assed men. It wasn't something he, or any others in his tulkarim, would become accustomed to, he was sure. His clothes may still be damp, but he wore them for a reason.

All of the members of his tulkarim sat around their fire, bunched into their typical groups. Magorthaen didn't try to stop it, since he knew that they couldn't all work together in perfect unision. They had formed specializations, in a sense, something that every good army needed. If it was good for the army, it was good for his tulkarim. Unlike most nights, however, they sat around the fire in uncomfortable silence. Magorthaen suspected it was their partial nudity... they had shared much during their time with the Guard, but they had retained their privacy. There was little of that here.

A snap in the fire made them all jump, and then sheepish smiles crept across their faces. Orogond laughed loudly in an attempt, Magorthaen thought, to cover for his guilt of his shyness. Magorthaen knew that in the coming weeks, they would be sharing much more than bare legs and chests around an open fire. Very likely, they would be sharing blood and tears. Yes... Magorthaen suspected even Orogond could shed tears. Far more unlikely was the enigmatic Dervorin, pretty much the only nut in his tulkarim that he had left to crack. If anything was going to drag him out of his shell, this war was it.

In the silence, Magorthaen and his companions were quick to notice the sudden buzz of activity near the northern edge of the camp. The battle-side... Magorthaen thought sourly. Could something have gone wrong already? Or had they been ordered to move during the night? Halward and Anglad were staring at him inquisitively.

"I'll go check it out," Magorthaen said with a sigh. He forced his legs to uncross and stretched them out, trying to rub the soreness out of his muscles. Crossing the river had been a lot more taxing than he had thought it could be. It didn't help that this was the fifth time he'd had to get up from the fire and cross the camp.

"I'll go with you," Anglad said, getting up as well. He moved far quicker than Magorthaen had, but he suspected that had more to do with eagerness than a lack of sore muscles.

"Halward," Magorthaen said, "keep these dirty brutes in line. We'll be back soon."

Halward nodded in acknowledgement. When Magorthaen and Anglad turned away and made their way toward the commotion, Magorthaen overhead Halward's half-hearted threat.
"If I see so much as one more moon tonight, I'll make sure your legs won't hold your weight!"
A chorus of laughs followed. Besides Orogond's forced laugh, they were the first of the night.

"What do you think is going on?" Anglad asked. "Are we moving?"

"I don't know," the cainenhîr said. "Could be, I suppose. We have been here for a while, and with the river at our backs..."

More and more people were moving toward the northern edge of the camp. More cainenhîr's, with or without their second-in-commands. Whispers were traded as they walked, possible causes for their advancement, or their retreat, or other far-fetched fears.

"Gear up!" came a loud call. Magorthaen knew immediately whose voice it was: Hammar. "Everyone, full battle gear immediately! This is not a drill!"

Magorthaen grabbed the arm of a cainenhîr running the other way. "What is going on?" he asked. He needed to know, to give some sort of reassurance to his men. He could not return empty-handed.

"Our scouts were attacked," the nameless cainenhîr said. "Two of them returned, though bloodied. They spoke of an ambush, but they couldn't give a number of the enemy."

"Then what good are they?" asked another man. "Isn't that the scouts job? To report on the enemy?"

"Get moving!" Hammar yelled, approaching them with a dangerous vigour, his sword and shield in hand. "The next bare ass I see won't be sitting until this war is over! Move those jelly-legs men! I thought I trained you better than that!"

The turmahîr's gravelly voice dwindled as Magorthaen and Anglad ran back to their fire.

"What is going on?" Callon asked. He was trying to mask his fear with objective concern, Magorthaen knew, but it was transparent. "Are we moving out already?"

"They attacked, didn't they?" Orogond asked. The barely contained excitement on his face was obviously not faked.

"Gear up," Magorthaen said while grabbing his own clothes. "I don't know if we are moving out or not, but Turmahîr Hammar gave his orders."

"Scouts were attacked," Anglad said while getting dressed. "They don't how large the ambush was, but only two returned."

"Only two?" Halward asked. "Out of six? What about the other scouting squads?"

"They are probably still out there," Magorthaen said. "Or they are dead. Either way, we need to be prepared. We don't know what is coming, and we are hardly ready for a major engagement." Magorthaen paused and took a deep breath. He knew he was usually short with his men. He did his best to gather the information they needed to know what was about to happen to them, yet he always failed to deliver it. Speeches were not his strong suit. Tonight was the night to make that change.

"Look... we all know what we came out here to face. Unfortunately, tonight we don't know what we are facing. All we know is that two scouts returned with news of an ambush. So, in lack of solid information, we prepare for the worst. Tonight could bring what we've all been waiting for, or perhaps dreading. Or... tonight could be nothing. But if we aren't ready for it, then this could be our last night alive. So lets focus, get our gear together, and be ready for our next orders."

A collective grunt of acknowledgement was all that accompanied the frenzied preparation. Magorthaen didn't know if he was expecting cheers for his effort or not, but he supposed it could have been worse.

A long nights march followed. Heavy-lidded men stumbled in their steps, trying their best to keep their proper formation and pace. Other soldiers were alive with energy, expecting the enemy to spring up from the ground around them, or to appear over the hills ahead of them. Magorthaen didn't know what to expect, or how to feel. The whole experience was still...foreign to him.

The army stopped where the scouts had been attacked. The cainenhîr's ran forward for news and orders, and then back to report to their tulkarim. Still no sign of the enemy. Tracks led everywhere, mostly ruined by the battle and then swift retreat of the enemy. They continued marching until they reached a large knoll. Those in command made their encampment on the top of the knoll, where they could keep an eye on the surrounding landscape, while the rest of the army made new fires around the base of it. It was a night wasted, Magorthaen thought sourly. Not that he had been hoping for battle, but they didn't even have news of the enemy. They had gained nothing, and lost a night of rest.

Last edited by Ysopet on Thu Dec 20, 2012 4:14 pm; edited 1 time in total


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Re: The Battle of Celebrant

Post by Silvan Arrow on Sat Dec 15, 2012 12:27 pm

Elendyne sat with quiet, reserved dignity, her face carefully neutral, as Léohelm perused the letter she had borne from King Thranduil. On her left, she could easily sense the nervous energy radiating from Finrod that the younger elf had not yet learned to quiet. On her right, Huor remained as impassive and duty-bound as ever, eyes constantly flicking around the room even though they were perfectly safe.

Finally, Léohelm met Elendyne’s gaze and carefully handed back the letter. “My apologies, but I and my people are not who this letter was meant for. We have no business with the south.” Elendyne opened her mouth to politely protest but held her peace while Aethylwyn and her father exchanged a brief clash of wills. When he met the elves’ eyes again, Aethylwyn’s defeated expression clearly indicated who had prevailed. “You may rest here for another night. Then I suggest you head south, where your services will be needed.”

Elendyne caught Finrod shift slightly, as if he were about to object, and laid a hand on his arm before he could speak. “Of course we would never ask you to put your people at risk,” Elendyne replied reassuringly. “Guarding one’s own borders is a priority that we know all too well,” she added, glancing at Huor and Finrod in turn. “We would be honored to accept your kind hospitality.”

Just then, the sound of the door opening drew the household’s attention, and Elendyne noticed Huor’s hand instinctively drift toward his sword hilt at the sound of footsteps. Another man walked into the main room, but the similarity of his facial features told Elendyne that he was kin to the family. “Greetings, brother,” he began, thus confirming the healer’s suspicions. Huor’s hand drifted back to his lap. “Welcome, honored guests.” Elendyne inclined her head politely in return before glancing towards Léohelm so he could make the proper introductions.

Léohelm looked from the guests to his brother, his face revealing a slight fluster. He had wanted to be done with this situation, but he knew that he owed his own brother an explanation for this strange event. The frustration came from the fact that by admitting that his brother deserved this knowledge, he was admitting that the council did. He could see it in his daughter’s eyes: they were saying I am right, father. And she was right. If he truly felt that these elves coming to him was no concern to him or his people, he should not have had any problem telling his brother they were a misguided group who had ventured to the wrong town. Yet, he knew that he would admit to his brother his own shame in wanting to turn them away. But how could he explain to Aethylwyn his reasons for this? How could he tell her of the warning of his heart, one that followed no logical path?

“Brother,” Léohelm started, the word slowly rolling from his mouth. “Meet the elves of Mirkwood. Elendyne, Finrod, and Huor.”

Helmgar nodded to them. “It is an honor, truly. We rarely have visitors of your kind here. I am Helmgar, Captain of the Greybarrow Éored. To what do we owe the pleasure of your visit?”

Elendyne paused and glanced to Léohelm, who quickly intervened. “I will be happy to explain, Helmgar. Aethylwyn. Please take our guests to the stables, and help care for their rides. Master elves, I will explain your situation to my brother in private council, if you would please.”

“Of course,” the lady elf nodded, and Aethlwyn and the three elves left the great room. Aethylwyn’s gaze met Helmgar, in her eyes he sensed a plea. He met her gaze, as if to tell her he would do what he could. It was the uncle in him that did so, but the captain knew that no such promises could be made. He needed to know more. Helmgar waited until everyone had left before crossing the room and sitting across his brother. There, in front of him, was a folded letter, its seal broken. Léohelm pushed forward the letter that lay there, staring into the fire as Helmgar’s eyes scanned the page.

“So you mean to do nothing, then?” Helmgar’s voice broke the silence.

Léohelm sighed. “Yes, that is what I mean to do. Perhaps the larger villages are mustering, but Greybarrow needs to have no part in this.”

"Perhaps….perhaps this trouble is no concern of ours, and yet -do you feel that this is the choice that Greybarrow would make for itself?”

Léohelm finally met his brother’s gaze. “No, brother. And that is why I do not want to share it. It has been many years since the men have been called away for war. Do you remember what happened?”

Helmgar closed his eyes. “Yes, I remember.”

“I lost my leg, which was of little consequence.” Helmgar flinched at that. To measure such a loss as inconsequential just showed how much larger his other loss was.

“And your wife,” Helmgar finished for him, opening his eyes to find his brother’s full of tears.

“Yes. If I had been here...If we had not been called away, I might have saved her. If I had died and not she, think of where my daughters would be? Léohild struggles for a normal life, but darkness follows her these days. My poor Helmwyn must care for her maimed father instead of starting a life of her own, and I can’t even demand that she stop, for I know I could not survive without her aid. And Aethylwyn…” Léohelm’s voice caught in his throat. “The only way to protect her is to protect all of the eothéod.”

“I will not stand against your decision,” Helmgar said, inclining his head. “But I fear that if this message bodes half as much ill as it says, word of it will reach ears more powerful than ours.”

“Pray it does not, Brother. I fear I could not survive another dark time.”


Aethylwyn led the three elves to the stables. While she had already made sure that the horses’ basic necessities were cared for, the eothéod had a far more complex relationship with their riding companions. There was much more to do for Amras before she could let herself lay down to sleep.

“There is but one spare room in the house, but the loft is spacious enough for all three of you, if you prefer to stay together.” Aethylwyn pointed to the ladder that led to the loft above the horses’ stables. She had spent many a night up there, especially when Amras was very young, and Aethylwyn was working on building their bond. At this point, it was set. Amras would do anything for her, and she him. Nowadays when she fell asleep in the loft, it was because she was too bone tired to walk back to the house, or too filthy to crawl into her own bed.

Elendyne shared a glance with Huor, and he nodded in confirmation to what she was thinking. “We would be perfectly happy to stay in the loft,” the healer assured her. “We prefer to sleep beneath the stars anyway. The shadows of Mirkwood have obscured our vision of them for many years.” She spared a quick look outside. Even though it was only morning, her expression already yearned for the evening.

Aethylwyn sat on the ground and began inspecting Amras’ hooves, cleaning out the dirt and making sure the shoes were intact. As she worked, the elves began unloading the saddles that had quite unceremoniously been dropped on the floor in Aethylwyn’s rush to care for them.

“I am sorry for that,” she nodded to the saddles, “and for Father. War fell out of his heart a long time ago. I cannot blame him…and yet I know that he is wrong.”

Elendyne left Huor and Finrod to continue sorting their gear and knelt next to the young woman, resting a hand on her shoulder. The human’s feelings of guilt beat at Elendyne’s senses, and she let her natural healer’s compassion show fully on her face. “You have no need to apologize, Aethylwyn. It is not our place to muster your kin to war. If your father wishes to keep his people out of the fighting, then we shall respect his wishes and carry our message elsewhere.”

While Huor finished carrying their bedrolls to the loft, Finrod joined the two women and held out his palm for Aethylwyn’s horse to sniff. After a few seconds, he gently stroked Amras’ muzzle and murmured quietly to him in elvish. “He is a beautiful horse, just as fine as the King’s mounts.” Still patting him, Finrod glanced down and met Aethylwyn’s gaze. “Do your kin specialize in mounted battle?”

Aethylwyn broke her concentration and met Finrod’s eyes. Though she felt nervous conversing with these strangers, she was not one to look at her feet while speaking.

“We are…and we are not, I suppose. We are a people of the horse. We have been great riders, and bred great horses for many, many generations. We always ride into war, yes, but I do as much of my training on foot as I do on Amras. Am I, or my people, better than any other warrior when on horseback? That is not for me to say. I think that maybe our horses understand us, and war, better than other horses in the world. When you put an entire army of these horses together, the ground trembles in its wake. But I’m just an average archer of the éoherë, and I can’t claim to be anything else.”

Finrod nodded to Aethylwyn and smiled gently. “Greatness can be found in many things, Aethylwyn.”

Aethylwyn blushed, but finished her work quickly, and in silence. She already wasted part of her morning sleep talking with father, but now she needed to shut her eyes. Herudred would be expecting her in the afternoon, and she needed to be rested for the hard work he would be expecting of her at the smithy. She bid the elves a good rest, and then went back into her home. She deftly avoided her father’s gaze as she found her way to her bedroom, and once she was there she promptly passed out on her bed.

The elves climbed into the loft after Aethylwyn departed. Their horses drowsed contentedly in their stalls underneath them, comforted by the scent of their riders and the security of a stable after so many days on the road. Once Aethylwyn was out of earshot, though, Finrod’s expression immediately turned sour. “I do not like this at all,” he hissed, switching his speech to Sindarin. “Léohelm is making a grave mistake.”

“Humans are proud beings, sometimes to a fault,”
Huor replied matter-of-factly. “If Léohelm wishes to keep his people out of the conflict, then no amount of council will change his mind.”

“If our scouts are correct, then conflict will come here whether Léohelm wishes it or not,”
Finrod countered. “How can we just leave and do nothing, knowing that an entire town will suffer from one human’s pride?” He glanced back towards the house and clenched his fist on his knee, and Elendyne could clearly sense his mix of concern and outrage.

“We will not abandon Greybarrow completely,” Elendyne stated firmly, regaining Finrod’s attention. “We will respect Léohelm’s wishes and head south at first light tomorrow. As soon as we have a chance and can ally with one of the armies, we will request a rider to deliver a message to Mirkwood. Hopefully the King can send a few troops here for their protection.” She glanced at her companions, but Huor did not object, and Finrod relaxed slightly. “For now, I suggest we honor this family’s hospitality. We have had a long night, and we should rest while Léohelm holds council.” Elendyne lay down gratefully on her bedroll while Finrod complied somewhat reluctantly. On her other side, Huor remained seated with his sword in his lap. Sitting up slightly, she laid a hand on his arm to get his attention. “Huor, we are safe here. You should rest.”

Huor’s expression softened slightly as he glanced momentarily at where her skin touched his. “I will keep watch for a short while.” It was his method of meeting her halfway, and Elendyne knew she would not dissuade him from his honor-bound duty. Bracketed between the protective strength of her companions, she let her eyes glaze over as her mind sought the refuge of her waking dreams.
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Re: The Battle of Celebrant

Post by Gadreille on Tue Dec 18, 2012 7:03 pm

Aethylwyn woke up quite suddenly from a nightmare, but she couldn’t remember what it was about. She had been riding Amras, and it had been late at night…she had been fighting wildmen. Her elbow ached from the phantom pain of getting hit with an enemy sword in her dream. How real it had been...

As Aethylwyn propped herself up, she began to dimly recall more details of the dream. Her standing watch alone, Éadmód having left her there...Why had he been in her dreams? He did not belong there. She recalled elves (how beautiful they had been!) fighting off wildmen…her riding to defend the elves as they fought the wildmen, and greatly outnumbered. She remembered the elves helping to heal her, and then, her father turning down their request for aid. The shame of knowing that he had rejected them at a time of need poured over her.

And then she realized…it was no dream. She was recalling the events of the night before. She leaned up and tried to examine her elbow. It had been wrapped nicely, but curiosity got the better of her and she delicately unwound the gentle fabric. The wound still hurt, but the cut was healing nicely. If she was careful not to break the wound open again, it would be fine. She rewrapped her arm carefully, though it didn't look quite as seamless as it had before.

Aethylwyn’s room had a small window, and she rose out of bed and stumbled to it, pushing open the shutters. She tracked the sun in the sky and realized it was well after midday. Herudred would be expecting her, and he was not one to wait. Aethylwyn hurried and dressed, ran out of her room straight past a startled Helmwyn, who called to her.

“Aethylwyn, you off without something to eat?” Helmwyn called. Dear Helmwyn. She would make a wonderful mother, Aethylwyn thought once again.

“I’ll be back in time for supper,” Aethylwyn promised.

Aethylwyn retrieved Amras as quietly as she could. The elves were still at rest, and she didn’t want to wake them. However, saddling a horse was not a quiet task, and she wasn’t surprised at all to notice one of the elves, Finrod his name was, was not in fact asleep at all. Her eyes met his as she glanced up at the loft.

She nodded to him in a rush, and he merely tilted his head to the side and continued his gaze. She left without a word. There was no time for conversation, and beside...she wasn't very good at conversation anyway. The elves still made her feel fluttery in her stomach. They were so strange, even if kind and brave and wonderful. She very much didn’t know what to say to them. Aethylwyn mounted Amras and rode away toward the blacksmith’s forge and stables.

“Aethylwyn, I thought you forgot to come,” bellowed Herudred. He was a kindly fellow, but he had a businessman’s mind. He did not forget what was owed to him…and Aethylwyn owed him two weeks worth of work.

“No, master Herudred, I overslept is all,” she replied, while wrapping Amras’ reigns to the post outside the forge. She rolled up her sleeves and splashed her face with some water. It was cool outside, but sweltering within. She didn't fail to notice that Herudred had noticed her injury. She expected him to question her, but instead, he turned away and plunged the red-hot sword into the water. Smithing didn't have time for small talk.

Herudred himself was slick with sweat. His skin was flushed red, in the face, but otherwise he didn’t seem bothered by the intense heat. His golden beard was kept short, and his hair pulled back into a tail much like a horses. Silver strands decorated his temples, though it was sometimes hard to tell. While he was younger than her father, he was still much older than she.

She set to work cleaning the stables, cleaning and sharpening old blades, fetching him tools, water, fuel for the fire, or whatever else he needed. She knew that Herudred didn’t really need the help…he had two sons, one of which was apprenticing to become blacksmith. She rarely worked alongside the sons, and it was never busy enough to need four bodies at work, but she'd seen them from time to time. The youngest was nearly old enough to become one of the éothéod, should he choose. She was just grateful that Herudred let her pay him in labor, especially when he didn't need it. She suspected that his wife had something to do with this act of generosity. She’d always been a caring woman, and Aethylwyn hadn’t failed to notice her small acts of kindness towards herself, and her sisters, now and again.

Aethylwyn worked for hours in silence. While Helmwyn always bothered Aethylwyn into conversation, Herudred was blissfully a man of few words. Aethylwyn worked long past dusk, only stopping once to eat an apple and some cheese that Herudred had offered her. Lucky for her, too, she hadn't eaten since the morning. Many people came into the forge, some looking for repairs, others searching for new items, and others still paying old debts. She didn’t interact with most of these customers, but couldn’t help but overhear one of them mention that they saw three strangers in the wee hours of the morning. Herudred arched an eyebrow and glanced at Aethylwyn, but she said nothing. She had reported to her father, who was a part of the council. He and Uncle would share that information as they saw fit. However, Herudred wasn't a stupid man, and she knew that he would put the pieces together soon enough. More and more of Herudred's clients began mentioning strange visitors, and Aethylwyn conceded that the elves must have at this point been out and about. It was no surprise to her that by the end of her shift, the entire town of Greybarrow knew about the elves’ presence. She wondered if anyone knew about the letter that had been brought with them. Had Uncle convinced Father to divulge that information? Aethylwyn wondered if she would see them again before they left on the morrow. She had thought she would get to see them at supper, but she had worked late into the evening. She was still on sentry duty, and…

She was late. She cringed at the thought that she would be breaking her promise to Helmwyn. Her sister had every right to worry over her. Aethylwyn's clothes had been fitting more loosely, and her eyes drooped with weariness. She thought about supper, and how angry Helmwyn would be for her missing it. Her stomach grumbled in compliance with that thought. However, she was the only one again, and after what happened last night, it was doubly important to keep watch over Greybarrow. One could never predict a wildman. She left Herudred's forge and rode to the bridge, weary, hungry, and curious as to whether she'd see the elves again. She hoped that her curiousity would be enough to keep her awake until dawn.
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Re: The Battle of Celebrant

Post by Guest on Thu Dec 27, 2012 4:58 am

26th of Súlìmë (March)

Magorthaen watched the sun rise as he ate his meager breakfast. He thought fondly of the food he had enjoyed in his hometown of Ossiras. Sunrises were different in the shadow of Thrihyrne, the westernmost peak of the White Mountains. Here, he could watch the sun as it slowly rose above the horizon; in the fields of Ossiras, between the rivers of Isen and Adorn, it was well past morning when the sun rose over the high peak of that mountain. But the light painted the clouds a myriad of beautiful colors, a sight that had not quite been matched since he crossed over the Isen.

"Where are your thoughts," asked Arodion. Magorthaen jumped at the sound of the voice; he had not heard anyone coming. He had walked a distance from their small encampment amidst the army for a few minutes of privacy.

"At home," Magorthaen said. "When I walked out of Ossiras, I knew that I would probably never return. And I didn't want to. I had set out to see the world, possibly to have tales told of me and my exploits. Funny how things change after you've set foot into the world and you no longer have the choice to go back."

"Even if you did," Arodion said, "you would not be the same."

"No, I suppose I would not be." Magorthaen wiped the crumbs of his breakfast from his hands and stood. He turned to face Arodion with a smile on his face. "What about you? Where is home, and when do you expect you shall return to it?"

Arodion smiled. "Home... I don't suppose I shall return either. Osgiliath is certainly not what it was in the past, and I don't suppose that it will improve any time soon. I grew up amidst the ruins of Gondor's youth. I never really dreamt about what was outside of the walls of Osgiliath; rather, I dreamt about what used to be within its walls. The Citadel of the Stars, and Bar Annabon with its many statues. My favorite were of the red elephants. On one of them was carved in runes: "Ingigunthis is the most beautiful of women. Redagais the Single-handed." I can remember my brother reading that to me as we explored that ruined palace, and it made me think of the people who had once lived there, who had known it as a home rather than a ruin. Most of the city lies underwater, and most of what is left is shattered and empty. Why should I return?"

Magorthaen had no response to the question, but he wasn't sure if Arodion really expected one. The young soldier simply shrugged his shoulders and pointed back toward their fire and tents. "That is home now, for me. I won't ever find a better one. Why, you might be thinking? Because this is the heart of Gondor, right now. This is where everything is happening, where the future of our cities is determined. I can be a part of that. Maybe I can prevent our own children from having to grow up in cities ruined by these barbarian hordes from the north."

"I suppose I can understand that," Magorthaen said. "It is certainly a worthy goal."

"Not one I expect anyone else to share," Arodion said with another smile. "It is simply what keeps me going. You must find your own motivation."

Magorthaen nodded, wondering what that could possibly be. Duty was all he had the past few years among the Angrenost Guard. It was all that was pulling him forward now. It was certainly unexpected when he realized that it wasn't enough. "Let us rouse the others. We will be marching soon."

Arodion sighed. "My feet and legs are still sore. We never got a break from crossing the Entwash, and I haven't had a full night of sleep in days."

Magorthaen patted Arodion's shoulder as he walked passed him. "Think of the children," he said, a grin splitting his face.

Arodion followed Magorthaen as they walked back to their fire. Using the stick they had used to poke the fire, Magorthaen whacked each of the small tents as he walked by them.

"Time to wake up," he shouted. "Eat, wash, and get dressed. The sun is rising! If you don't get up now, I'll ask Hammar to wake you!"

In under a minute, every member of his tulkarim was huddled as close as they could get to the fire, eating their breakfast. They washed with the water handed out by the Sisters of Nienna, the lay healers accompanying the army. Magorthaen donned his armor as he waited. He pulled on his brown leather boots that rose to his knees. He had kept them polished up until the crossing of the Entwash. Now they were covered in a thick layer of mud; he was certain that they would never look the same again. He pulled the chainmail down over his tunic, the only real protection he had aside from his shield and helmet. Over the mail he put the white vest bearing the standard of Agrenost. Amidst the Northern Army, it would be one of the few reminders of where he had come from. He was of the Angrenost Guard, but he was fighting for the Northern Army of Gondor. Then he put on the belt with the scabbards for both his lango and sigil, his shortsword and ceremonial dagger. Those he managed to keep in better condition than his boots. His pointed helmet and gloves were the last pieces, aside from his round leather shield, which he strapped to his back.

Magorthaen had taken his time, and by the time he finished the rest of the tulkarim was dressed and ready to march. Hammar's orders came shortly after. Magorthaen braced himself for another ten hours of marching through the low hills of the Wold. The sun's heat was no longer quite as comforting as it had been when its first rays peaked over the horizon that morning. Sweat clung to his forhead, armpits, and legs. He only half-listened to the chatter behind him as Darthion and Narumir spoke of the dreams from the previous night, something about a battle with the barbarians, and Narumir apparently became quite close with one of the Sisters. Halward laughed loudly at hearing that. He could hear the voices of the others behind, but he could not make out their words.

Every rocked hurt his foot as the marched across the uneven ground. His boots were wearing out, but he doubted they would get replacements. The shield on his back felt like an unnecessary weight. He wanted to hold it up to block the sun, but he knew his arm would not hold that weight for long. Two hours into the march, they got an unexpected rest. The scouts had returned, and they spoke with Hammar and Harnastin, as well as the two who had accompanied the Rheinhîr. Magorthaen was much too far away to see or hear anything, but the scouts were quite animated as they made their report. A sharp whistle brought him to his feet with a grunt.

"Anglad," he said, "keep them in line. And make sure they drink plenty of water." All of the cainenhîr's were running toward the leaders of the Northern Army: the turmahîr's of every fortress of Calenhardon, and Harnastin himself. It made quite a gathering, but Magorthaen had become accustomed to it. The same happened almost every time they stopped.

"The scouts have reported signs of our enemy," Harnastin said. Murmurs sprung out among the gathered cainenhîr's, but they were quickly silenced with glares from the turmahîr's. "They have taken over an ancient fortress a few miles north of here, nothing more than a few pillars poking from the ground. But they are a sizeable force. How they penetrated so far south so quickly is unknown, but we are sure it is only a relatively small detachment from the main horde. Rather than leave an enemy behind us, we will advance on them and kill them to the last man. This will be the first battle of the war, soldiers. Let us make Gondor proud."

Magorthaen ran back to his tulkarim with his heart beating in his chest. The first battle was coming up. This wasn't like a report of dead scouts, with an enemy that couldn't be found. The barbarians were waiting for them. They would get a taste of what these invaders could do. Every man of his tulkarim was awaiting the news with wide eyes. Magorthaen took a deep breath and prepared himself for the necessary speech.

"Battle..." He suddenly found himself at a loss for words.

"Battle?" Halward asked?

Orogond jumped to his feet. "When? I'm ready!"

"They are waiting in an old ruin a few miles ahead," Magorthaen managed to say. He wondered if he would ever not choke up around his own men. His heart was starting to hammer even harder in his chest. "Harnastin has ordered us to attack."

"How many?" asked Duinhir. The others nodded and repeated the question.

"I don't know," Magorthaen said. "The scouts said it was only a small detachment from the main horde, but Harnastin claimed this would be the first battle of the war. And he said himself that they were a sizeable force."

"Well, what are we waiting for?" Orogond asked. He was looking around like the barbarians might descend on them at any moment. Not for the first time, Magorthaen feared that he was far too eager for his own good.

"Orders, Orogond," Magorthaen said. "Unless you want to run ahead." Orogond finally settled down, nodded his head ruefully.

The orders came in a few short minutes, barely enough time for Magorthaen to ensure that everyone had taken another drink of water. His hands were shaking as he took a drink from his own waterskin. He looked around the army as it reorganized itself, suddenly seeing it entirely different than he had before. He now felt out of place, as if he were watching it from the outside. He felt as if he did not belong, as if he were inadequate. How could he fight a war? Among mighty Gondorians of legend? How could he possibly be one of them? A sharp taste in his mouth warned him to calm down before he spilled his breakfast in front of everyone. He took a deep breath and silently reminded himself that this was what he had trained for. His tulkarim would be at his side every step of the way, and he was responsible for them. He would do what he needed to do. But that did not mean he couldn't allow a healthy degree of fear...

The two-hour march to the location of the invaders felt twice as long as the two-hour march they had already done. His feet felt more sore, and his equipment heavier. But he steeled his mind to the battle ahead. He had men, friends, to look out for. This time, everyone was silent. There were no conversations around him, no banter or laughter. The only sound was the rythmic step of a few thousand boots.

Magorthaen's breath caught when he caught his first glimpse of the ruined fortress ahead. Harnastin was not exaggerating when he had said it was little more than a few pillars sticking out of the ground. Broken towers ringed a central building, though neither the towers nor the fort itself had a roof. A pile of rubble circled all of it, indicating where a wall had once been. No army had set foot here in centuries, but that was about to change. The line of soldiers extending far ahead of him, but as they started to fan out to the sides, Magorthaen got a better view of the ancient fortress. He could see the outlines of the barbarians that held it. They were little more than indistinguishable shapes in the distance, but he felt that they were too close already. He glanced to the sky to search for arrows despite the fact that his head told him with certainty that no arrow could be shot that far.

When his tulkarim reached the line, he took them to the right to their designated spot. They were between the middle of the line and the far right side, protected on both sides by veteran soldiers. On the far right was the cavalry. The turmahîr's walked up and down the line, ensuring that they were seen by their soldiers and ensuring that their soldiers were ready for what was coming.

Harnastin suddenly appeared astride a horse, riding from the far right to the left. "This is what we came here for, men!" he called out. "Let us give these barbarians a taste of Gondorian steel! Let this mark the boundary of the farthest south they will ever come! Let this first battle set the course of the war!" A cheer rose among every man of the line. Magorthaen found himself cheering as well, though it was mostly to occupy his mind from things other than puking. He was shaking so bad that his teeth were clattering, and he wasn't sure what good he would be with his sword. The Rheinhîr turned toward the enemy and raised his sword above his head; and when he pointed it forward, the entire line moved.

Like the practice drills they had done in training before they moved northward to join the army, they marched slowly toward their enemy. But this time, there was no identical line marching toward them. This time, the enemy was entrenched behind bricks, guarded by archers, and possibly hiding a cavalry of their own.

His eyes were automatically pulled to the sky when he saw the small black lines of arrows. "Shields!" Hammar called to the Angrenost Guard. The order was repeated down the line by every turmahîr. Magorthaen had his shield up in a second, and he crouched down to a low guard as he had been taught. No arrows thunked into his shield, or anywhere near him and his tulkarim from the sound of it. They stood again and resumed their forward march. The cavalry raced foward, moving around the fortress to flank the enemy. Magorthaen was trying to split his attention between everything that was going on, but he quickly found that too overwhelming. The cavalry was no concern of his. Only the arrows that were descending from the sky. Again Magorthaen crouched and raised his shield. Only a single arrow slammed into his shield, but the impact was far greater than he imagined it would be. He felt it in his arm, though the head of the arrow was imbedded in the wood of the shield. Again he stood, and again he marched.

With an indecipherable call from the Rheinhîr, the army surged forward, charging at their enemy. Magorthaen did his best to keep pace with those around him, but he felt as if he was being pushed from behind. He drew his sword as he ran, holding it ahead of him like he had been trained. In moments he was crossing over the rubble of the wall, using the hilt of his sword as a balance as he clambered over the heap of shattered bricks. Once he was on the far side, everything seemed to be moving in slow motion. A barbarian stood before him, though he looked nothing at all like Magorthaen had been expecting. The man was covered in strips of leather armor, dyed gold and red, and a cloth wrapped around his mouth and head left only his eyes exposed. Though he wore no helmet, he carried a thick wooden shield and a sword. Magorthaen's muscles seemed to move of their own accord as his training kicked in. He raised his shield to block the downward blow, pushing the blade to the side as it impacted. He thrust his own sword in, aiming for the man's chest, but was in turn blocked by the barbarian's shield. Thrust, parry, thrust, parry; it seemed to go on forever, though he knew it could not have been more than a few moments. Suddenly Arodion was there, and Araglas and Findegil, and the barbarian was overwhelmed. Araglas scored the kill, and a spray of blood across his white vest was his trophy.

Magorthaen noticed the look of shock in Araglas's eyes, but the young man had no time to pause. Already there were more enemies, pouring out of the fortress in streams. Reverting to their training, they pulled themselves together in a line, each soldier protecting the man to his left. But the training could not prepare them for the chaos of this battle. There was no organization to the advancement of the barbarians, not like there had been in their training. They came at them in pairs, in large groups, or even alone. Moments of fierce battle were separated by agonizing periods of waiting for the next enemy to come at them.

Without realizing they had even been moving forward, Magorthaen saw that they were at the walls of the fortress. Arches in the wall gave access to the interior. Arrows rained down at them from the stairways, and Magorthaen raised his shield instinctively. He heard cries of pain around him as soldiers were struck down. Two more arrows were added to his own shield.

"Forward!" yelled Hammar, as ran passed Magorthaen. "Strike them down!" Now was the time to charge, in the few precious seconds they had before the archers could draw another arrow. Archers of their own took shots at the barbarians on the stairs, and they fell into the swarming mass of armored men. With nowhere to flee, the remaining archers could only fire again. But it was to little effect. Despite a few Gondorian's dropping to the ground, the archers were run down. Blood sprayed walls and armor alike as the soldiers hacked at the bodies, even though Magorthaen was sure that they were already dead. The cheers of his fellow soldiers seemed to echo in the roofless room. He felt the need to get out, but there was no where for him to go. But the cheers told him one thing: he had survived the first battle of the war.

The army made camp around in inside of the old fortress, and they made no secret of their celebration. The bodies of their enemy were piled and burned, and the Sisters of Nienna made their rounds for those Gondorians that could be saved. Magorthaen was very happy to see that not a single man of his tulkarim needed attention. They had all made it through the battle alive.

They all sat silently around the camp fire that night. Magorthaen thought back on the battle, remembering the few small moments that he could actually recall. And he realized that it had been the single-most exhilerating moment of his life. He had never been so scared, nor so exhausted. It had taken everything out of him, more so than crossing the Entwash. And he had felt just as soaked. But he knew, without a doubt, that he could do it again.


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Re: The Battle of Celebrant

Post by Kalon Ordona II on Thu Jan 03, 2013 4:51 am

The army's march across the Wold was an altogether grim affair, after the night march following the ambush on the scouts. Half a night's rest and an early rise, on top of the inevitable confrontation ahead, could not easily be comforted by the bright sun as the army moved forward. Perhaps out of restlessness, some of Anglad's tulkarim did begin to talk as they marched. Narumir told of a dream he'd begun to have that morning.

"A group of us had run out into the night to crush the barbarians," he said.
"The ones who ambushed the scouts?" Darthion was walking to the ruddy swordsman's left.
"It seemed so, though we had passed over a hill, and I see none near at hand. They kept coming out of the dark, needing no torches, and we took many wounds, and we were put to flight. They drove us back to our tents, but there we began to have the mastery, though all the rest of the army remained asleep, all except the Sisters, and they healed us despite their peril."
"I hope we defended them."
"We must have, though I never saw it, for the dream changed, and the fight was over, and the Sisters were with us still. And... one or two clung to some of us."
Some distance behind, Baramir guffawed saying, "Only in your dreams."
At this Halward, near at hand, laughed aloud.
Darthion smiled and lanced back, "At least Narumir has had one. Pretend you would not delight in such a dream if you like, but I will not."
"Did the dream go any further?" asked Baramir slyly.
"I would not tell you if it had. Alas, the dream turned dark again, the rest of the enemy was upon us. The last thing I saw, we were standing valiantly, and a great chieftain charged against me. I felt his mighty stroke upon my shield, and at this I woke."
Anglad looked over, left of Darthion, and in realization said, "I think your chieftain was our cainenhîr."
"Maybe, but how could the dream have known he was coming?"
To this none of them had an answer, but they continued bantering back and forth along the line, and in this way the first hours of marching passed easier for them than for most of the army.

Unexpectedly the march came to a halt, and those keen of sight or sly of hearing soon learned that the scouts had come and were reporting to the turmahîr. Magorthaen was called away. "Anglad, keep them in line," he said, "and make sure they drink plenty of water." Then he hastened to the head of the line with the other cainenhîrs.

As the group passed the water skins, more than one asked, "What do you think will come from the gathering?"
"Battle," said Anglad.
"Nothing good," said Halward at the same time.
"With the enemy so near at hand: either today or tomorrow," Anglad finished.
"Or tonight, if Narumir's dream was an omen," said Darthion.
"It is no use guessing," said Dervorin. "We'll know soon enough."
Anglad accepted a water skin and gulped several mouthfuls of lukewarm water. Passing it on he fell to silence and began to adjust his gear. He took off his helmet, cooling his face and mussed pate for a few moments, then settled it back around his head. Paying attention to his belt and other straps helped him set his mind for whatever new stage was coming.

It was not long before Magorthaen returned. "Battle..." he faltered.
Halward repeated the word, looking at Anglad.
"When?" Orogond was more than ready, and he said as much.
"They are waiting in an old ruin a few miles ahead," Magorthaen managed to say. Anglad could see the burden of leadership heavy on him. "Harnastin has ordered us to attack."
"How many?" several of them asked. Duinhir had now stood up along with Orogond, and others were following.
"I don't know," Magorthaen said. "The scouts said it was only a small detachment from the main horde, but Harnastin claimed this would be the first battle of the war. And he said himself that they were a sizable force."
"Well, what are we waiting for?" Orogond asked. He was trying to see ahead of the rest of the army, as if the enemy was waiting in array just out of sight.
"Orders, Orogond," Magorthaen said, "unless you want to run ahead."
Orogond looked as if he'd like nothing better than to do exactly this, and his right fist tightened as if restraining a full charge, but he nodded.

The order came almost immediately, and the army resumed their march, steering slightly westward from their original course. This time the young men had little taste for words, for their hearts were racing, and each needed within himself to order his thoughts and steel his veins. Over an hour into the march, Anglad thought of home, wondering how easily or hardly fate had decreed his death would come, and whether he might be one of those who never saw their homes again. But the path of that thought led him to the alternative, to what might befall those behind the defending line if Gondor's armies failed. The thoughts chased round themselves in his head, but on their heels grew a simple answer. If every man takes at least his share of the enemy before he himself can fall...."
It was not a realistic thought, he knew, though it came in the guise of sound reason. But it swelled and crowded among the rest of his thoughts until they anchored against the rushing current, and his breathing eased, though his heart raced onward.

The sun was high in the east, its beams lancing against the foothills to the west, and in the distance rose blackened pillars of stone. More and more as the minutes passed, as Anglad looked through the ranks of marching soldiers, the details of the ruined fort began to emerge from the veiled distance. Short stone buildings appeared among the pillars, remnants of the first level, and a little of the second, here and there nothing more than an empty shell, moss-covered and weed-grown. Piles of broken stone and rubble covered the ground all about the once-high towers. As the army approached, Anglad began even to see outlines of dark-clothed men, waiting for them, ready for them. The Gondorian army fanned out and put itself in array, forming a line that stretched between the arms of the low hills among which the ruins crouched.

Anglad gripped his spear. He was at the far right of their tulkarim, which was somewhere in the right-hand half of the army's front line. Brand was to his left, and to his right a veteran soldier from Angrenost. His name was Pelgar, a stout man with an iron stance. "See those walls of rubble?" he said to Anglad, Brand and Dervorin, who was third from the right. "They'll shoot at us before we come to it, and once we're past their line they'll shoot to keep us out of the ward. Between, the skies will be clear. They may be a savage folk, but only orcs would shoot their own. That will be our chance."
"How do you mean?" Anglad asked.
"Just over the wall, we need not fear death from above anywhere close to their line--even just beyond it," he emphasized.
"Break their line and flank them?"
"Our backs to the archers?" asked Dervorin.
"We mow them down from behind. That would suit your style at least, aye?" he said to Anglad.
Anglad didn't have time to respond, for at that moment Harnastin suddenly appeared astride a horse, riding from the far right, where the cavalry waited, straight along the line toward the left. "This is what we came here for, men!" he called out. "Let us give these barbarians a taste of Gondorian steel! Let this mark the boundary of the farthest south they will ever come! Let this first battle set the course of the war!"

Anglad heard Dervorin's voice among the first that rose in answer. A second later, Anglad joined in. A shaking certainty settled into his limbs despite the collective cheer. No matter how much one prepared for battle, there would only be one chance to either win victory, or die. There was no sparring rematch. There was no fair play. Somebody was going to die. Anglad took a breath. Take at least your share of the enemy.
"Your speed will be needed as soon as we're over the wall," Pelgar said, speaking low. "I'll watch your back, son of Anglond, if you'll watch mine."
Anglad exhaled a single, shaky breath, but he nodded. Turning to his companions he said, "Brand? Dervorin?"
"It's better than rushing in blindly," said Brand.
"I don't like it," said Dervorin. "But neither will the enemy. We'll cut a path for you, if we see the chance."
None of them said any more, for Rheinhîr Harnastin leveled his sword toward the enemy, and the army advanced across the field.

The sun at his back, Anglad could see the battlefield clearly as they pressed forward. He could distinguish individual combatants, now, and it was clear that the Gondorian side had the advantage of numbers. Just one, Anglad said to himself. Take at least one, and we all live.


Anglad looked up, startled. He lifted his shield higher than his head, crouching with the rest, trying to form a solid wall between them and the arrows that must be about to rain down.
After a moment of tense anticipation, Anglad felt nothing, but everyone around him stood up. He followed them, resuming the march, but he cursed his lapse in attentiveness. Not a second time, he promised himself, and he altered his gaze as he did on the watch. At once he began to feel a confidence crowd out the dread, and he cared not whether it were bravery or folly: he would hold this feeling.

This time Anglad saw the first arrow loosed into the sky, without looking for it, and his movements helped to signal those around him, though they all moved at nearly the same instant. The first arrow struck the center of his shield with a metallic dint. The second embedded itself close to the edge, all but knocking Anglad off balance, causing his shield arm to bend awkwardly inward and nearly into his face. Anglad grunted sharply, but he stood with the rest. They were getting close now to the wall. There was a call from the commander, and the Gondorians surged forward.
All at once they fell upon the wall of rubble, and on hands and knees at first they climbed the broken stones. Then up those treacherous stairs they strode and balanced and clambered. Anglad used the base of his shield for support, and the long spear in his hand served as a balance. Anglad was first of those immediately around him to reach the crest of the wall, but no sooner had he caught a view of the masked, black and red and gold warriors beyond than he felt the impact of a javelin against his shield, knocking him back. Somehow he'd gotten the shield up in time to save his own life, but his shield-arm rang and burned, and he was falling backward.
A spear-haft and a shield pressed against his back. "Got you!" said Pelgar's voice. Dervorin pulled aside the javelin as the three rushed forward, pushing Anglad forward onto his feet.
Anglad turned his mind to regaining his balance with help from behind, and with a cry he followed through and charged down the sloping debris with Dervorin, Brand and Pelgar just out of his field of vision, keeping stride toward what became a wave of weapons. Anglad noticed a pike blade arcing toward him, but he was out of its path by the time it came round, and Dervorin deflected the blow with his shield. Brand thrust his spear at the tall Easterling, who jumped backward. But Pelgar also had spear in hand, and this he hurled at the man, and it smote through his armor and took him into his fellows behind. Pelgar drew sword and advanced on the nearest enemy on the right side.
Anglad's charge carried him into a warrior in front. His spear was leveled at the man's body, but the enemy turned the spear aside. Anglad could not stop. He lifted his shield and crashed into the man and managed to break his momentum upon him enough that the man was pushed back two desperate steps. Anglad's ehtar training took over, and he thrust the long blade of his spear through the man's mail and into his middle. The feel of the enemy's flesh and blood through the haft of his spear as he withdrew the blade was for a moment overpowering. Anglad thrust at the next man when the first fell, but his eyes swam, and he missed, and the foe advanced.
A spear flew past Anglad's head and buried itself in the man's leg. He fell forward, almost on top of Anglad, but Brand was there with a blade for the man to fall upon. His fall almost brought Brand to the ground with him, but Anglad regained his wits and shoved the enemy so that he fell to the side. Then the veterans of Pelgar's group began to force their way forward, but the way was perilous.
"Now! Haste!" shouted Pelgar as he fought the next man to the side.
Anglad saw what the older man had seen, and he sprang through a gap in the wall of men, whirled round, and brandishing the spear sideways, slashed through the backs of two Easterlings. Pelgar followed and the second rank behind the Gondorian front line followed, forcing an ever wider divide of the enemy.

Just one. Just one. Stab, cut. Thrust, withdraw. Thrust, turn. Slash. Anglad wounded the backs of three Easterlings and ran another completely through before they realized what had happened. But more troops were pouring from the fortress, and the knot of Gondorians that had pushed through the gap were being surrounded. Anglad found himself face to face with three Easterlings, two with pikes and one with a curved sword. Anglad's spear was longer by far, but he could not alone keep them at bay for long. Yet he was doing so, he realized, through positioning and clever anticipation--the skills he had developed in the sparring ring. Once he nearly stabbed the hand of one holding a pike, but many times he nearly had his spear swatted aside. Anglad began to be afraid when he sensed the three foes were learning his patterns, but within moments the rest of the army began to appear from beyond the line, and Anglad and those nearby were absorbed into Gondor's advancing line. They had passed the wall.

Now forming a shield wall Hammar's training came into effect. Slowly at first as the enemy knotted against them, but then more and more, the wall solidified, and though groups continued to charge their line, it was clear they were fighting a defeat. As they neared the walls of the fort, Anglad noticed two companies of Gondorian horsemen charging in from the hills northeast. One to cut off the retreat, and the other straight into the fortress from the side while the main force was distracted at the front. There was little left for Anglad to do but raise his shield if the archers fired, and try to support his allies from behind whenever an enemy came close.
Dervorin had drawn his bow and was among those firing up into the enemy battlements.
Twice Anglad raised shield to cover against arrows, but no more struck him.

"Forward!" yelled a commander; Anglad recognized Hammar's voice. "Strike them down!"
All around Anglad the army charged, and he could do nothing but jostle forward with them. He heard the metal, blood and screams but could see no more till all was ended. Gondor's army streamed into the fortress and occupied its center. The dead littered the ground, hacked to pieces. Anglad soon turned away from the sight, seeking the rest of his tulkarim. Cheers began to mount, announcing victory.

Anglad stayed with Dervorin, Brand, and then also Duinhir, Callon and Hirbarad, until Magorthaen and the rest could find them. Orogond joined them first, and his entire right side was covered in blood that was not his. He was laughing softly as if in his memory he saw things he liked but could scarcely believe, and when he saw them he held up three bloody fingers. "How many did you all take?" he asked.
"Two," said Brand, only half believing his own voice, and he began to grin, but he looked down instead at his sword-hand; both arm and blade were red.
"None," said Dervorin, "but I wounded at least eight, maybe eleven."
Orogond gestured with his red hand. "Wounding cannot count, or my score would be fourteen."
"At least one," said Anglad, inwardly relieved to be able to say those words, "maybe two, I'm not sure."
A heavy hand clapped Anglad on the back, and he almost stumbled forward. "Four," Pelgar corrected.
"You took four?" Anglad asked.
"You took four," Pelgar emphasized, "and you bloodied more than that--I think I counted seven. Our plan didn't work quite as I thought, yet for your part it went exactly as I'd hoped."
Anglad tried to remember, but he was at a loss.
Orogond gave him an oddly appraising look.
The others began congratulating and recounting what they could remember. Callon hadn't killed, but he was part of the shield wall from the start, and he wounded a foe next to one of the veterans. Hirbarad and Duinhir had been with Halward, and the three of them together had taken down two of the enemy by the wall.
"Then Halward shot at least one from the towers, maybe more," said Hirbarad.
"The front line is always the most dangerous," said Pelgar, "but also the most victorious. We've made a name for Angrenost today."
The youths cheered.
"Where are the others, and your cainenhîr?"
"Ah, I am called. It looks as if we are to set up camp here today. We'll come and see you later."

"I shall be glad of some shelter tonight," said Brand. "I am very weary."
"Where is Magorthaen?" Anglad asked when Pelgar had gone.
"Halward was somewhere over there," said Duinhir, gesturing toward the southeast corner of the fort. "Maybe Magorthaen and the others are there, too."
"No," said Orogond, "he's with Findegil and Araglas. The rest are setting up our camp. Come on."

By the time the tulkarim were back together, their weariness had caught up with them. The night's march and the morning after, the first taste of battle, their chief thought was not of food but of sleep, and most of the youths did indeed take a few hours' rest.
That evening, though there was food and such celebration as can be mustered at the grisly site of battle, for the younger men, especially those who that day had killed their first, the boasting was over and the brooding began. Night called out to the darkness and death in their recent experience. They could hardly look at each other while the dark lasted, much less speak of what the blood and desperate cries made them feel. Anglad kept hoping Pelgar and the other veterans from Angrenost might come and see them, but they never did.
When the stars came out, winking amid the smoke and sparks of the campfires, though many of the soldiers celebrated still, one by one the tulkarim turned toward sleep and perhaps an early rise.
And as he lay, Anglad wondered if he could do again what he had done today. If Pelgar hadn't advised him and spurred him on, and if Dervorin and Brand hadn't been there to help, how much did he really think he could have accomplished on his own? Just one? he thought again. At least one, he decided, or hoped.
Kalon Ordona II
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Re: The Battle of Celebrant

Post by Silvan Arrow on Tue Feb 12, 2013 12:53 pm

Rays of sunlight filtered through the dusty air of the stable loft, ripe with the scent of fresh hay and horse, and alighted across Finrod’s half-open eyes as the sun climbed higher into the sky. His glazed vision cleared, and he blinked a few times while the world snapped back to focus. The few hours of sleep had refreshed him greatly, bringing a contented smile to his face. He sat up and stretched, feeling the grateful tug of muscles that were, for once, not sore from constant riding and long watches in the night’s chill.

Finrod looked to his two companions and saw that Elendyne had yet to stir. Judging from the glassy appearance of her half-lidded eyes, she had sublimated herself deeply into her waking dreams, more so than he had seen in days. Good, he thought. She needed the rest. Even though he knew she placed complete trust in him and Huor, he had often caught her waking during the watches when she should have slept, unable to escape her healer’s instincts to look after those in her care. Despite his promise to rest, Huor still sat at the foot of his bedroll, his watchful gaze never wavering. The stoic elf glanced over at Elendyne, whom had shifted closer to him in her sleep, and his expression softened ever so slightly. Any human would have missed it, but to Finrod, who had served under Huor since he first learned to draw a bow, the change was unmistakable.

Shaking his head slightly in amusement, Finrod crossed the loft silently, mindful to not disturb Elendyne, and rested his hand on Huor’s shoulder. The older elf looked up and met Finrod’s gaze, and a brief wordless communication passed between them. Huor nodded briefly and lay back on his bedroll, finally succumbing to the weariness that he had refused to show. Satisfied, Finrod returned to his bedroll and sat cross-legged to take over the watch. A few minutes later, the sound of soft footsteps below drew his attention, a little noisier than an elf but not as harsh as a man. Finrod crouched and peered over the edge of the loft to see the human maiden, Aethylwyn her name was, that had helped them during the night.

Finrod had never encountered humans before, so he watched curiously while she retrieved Amras from his stall and saddled him. He could tell from her body language that she was trying to be quiet, but even a human’s best efforts at stealth would still be plain as day to his kin. Still, she had a certain grace about her that he could only place as distinctly…human. Her footsteps did not glide across the floor like those of the elf maidens, but something about the quiet confidence of her movements as she worked on her horse intrigued him.

It was only a matter of time before Aethylwyn glanced up and noticed him, and he was making no effort to hide his presence. They locked gazes briefly before she nodded to him and finished tightening Amras’ girth. Finrod tilted his head curiously as he continued watching. Always in such a rush, these humans were. They looked about as though time itself hounded their heels, always reminding them of their mortality. Finrod’s elders had always thought of the humans’ mortality as a weakness, but perhaps…perhaps mortality was the very thing that oft prompted them to do great deeds?

For now, however, mortality did not appear to be in Aethylwyn’s favor. Finrod peered more closely and could clearly see the fatigue evident in her expression. Her eyes were dull from weariness, and dark circles were evident beneath them. Her clothes hung too loosely on her frame, which slouched slightly as opposed to the tall, regal pose that came so naturally to his kin. Finrod frowned in displeasure. The threat must be more potent than Léohelm wished to admit if even their maidens were feeling the toll. Before he could say anything, Aethylwyn swung into Amras’ saddle and departed, leaving Finrod to muse silently over what he had witnessed.


The sun had reached its peak and had just begun her journey towards the west when Elendyne finally stirred. Her mind arose from the depths of her waking dreams as her vision cleared and she sat up to survey her surroundings. She smiled in relief to see Huor finally resting and met Finrod’s ever-friendly gaze from across the loft where he had been keeping watch. She made a gesture with her head to meet her outside the stable, and the two noiselessly climbed down from the loft and walked into the sunshine, still keeping their voices low.

“Did you rest well?” Elendyne asked in elvish.

“Aye, I think we all needed the break, you in particular,” Finrod replied with a pointed expression.

Elendyne had the grace to look properly chastised before continuing, “I think we should head into town. If we are to depart tomorrow, then we shall need to re-stock our provisions.”

Finrod gave a look of concern. “Won’t we cause a disturbance if the humans see us? I get the impression they do not oft have dealings with our kin.”

“I fear we do not have much of a choice. Besides, we are currently guests of one of their councilmen. Word will surely spread with or without our interference.” Elendyne’s gaze darkened momentarily. “I fear there will soon come a time when our two peoples will need to ally against the growing shadow. The thought of elves in the midst of humans should not be a foreign idea to them.”

Finrod conceded the point with a grim nod. “Very well.” He glanced back in the direction of the loft. “Should we wake Huor?”

Elendyne wrestled with the idea for a moment. “Nay, let him rest. He’s been pulling more than his fair share of night watches these past few days. I’ll leave a note so he doesn’t worry if he wakes to find us gone.”

“Huor is very much awake, thank you,” came a deadpan voice from behind them.

In a comical moment that was almost human, Elendyne and Finrod spun around in unison, eyes wide, to find the dark-haired elf in question standing behind them, arms crossed and a slightly grouchy expression on his face. Neither of them had heard him approach, despite their heightened senses. “Huor, how did you...?” Finrod began.

“Centuries of experience. You breathe so loud a warg could hear you in a thunderstorm,” Huor stated matter-of-factly to Finrod. To Elendyne, he said in a gentler tone, “It is my duty and privilege to worry.”

Elendyne laughed lightly and patted his arm. “Very well, Huor, you have made your point. Come, my friends, we shall all go into town.”

Before the sun had gone too far past her zenith, the three elves had made their way to the more populated sections of Greybarrow, where the craft masters and merchants had their work places and market stalls. They had left their horses at the stable and simply walked into town, but Elendyne wondered if they had made a mistake once they arrived. They had agreed to let their hair hang freely to conceal their pointed ears, but even without that telltale sign, many of the humans regarded them with suspicion, as though they could tell that something was different. Elendyne noted the way the humans moved, with a gait slightly choppier and bouncier than an elf’s effortless glide, and knew that the difference would be obvious even to the most unobservant human.

The situation improved little once they actually started interacting with the merchants. Judging from the size of the population, Elendyne guessed that this was a close-knit community, with few strangers passing through, let alone those of a different race. She tried to be as polite and nonthreatening as possible, even exuding the comforting aura of a healer that she used to quiet the wounded under her care, but if anything, it just made them even more uneasy of what they perceived as different. She had to wave Huor back several times when he hovered too closely and made the merchants even more nervous.

After about half an hour had passed in this manner, the elves regrouped at the edge of the crowd. “This is not going as well as I had hoped,” Elendyne admitted.

“I don’t understand why they’re so cautious of us,” Finrod objected, switching his speech to elvish. “We haven’t done anything to threaten them.”

“Keep your voice down,” Huor admonished, speaking in Common Tongue. “Your ranting in a language they do not recognize is hardly helping the situation.” The younger elf had the good grace to blush in embarrassment. Turning back to Elendyne, he continued, “We could spend all day going between stalls at this rate.”

“Begging your pardon, but could I be of assistance?”

Three heads swiveled in unison to see a young man, barely on the cusp of adulthood, regarding the elves with a mix of excitement and apprehension. “I am Leofric, son of Helmgar, my lords and lady. My father, Léohelm’s brother, sent me in case you needed any assistance in the market.”

Elendyne smiled warmly at the boy. “Yes, I believe we could greatly use the help. Thank you.” Finrod even breathed an audible sigh of relief as Leofric gestured for them to follow him.

Their market experience went much more smoothly with Leofric guiding them. Elendyne guessed that Helmgar carried a great deal of authority among the people here, because they no longer regarded the elves with as much suspicion now that his son was with them. Leofric showed them the stalls that sold what they needed, introduced them to the merchants, and even haggled down most of the prices. By the end of the afternoon, they had procured enough food, spare clothing, and basic medical supplies to last them well until their next destination.

Elendyne thanked Leofric profusely for his assistance, and they made their way back to the house as the sun started to dip below the horizon. After sorting their supplies into their saddle bags, the elves dropped into the house briefly to speak with Léohelm’s family and ask for recommendations as to where they should go next. Instead, Elendyne walked into the main room to find Helmwyn fretting and fussing about Aethylwyn missing dinner again. She asked if she could be of any assistance, and before Elendyne knew it, she was laden down with a bag of food, directions to the bridge where Aethylwyn was standing watch, and numerous entreaties and words of gratitude from the woman’s worried sister.

Elendyne returned to the stable to saddle Nessa. Huor and Finrod offered to come with her, but she kindly waved them off. “There is hardly a need for all of us to go. I won’t be long.” Within a few minutes, she was in the saddle and on an easy gallop to the bridge. Nessa tossed her head impatiently. She was well-rested now and glad for the chance to stretch her legs. Sure enough, Elendyne found Aethylwyn standing watch on the bridge with her horse standing nearby. The woman regarded Elendyne curiously as she swung out of the saddle and held out the bag of food. “Good evening, Aethylwyn. Your sister was worried about you missing dinner. Please, take a break and eat.” She didn't need a healer's training to see why Helmwyn was so worried. In the short amount of time she had known Aethylwyn, she could already see signs of exhaustion showing in her face and in the way her clothes looked a little too big for her frame.

Mortality. Such an ominous word. And yet, Elendyne knew she would learn much more about mortality as she spent more time among humans.
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Re: The Battle of Celebrant

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