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  1. Pellaadarion's Avatar
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    #1
    Tales from Harondor



    "Not all those who wander all lost." - - J.R.R. Tolkien
    On Gondorian maps, Harondor has clearly defined borders: the Poros to the north, Ephel Dúath to the northeast, the Harnen to the south, and the Bay of Belfalas to the west. Thus it is the largest province in southern Gondor.Physically, culturally, and economically, however, Harondor has always been bound to the larger spheres of Near Harad and Umbar.Despite determined efforts by the Stewards and others to populate the country with Gondorians and to wall off outsiders, the history of Harondor has always turned on events occurring beyond the Harnen.
    Harondor was once a richly populated realm, but generations of warring between Gondorian kings and the Rebel Lordship of Umbar have left the region a debatable and desert land. There are a few scattered towns and small-holdings, un-marked on most maps. This is a solitary land of southern desert and northern grassland; a man can ride for days and find no sign of civilisation. But neither is life as hard and ruthless as in Harad, where the dunes stretch for weeks in every direction.


    In the the north, Harondor is divided from Gondor by a range of mountains named the Emyn Laer. The easiest way to travel from Harondor to Gondor is through a wide valley that cuts through this range. Soon after the traveller will encounter the Poros river and the Gondorian garrison of the Tir Ethraid which is built at a natural ford named the Crossings of Poros. The north-east border is truly impassible, blocked by the high Ephel Dúath mountains which mark the beginnings of Mordor.
    To the west is the great sea, Belfalas and to the north-west the road to Dol Amroth, which leads through the pass of Cirith Dúnrandir to the prince's land of Dor-en-Ernil and eventually the citadel of Dol Amroth itself.
    To the east lies the mysterious land of Khand, and the mostly nomadic Variag tribes within.
    In the south-west, Harondor stretches all the way to Umbar; City of the Corsairs which is built on the shores of a natural inlet on the coast. To the far south is the Dune Sea, and the realm of Harad beyond.

    Mission:
    Play as your characters from Umbar and Gondor in this thread, and also as miscellaneous bandits, travellers, merchants and nomads. Tell your own stories and create your own adventures in this desolate land.

    Hints and Tips
    - In Character posts only please.
    - Posts over 300 characters preferred.
    - Anyone may write and become involved in a story here.
    Last edited by Pele Alarion; 27/Jan/2013 at 05:01 PM.

  2. Lady Aikári's Avatar
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    #2

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    <DIV align=center>Leídan Aznawar of the Azumenúkhad in Khand



    History and culture of the Azumenúkhad tribe (1)<?: prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" /><O:P></O:P>[/B]
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    From the deep lands of <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Khandur[/I] he came. Nameless he travelled around, not entrusting anyone with his real identity or his nature. He wore the garb of his people tight around him, face and head covered also in large scarves. His robes were in sand colour mostly, there he disliked the black and red most peoples of the plains and desert clothed themselves in. His land of origin lay between the <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Ered Caradhram[/I] in the northwest and the <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Ered Harmal[/I] in the southeast. Both mountain chains met each other in the north through a rather small gap into the dangerous lands of east <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Mordor[/I]. It was mainly dry land on the steppe like plains. More to the mountain chains the land was somewhat richer, but against the <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Ered Caradhram[/I] grew rather a little. His people called it the mountains of darkness. Over the tops seemed always-dark clouds hanging and they never vanished, not even by a sigh of wind. The mountains in the east, <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Ered Harmal[/I] were different, full of life and covered with pine trees. He belonged to a nomadic people, who lived in large tents. In a tent lived a whole family, children, women and men together. The tent knew men and women quarters and a part was for both. Guests were welcomed in the union section. He had not known anything else, not other ways than those meant for men and those meant for women. He had his own culture. <O:P></O:P>
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    <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan Aznawar [/B]was the current name he was known. He wore the traditional garb of his people, distancing greatly from the other peoples of the plains living more to the west of <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Khandur[/I] and in the river delta of the <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Harnen[/I]. He was used to the intense heat in the summer and the icy cold during the winter months. His tribe <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Azumenúkhad[/I] the grounds near the <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Ered Harmal[/I]. They travelled depending on the season to the north or to the south. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] was a silent man mainly when together with the other men of his tribe. Among family, he was more relaxed and he could easily make jokes with his younger sister <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B]. He was the second son, third born out of seven children together. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B] followed him by two years. Neither he or <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B] were married or had a partner they loved. The tribe forbade contact with other women other than his sisters, mother or aunts for <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B]. For <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B] it was the other way around. She could not meet other men. So brother and sister had only each other, except for friends of their own sexes. <O:P></O:P>
    <O:P></O:P>
    Other than the <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Harmunekhad[/I] tribe and other neighbouring ones, the <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Azumenúkhad[/I] tribe held to monogamy marriage, where a man married one women and vice versa. It had always been as far the history of the tribe went. Why they differed from the surrounding tribes was unknown. Neither it could be explained why the men and women had a fair light brown hide and grey eyes. The <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Harmunekhad[/I] tribe were a harsh people, habiting the western plains of <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Khandur[/I] with their chariot wagons and their great horned mammals. The cultures in the north referred to them as the Variags. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] didn’t know anything of all the campaigns throughout the ages that the Variags had done around the border of Gondor and in the land itself. The <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Azumenúkhad[/I] tribe were mostly on themselves, having fairly little contact with the surrounding tribes. Only when one of the tribes made claim over the <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Azumenúkhad[/I] grounds, <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B]’s tribe went to war and fought ferociously. What was theirs remains theirs. More than once <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] had rode to war together with the other men of his tribe. Instead of armour, the <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Azumenúkhad[/I] wore multiple layers of clothes that protected them to weather as well in fight. They wore nothing else than the clothing of the plains. Their traditional garbs were clean in religious meanings, armour was not. Then stiff leather or metal armour could mean death if you fought in it in the icy winter weather or under the burning of the summer sun. The Variags fought in armour derived from the coastal tribes near <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Belegaer[/I]. In the wars the <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Azumenúkhad[/I] women fought sometimes along the men and knew to fire arrows or wielding swords. It was difficult to determine when you met a member of the <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Azumenúkhad[/I] tribe, if you dealt with a man or a woman, because of the headdresses and the robes they wore over their clothes against the sand of the plains.



    <O:P><B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] and <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B] had left together the lands of <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Khandur[/I] for a journey of adventure to the west. It had taken more than forty nights to cross through <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Khandur[/I] to the green river delta of <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Haruzan[/I]. The <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Harnen[/I] went from east to west, and half way joined a river from the north in it, the beginning founded in the <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Ered Caradhram[/I]. At the crossing of the two rivers was a bridge, where the road the green delta followed to the coast. Here began the land of <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Aradhzúm[/I], or called in the northern tongues, Harondor. It was quite dangerous to cross these lands with the pirates from the coast sailing inland. The colourful clothes and the snit of them were unlike the anonymous plain robes of the <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Azumenúkhad. [/I]Brother and sister rode no horse, but another kind of animal that was barely seen in the western lands of Umbar. The <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Azumenúkhad[/I] tribe called it “the ship of the desert”, an animal standing high on it’s legs, having a high back and was even a more loyal friend than a horse could be. Animal and rider befriended each other for life, and protected each other against thirst, hunger and danger upon the wild plains of <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Khandur[/I]. The <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Azumenúkhad[/I] called this ship <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Azumeh[/I]. Other than on horseback, it also acquired a special way of riding. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] and <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B] moved both with the walk of the <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Azumeh[/I].
    <O:P></O:P></O:P>Edited by: Lady Aikári

  3. Lady Aikári's Avatar
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    History and culture of the Azumenúkhad tribe (2)

    They travelled westbound with on their right the east march of Harondor. The march was one large empty plain, where nothing grew, not even grasses. It was a treacherous land known for quicksand places in unexpected spots. Over the green delta of the river they could see the sanddunes and rocks. The <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Harnen[/I] flooded in the spring over the land on both sides, when the snow of the Ered Harmal melted. It was still winter and thus the water stood at the lowest point in the river. If too much water came from the mountains, the road where they now travelled over vanished as well below water level. Then the sub road near the sand dunes would be used. Segment for fertile ground would flow down on both flooded sides and so when the summer arrived, the water would leave again and so new plants grow there again. The banks were half marches where many water birds lived. More to the west, they met a second river coming from the north, joining again in the <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Harnen[/I]. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] and <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B] crossed the river by bridge and continued westbound. Their <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Azumehda[/I] could be quick and sometimes ran by themselves to lose their energy. <?: prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />

    <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] was fond of his ship, and trusted his <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Azumeh[/I] more than he would do to his brothers. An <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Azumeh [/I]didn’t know betrayal or jealousy. Above him were a brother and sister, and below <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B] two other brothers and a sister. Then there were his parents as well. His father was renowned man among the tribe, his mother respected because she brought all her seven children alive and healthy in this world. Despite of the other tribes where women usual belonged to the possessions of the man, among the <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Azumenúkhad [/I]it was not so. A man could become renowned for his bravery and valour, but never as respected as a woman who gave new life. The mother was a symbol among the <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Azumenúkhad, [/I]highly regarded. To give new life was the hardest task for a human and according the legends among them, it was gift given the women by the Gods. The man had received other gifts. Where <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] or <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B] went, home or on travel, there were two moments on the day, where they took time to pray to their Gods. Usual they performed their prayers in the morning before breakfast and in the evening before going to sleep.

    Bro and sis avoided the small villages, knowing that they would not be welcome there. The coastal peoples were rather suspicious of the peoples from the inlands, and even more from people who belonged to the eastern tribes. The Variags were widely known of their raids, as they rode their chariots to the east, attacked the cities of the Umbarian pirates there and returned with the loot of a raid back to their lands. On the highways they were a nice attraction to see for the local population, as they didn’t see nomads each days of the lands in the east, and especially from lands around the <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Ered Harmal[/I], where in the mountains fairies lived. Throughout the lands in the middle of <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Harondor[/I] believed Men that the fairies were blessed with long life, could withstand the extremes of the weather and stood closer to the Gods. Sometimes offers were given to them, and requests or questions were given to them, so they could ask the Gods for an answer. This was important to do, because not honouring the fairies could influence your fate in life. You had to keep them on your side.

    The <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Azumenúkhad [/I]were an indigenous people from east <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Khandur[/I]. According their annals guarded by the master historian they came from the east thousands of years ago, and settled west of the <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Ered Harmal[/I] over more than four thousand years ago. The lands were named differently then. The ancient land of <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Hildorawar[/I] was forever lost. The legends said that all men in the world came from there, lands where they had awoken by the Gods after a long eternal sleep. The sun had been high in the heavens. The first men and women were said to be long of shape, faired hair in shades between gold to black and eyes like the shades of seawater, or like the sky before a storm. Of the Gods had come truly just one to them, and many of Men loved his words and believed the promises of rich lands in the west. In later times this God had settled deep in the northwest of Middle Earth, faraway from them. The legends told further of a great land of green in the west, but to reach it two mountains chains had to be crossed. The ancestors of the <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Azumenúkhad [/I]were already adapted to the steppe plains and didn’t feel to travel full to the west over those mountains, but at the crossings around the ancient lake of <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Rhûnaur[/I] the tribe had chosen to go south. The lake was still there, far way to the north. The legends told on that the <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Azumenúkhad [/I]came through a mild land of endless steppes, where green grass waved in the wind. To the south they travelled around a large desert, which they called the <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Haradwar[/I]. It was the anvil of the Gods. It was impossible to cross that land. So they had travelled around it, coming upon a fair innersea and from the tribe had gone around a rich mountain chain, that thousand years later came under the shadow of one of the Gods, who had chosen that land around that sea as his stronghold. The <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Azumenúkhad [/I]had left that land in better times and entered the lands of later <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Khandur[/I] through a broad gap between the mountain chain of Mordor and another farther to the east. The <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Azumenúkhad [/I]had always known of the darkness ruling in Mordor.

  4. Lady Aikári's Avatar
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    <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Entering district Emyn Imladrim, southwest Harondor (1)<?: prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />[/B]

    <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] and <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B] passed by small villages, raised from wood and loam. More to the coast, they came upon towns as well, where lesser and lesser influences were visible from the nomadic inlands. Here arose cities, build of stone. It was unlike from what both knew. Small villages they grasped easily with a local market, but big cities with a wall around not. Neither they felt comfortable inside walls<B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">. Leídan[/B] was glad about the garb of his people, because it provided him the anonimity he wished for. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Nieda[/B] had to cover her face anyway, so to avoid any attraction of unwanted men and women, and to hide that she was female. Her female nature could bring her in trouble, if the Umbarian pirates knew. Like the Variags of the plains, they abducted women and children on regular basis to lock up in their own households. In this situation, <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B] passed around for a younger teenage brother of <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B], in case they could not wear the veils for their faces. It had taken another twenty-five nights from the delta river <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Haruzan[/I] to the coast.

    The quite curly handwriting on a board along the road was unreadable for both <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B] and <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B]. Also it was in a language they didn’t comprehend. They had travelled many miles to the west, and entered strange country. Where colour really reigned here, the colours of their tribe were plain. In the desert was no use for wild colours when the sun burned upon your head. The sun bleached anything. Bright colours would become dull, dark colours shifted a few shades lighter. The large linen cloth covered their head and veiled their faces. <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Shagur [/I]is what they called it, their robes <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Sehada. [/I]They had come around a walled city, which was locally called <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Gobel Mírlond[/I]. But as neither could read the sign along the road, bro and sis didn’t know it. Walls were wrong, they were like a gorge, you could be trampled in it and never come out. The thought nauseated <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] considerable. Uncomfortable he looked sideways to his sister and then eyed the at least three men high walls. How thick they were, he couldn’t guess. Upon the walls walked men in red and black harnesses and spears they held in their hands. What would spears be off use upon a wall? <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B], a son of the desert, fell from one surprise into the other.

    With <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B] it was no differently. Through the eye slit in her headdress, she watched the guards as well. She took care not making eye contact with them, but looking occasionally. They were followed anyhow from above. Her mood brightened when the city fell behind them. They urged their <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Azumehda[/I] on to have the city soon behind them. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] sometimes looked behind them if curious people followed them. The <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Azumehda [/I]could be fast, if they had to run. Neither of them fell off during the short run to the coast. They reached the sea in the evening. They forgot the city, as they saw from the cliffs how the sun going down in the west set the water on fire. As creatures of the desert, human and animal stared at this strange phenomenon; believing that the water was a fire pool, where the sun vanished in it. The <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Azumehda [/I]nor <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] or <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B] could place the rouse from beneath them. They stood on the cliffs and watched the Fire Sea. As soon the sun was gone, the Fire Sea turned black as ash in a fireplace. Unsure what this place was both knew they had something to tell when they returned home. They had seen what the sun did to water when it vanished beneath it. They knew it would not be wise to come close to this.








    They came upon a group of trees not a few miles more to the north from the sharp point of land into the Fire Sea. It was little oasis where except for some wild animals none camped. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] instructed his <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Azumeh[/I] to lie down, so he could step of him. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B] signalled hers to do the same. Both felt stiff and tired from the whole day riding through strange civilised country. While <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] looked after their <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Azumehda[/I], <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B] built a small fire and prepared some food. They ran pretty low now and somehow she or her brother had to see to it that they assembled new. While dinner cooked, she sent <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] around the small oasis to see what delicious secrets were hidden here. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] did as requested, even if he was hungry now. What he could find meant more variation they could eat. Deep in the oasis was fresh water, where he filled the water sacks and allowed the <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Azumehda[/I] to quench their thirst. Under the large leafs near the ground he found strawberries and blueberries. Despite the darkening sky, <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] worked quick to assemble as much he could. Tomorrow they would stay here and assemble more to cook them later. They would make jam of the berries and a part would be dried. Both knew different conserving methods without the need of salt.

  5. Lady Aikári's Avatar
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    #5

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    <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Passing throughdistrict Emyn Imladrim, southwest Harondor (2)[/B]

    After dinner, both knelt down to the east and softly whispered their prayers to the Gods. The legends told that the Gods lived in the east, as the sun would be reborn there and so climb the sky. The sun was the mother of all the men and women, giving warmth and life to her. They knew how plants and flowers loved her, as they opened their heads in the morning and turned to her. The lights laid the hidden world of colour bare and shoved the dark clouds aside. Birds and animals were fond of her too, as they appeared in the mornings from holes and in the open grass fields upon the mountainsides of the <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Ered Harmal.[/I] Birds above also began to sing, soon the first rays of the sun lightened up the sky. Where at night could be so silent, at first light life could burst out in full ecstasy. The <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Azumenúkhad [/I]people hated darkness of the night. The next morning both took after each other a bath in private. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B] went first when <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] was still asleep. Men and women had to be clean by their beliefs, so they took great care with the rituals. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B] boiled water to wash their dirty clothes and hang them afterwards to dry over the branches in the trees. Everything was boiled out, even their <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">sehadar[/I] and s<I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">hagur[/I]. So today, they wore only their normal clothes. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] wrung the water out all the clothes, before giving them back to his sister. After midday, he went hunting to see if he could capture a few hares. He came back also with a wingless dead bird. He did the dirty work of skinning the hares and the bird. Some of the meat was baked and dried for the travel ahead. One hare they would eat tonight for dinner. Brother and sister had both their assigned roles, and traditionally they kept to it. <?: prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" /><O:P></O:P>
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    Again they watched the sunset over the Fire Sea. It was both a magnificent as well scaring sight. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B] whispered a prayer for the rest in her mind. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B]’s face was grim. The sea was not their thing. But their fear was replaced by astonishment when at the horizon sudden appeared a pointy form, indicating some kind of ship. It was difficult to see for them against the darkening sky. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B] pressed her hands together and bowed her head to touch her forehead. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] touched her shoulder and pointed to the ship at the horizon. There was light onboard. But as it sailed somewhat closer it was not a rough ship, but a design of more delicacy and finer forms. Then the last rays were gone and the sea was black again, taking the ship also in it. Brother and sister returned to their campfire and settled down for the night. In the morning after prayer and breakfast they broke up and left on their <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Azumehda[/I] the oasis and travelled along the Fire Sea more to the north. <O:P></O:P>
    <O:P></O:P>
    After a day ride they came passed through a shallow point in a river that crossed their path. It had a name, but there was no sign that said it. So nameless for them they urged their <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Azumehda[/I] to walk through the wading point and continue their travel north. Has Adri was another little fishers village at the coast, where a lot of Umbarian pirates sailed the Fire Sea to unknown destinations. Neither <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] or <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B] knew that endless miles of land lay to the north and how far it all stretched, and that it would take years to reach the cold north. They left the coast, avoided the village and rode off to the sand dunes in the east, which would lead to the desert beyond. In this rather dry environment grew here and there vegetations. Both knew the steppes well. The lands of <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Khandur[/I] were mostly the same, before the real desert began. They travelled through the dunes and came then into the hills, where secrets settlements were located of the local nomads. These peoples wore mainly blue coloured robes, their wives never visible in the open. <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Harondor[/I] was not really desert lands, but more to the east was a road that came for some time through desert like land, before it crossed a side arm of the northern river cutting <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Harondor[/I] in two. Half way the riverbanks were green, and a city lay on the route. The <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Emyn Imladrim[/I] hills ran toward the west and in the north, it went over in the <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Emyn Laer[/I]. By the winds from the west, this land was quite dry, but not devoid from life. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] and <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B] rode on, careful not to try drawing too much attention to themselves. <O:P></O:P>
    <O:P></O:P>
    Nevertheless, it was impossible in these dunes to avoid all human contact. The vegetation became a little richer, the same as animal life on the ground and in the air. They neared an oasis again, where the ground came rockier and thus also human settlement in the form of a camp was hidden between the rocks and against the sandstorms from the south. Hidden eyes had spotted their coming into their lands and watched them. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B] noticed the presented earlier than her brother did and she made a little comment on it. It shook <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] out of his reverie and he raised his head to scan the low rocks for human life, but saw nobody. “<I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">They are there, brother,” [/I]insisted <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B] soft, almost whispering. Her words were muffled through the veil she wore over her nose and mouth. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] heard it anyway. “<I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Yah, we are being watched,” [/I]he replied, his words the same way muffled. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B]’s luck to travel as a young man came also that she had a low timbre in her voice. All the women in their family had it, including their mother. Their <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Azumehda[/I] walked on in a steady pace, but bro and sis could feel that their ships didn’t feel at ease. It meant that settlement was near, and that both had to be on their watch. The rocks were here four to five men high and deep ravines changed the low mountain ridge into a maze. Neither bro nor sis went into the maze, not knowing where it would end, or there were secret passageways or that a ravine would be a dead-end. They kept on going while the sun went down in the west, following the ridge toward the north. They had to stop their <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Azumehda[/I] when sudden a group of more than five men on horseback appeared from a side gorge and rode to them in gallop. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] drove his <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Azumeh[/I] front, so <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B] came into his shadow at his right side. The men neared them from their left, and held their horses in soon they were on speaking distance. The leader of the group called something to them in a tongue they had never heard. <O:P></O:P>
    <O:P></O:P>
    <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] was a bit nervous by this forced and unexpected meeting. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B] was much calmer and drove her <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Azumeh[/I] a little around him and started to use the sign language they had learned as children. She signalled only that they were travellers and just passed through this country with no intensions to stay or to intrude. One of the men in the group knew the sign language as well, answered that they could not go on, and had to follow them. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B] made a motion with her head to her brother and <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] knew there was chance to escape this. So he motioned his <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Azumeh[/I] to go toward the strange group of an unknown tribe. The tribes of the plains had a signal language to communicate with each other; also they could use it for smoke of a fire to spread messages. Both spoke their tribal language, as well a few others. But it was now to puzzle out which country language would be off use. Over the <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Emyn Laer[/I] hills learned <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] lay the land of <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Laergaladrin[/I] that was bordered in the north by a river coming from the southern <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Ered Duath[/I] mountains. The land above was named <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Ithilien[/I]. The names rang strange in his ears and he could speak them with much difficulty. <O:P></O:P>Edited by: Lady Aikári

  6. Lady Aikári's Avatar
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    #6

    <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">The Sangohyang tribe, Emyn Laer hills in middle Harondor<?: prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />[/B]

    <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B] and <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] had ended up with the local <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Sangohyang[/I] tribe. They were deep brown, almost reddish of hide due to the heat of the sun in these areas. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B] and <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] looked like a pair of angels in the middle of them with their fair light brown hide of their faces. Despite the weeks of travel, the sun had not burned them to red cooked crayfish. It was the use of their <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">sehadar[/I] and s<I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">hagur[/I], which they had not laid off while dismounting and entering the tent camp. Only they had removed the veils from their faces, because it would be considered impolite to remain covered among men. For women it was different. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B] passed through for his younger brother without suspicion. She answered through the signal language, as she didn’t speak the international language of <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Westron[/I]. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] did neither, but spoke another of the plains of<I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal"> Kajbah[/I] in the west of <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Khandur[/I]. The <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Sangohyang [/I]spoke a dialect of it that was spoken mainly in southeast <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Harondor[/I]. They communicated with some difficulty, but it was to do.

    <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] learned that he was being invited in the tent of the tribe leader <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Muhassad[/B]. With him were his three sons and an uncle of him. None of them wore any headdress, because here in the west it was lesser common. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Feinal[/B] was his eldest son, a rather good-looking young man who was in his early twenties. The second son was <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Harandar[/B], just about eighteen years old, and <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Hanizsad[/B] was the last one, just still deep in his teens. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B] sat right of him, just listening to the conversation, between <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] and the tribe leader <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Muhassad[/B]. The uncle sat just with them to watch the two youngest sons. They were allowed to be present, but nothing else further. All shades of blue were presented in this camp and tent, because they belonged with the <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Sangohyang[/I].

    <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Feinal[/B] was not really able to hide his curiosity about the <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">shagur. “It is remarkable to see a man dressed with such a shawl around the head. It is normal for women, but not for men among us.” [/I]<B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] was not insulted, there was no reason too. <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">“Part of my culture and it is a normal thing among the men in my tribe. We are not from these parts, but come from the east. Our hunting grounds are along the Ered Harmal mountain chain. I am Azumenúkha. It means people of Azumeh,” [/I]he told. From a dish he reached for roistered banana and ate it. It was a delicacy he never had, and <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B] allowed herself also to eat eagerly from the dish in the middle of them. It was customary among all the tribes in the southern hemisphere of Middle Earth to show you liked the offered food of your guest. The offering of food was a message of friendship. You never shared a meal with an enemy, nor offered you him drink or a sleeping place. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] arranged himself between the cushion, and set in the end upright with his legs crossed under him. <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">“I am sorry, but your appearance reminds me to the northern peoples from Gondor and beyond,” [/I]said <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Feinal [/B]curious. He received a sharp look from his father. “<I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Haven’t I taught you to be a real Sango? Enemy or friend, you never compare with another enemy. That is dangerous,” [/I]remarked <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Muhassad[/B]. Then he turned to <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B]. <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">“Curiosity and braveness are the virtues of young men. He is exploring the world around him, but men from distant lands we never meet really. You and your brother are a curiosity in these parts. Be careful.” [/I]<B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] nodded only at the words. There was truth in them. <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">“The Harmunekhad and Angashaghur are the two largest neighbouring tribes in Khandur, they drive the dangerous chariots and have their great horned mammals. We call them so, but they call themselves Variags or something. They visit often Aradhzúm in the west. The sands of Khandur bear many bones from throughout the ages of war.” [/I]<B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B] signalled something in the sign language. “<I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">My bro says it might that the Variags are planning something, I don’t know. Raids or battle perhaps.” [/I]<B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Muhassad[/B] raised his eyebrows. <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">“We shall see when they come. We know that the smoke over the mountain in the northeast is rising again. In that wild land is a corner that is festered with evil. Dangerous evil,” [/I]he said. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] looked aside to <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B], who signalled again. <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">“He agrees with you, over the Ered Caradhram is nothing.” [/I]
    <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">[/I]
    It was a cosy assembly together and it surpassed any expectations of <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B], who was still suspicious. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B] was accepted as being mute and thus relied on the sign language. Because neither could betray the status of <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B] both were offered a sleeping place in the men section of the tribe leader’s tent. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] knew that his sister felt not happy with it, but he would be with her and so protect her. For relief would present a solution in time. Among the desert peoples, nobody shared washing rituals together. But for both was time enough to take a bath in the small natural basin between the rocks, where the tribal leader had put his tent up. The basin was a private bath for the leader and his family. It was a luxury, yet a cold one. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida [/B]was happy with it. She went earlier sleeping than her brother went.

    The next morning bro and sis were dressed in different designs, but the same garb. It didn’t interest <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] what these people thought of the <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">shagur [/I]and the <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">shehada. [/I]His customs were different. The sun stood already quite high at the heavens and the <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">shagur [/I]gave him all shadow needed in the face, so the heat didn’t burn his hide. Beneath his robes, he had brown boots on and so only his hands remained bare. However, if necessary he could hide them inside the cloak. The <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">shehada [/I]covered also the weapons <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B] and he carried with them. They hadn’t come unarmed from the lands of <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Khandur[/I]. It seemed one tangle with the robes to carry weapons under, but for <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] it was not. As any other man he could draw his sword quickly and let it come down on some head. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B] came with him when they left the tent of the tribal leader to follow him to the section where the man’s pride was kept, his horses. They had to be admired by his guests. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B] followed in silence her brother and just listened to what <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Muhassad[/B] told about the fair blood of his horses. “<I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">This is honour. These animals belong in the desert. For they are born of the south wind and thus priceless. They are a gift from the Gods,” [/I]the man said with a broad smile. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B] signalled if she was permitted to try one of the horses.

    <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Muhassad[/B] was in a cheerful mood and motioned to her to try. So <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Nieda[/B] neared one and climbed on its back without saddle or reigns. As an amazon she had in no time the horse in gallop without falling off. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Muhassad[/B] was surprised and looked at <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B]. “<I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">My brother is an excellent rider. Better than I am on horseback. And no I will not try it,” [/I]said <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] nodding, when <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Muhassad[/B] also motioned to try. Some moments later <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B] joined them again and smiled thankful. “<I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">You have horses where you come from?” [/I]asked <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Muhassad[/B] curious.<I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal"> “Yes, we have,” [/I]confirmed <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B], keeping an eye on his surroundings. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B] surrendered the horse back to the tribal leader and stood just a little after her brother. She kept watching the horses, enjoying the sight of the magnificent herd, kept in a closed valley. <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">“Like these as I have. Our forefathers brought them from the north,” [/I]said <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Muhassad[/B]. <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">“Yes, I have blood of the Gondorians in me, but that is generations ago.” “I see, Gondor?” [/I]asked <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan [/B]with a frown. <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">“Is that a land?” “Yes, it is a magnificent green land. According the legends there was once an island far in the west where their ancestors lived.” [/I]<B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] shook his head. <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">“I have never heard of that land, or about an island. There is the Fire Sea in the west, but no island. There is nothing in the west.” [/I]He turned away from the tribe leader and walked down the path leading to this gorge. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Muhassad[/B] followed him, as well, <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B] came. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] was a bit troubled by the words of the tribe leader. He didn’t like it what was told. But then he had never been here and news from these areas didn’t ravel to far inland, all the way to the <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Ered Harmal[/I] mountains and even beyond. And if there had been an island so long ago, how could the ancestors of this tribe than passed the Fire Sea? <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Muhassad[/B] caught easy up with him. <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">“I am sorry; I had assumed that the tribes of the east knew. We sailed a lot of times upon Gondor to conquer it. As well Gondorians Kings came to here to claim these lands. At least to the border of the Harnen. Tirith Amrûn is the last defence of our land on the crossroad from a northern river.” “Yes, we came by it on our route to the west. The green river delta of Haruzan. We call the Harnen, Muzeida. She starts deep in our lands, and gives life to what otherwise would be as the Ered Caradhram in the north,” [/I]said <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] walking on back to the tents. <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">“Yes, she is a river admired and feared by us,” [/I]replied <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Muhassad[/B] with a nod and vanished into his tent.

  7. Lady Aikári's Avatar
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    #7

    <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Off to the slopes of Ephel Duath... <?: prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />[/B]

    The next morning when the sun rose over the mountains in the east <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B] and <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] prepared to leave and continue their journey through strange lands. They had no particular goal to go, they just travelled. Young men and women among the <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Azumenúkhad [/I]could choose that, instead of marrying right away after reaching majority. It was an uncommon thing to marry at a later age with some life experience behind the teeth on the plains of <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Khandur[/I]. But the <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Azumenúkhad [/I]were in many things unlike their neighbouring tribes. And they were the only one coming from the eastern plains of <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Rhûnaur[/I] and beyond. Many of the ancient ways had somehow survived among them. The <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Azumenúkhad [/I]weapons were literally born from the sands. In the sands near the <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Ered Harmal[/I] was stored a lot of iron and the burned wood provided coal. The smiths among the <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Azumenúkhad [/I]kept secret how they processed the metal and from that the weapons. It was by their <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">zamirah[/I] and <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">tagashur [/I]that the tribe had know to survive without superior rule from the <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Harmunekhad [/I]and <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Angashaghur. [/I]A <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">zamira [/I]was a long sword and carried in the belt. The <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">tagashur[/I] was a short sword and carried on the back. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B] had a <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">tagashur[/I], a knife and a bow with her. Bow and quiver hang usual at her saddle on her <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Azumeh[/I]. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] owned both a <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">zamirah[/I] and a <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">tagashur[/I].

    In the night, <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B] had insisted sudden that she wanted to see the land of Gondor. They said both goodbye to the <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Sangohyang[/I] tribe and rode east again to find the road in this land of sand and rocks. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B] had one wish and that was to see the green grass fields of <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Laergaladrin[/I], but first they had to leave the <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Emyn Laer[/I] hills behind them and still they stretched like some wall all the way to the mountains of <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Ered Duath[/I]. It took them about four days to reach the road from the south and another three days before they would reach the hills themselves. Along the road to the north, <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] and <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B] passed a deserted and destroyed fortress, where they spent the night in safety. The water well was still intact and the <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Azumeh[/I] drank liters from it. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B] remained with the animals, while <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] walked through the ruins for human company. He just wanted to know if there were raiders hidden, or other threats. What had been a fortress were a field of half a wall and the fundaments of buildings. Grass grew rich everywhere between the fallen blocks of stone. Some streets were still quite intact, but either small bushes had overgrown most of the ruins. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] had to be careful to place his feet on the ground and avoid the stone blocks. The sky was clouded, but the there was no rain coming. Perhaps more to the north.

    <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] had seen more ruins of former civilization in his life. In the lands of <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Khandur[/I] were many abandoned towns of long ago, when the climate perhaps had been milder than it was now. The sands of the plains hid many things. And only the historians of the tribe knew it all, as they had scribed it down past all the ages and kept these scrolls safely hidden. The scrolls of history were the most precious possession of the <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Azumenúkhad [/I]tribe. And in the scrolls were written many facts. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] returned to his sister and the <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Azumehda[/I] knowing the ruins were safe to stay. In the whole vicinity was no living creature to be found. So for this night both could have a good sleep. He slept tight and awoke yet before dusk, while the first rays of the sun lightened up the sky in the east over the mountains. Yet over the mountains hang thick dark clouds, which seemed to be as tight as a thick door and the wind would not even remove them. With a frown on his face, he looked at the distant cloud deck and the sunrays coming over them. He knew it was not natural, but wizarded by the evil lurked in the land over the mountains. There was no wind now, just the silence of a land still asleep from the night. Slowly nature woke up and birds began to sing their morning songs. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] always loved these moments of the early morning. Lazy he stretched his arms under his head and lifted his head a bit. It was somehow peaceful, telling an ancient tale that lingered in his blood.

    <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B] had woken up also and dreamy she stared to the heavens above her. She liked the twinkling of the stars against the blue and red colours of the sunrise. <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">“Bro, what would be up there? Would we be able to walk between the stars? Touch them?” [/I]Her voice was soft, not so far from him. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] looked aside, noticing how <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B] still watched the sky. <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">“I have no idea, sis. I guess it is such a fireplace as the Fire Sea is. The stars loose it against the sun. They are born again in the evening...” [/I]answered he back to her and then fell silent. The stars weakened quickly now, and would soon gone again. The night and day were strange happenings. But <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B], despite all mysteries, was glad it was day again. The night hid many dangers. Inside a hour both were ready and on the road again toward the northeast. The <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Harondor[/I] road went slight toward the northeast, toward the mountains. Over the <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Emyn Laer[/I] the land went truly green and the <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Azumehda [/I]stopped to graze. It was the first delicious meal in a little while for them. It was a full day toward the river running from the east to the west and coming into a large delta. <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Tir Ethraid[/I] was the border place to the south and heavily guarded. The fabled lands of Gondor began here.

    First to begin with <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Tir Ethraid [/I]was city on crossroads and therefore of a very mixed population. Here met the north and the south under the watchful eye of the Gondorians authorities. The same eye was also directed toward the mountains in the east, which were not far off here. The dark cloud cover from over the mountain range hung challenging there, waiting on the unspoken words to go west and so cover the sky for always. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] and <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B] in their anonymous garb belonged to the southern coming here. And thus most likely enemies. Neida felt almost immediately at home here, as she saw women walk freely around here, their hair and faces uncovered by <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">shagur. [/I]<B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B] uncovered her face as well and breathed the fresh air deeply in. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] rather kept his anonymity and did not. Their <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Azumehda[/I] were curiosity here, animals most Gondorians had not seen before. <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Tir Ethraid[/I] was a new world to both of them.

    At the entrance of the gate both were allowed to go into the city, after having declared not to have come with war intentions. They used the sign language, which was understood here as well, for neither understood Gondorian of one of the western languages of <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Harondor[/I]. Languages from the plains of <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Kajbah[/I] were neither understood here. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B] knew she had not to be afraid here as woman. It was unlike she had known, and yet curious what would there be more up to the north, how rich the land was. And what there was over the delta on the other side. It was open land and she could see the other side well. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] rode up front guiding his <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Azumeh[/I] through the streets. It was quite narrow and his animal was anxious. He felt it by the tension in the neck. He decides to stop at an inn, where there was an inner place for animals to be housed. It lay not so far from the south gate, and perhaps was just for southern who travelled by <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Azumeh[/I]. The inner place was deserted, except for a few horses in the stables. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] dismounted, as <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B] did as well. He brought both animals safely under in the stable, where they would be dry and well fed with grass and grains. Bro and sis took their saddlebags with them and entered the inn through the main door. The open chamber was empty, except for two people covered themselves in robes and enjoying ales in front of them. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B] nor <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] paid attention to them and walked toward the back of the chamber, where the stairs lay to the first floor, as well was a hallway to the guest chambers on the main floor. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida [/B]wanted a room on the main floor. She found the woman who ran the inn. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] could not dismiss the feeling of being watched when he had passed the two figures at the table. He held in his pace and looked over his left shoulder, discovering that indeed the man turned toward him followed him and his sister. From under the hood of the cloak stared two sea blue eyes back. There was something strange about this figure, but what it was, he didn’t know. Neither could he explain the bunch of suspicious feelings he felt going through him. He walked on and acceded to join his sister. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B] had arranged a room with the female proprietor. She had received a key. Ten minutes later both had installed themselves a room with two beds on either side and a free window on a garden behind the inn.

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    <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">The city of Tir Ethraid ~ the inn<?: prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />[/B]

    <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B] changed herself into simple dress, a tunic over it tied together by a belt and swept a cloak over her shoulders. She wanted to go into town and make a visit to the market, and expressed that she didn’t want <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] to come with her for protection. He didn’t agree with it, but let his stubborn sister go. He knew he could not always be at her side, and she could also defend herself when in trouble. She took her knife and short sword with her. Happy she left the inn and went off toward the market. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] made use of the time to take a long bath. He was dirty of the road and hated it to be dirty. Bathed and clothed again, he felt much better. For the rest of the midday he spent sitting on his bed in the light of the sun repairing clothes with needle and thread. It was a dull work, but some things he rather didn’t want his sister to do. Dressed in cool silken garb he looked like a lost prince. The heat in <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Khandur[/I] required cool and light materials. Wool and velvet were for the cold nights. The <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Azumenúkhad [/I]had all sorts of materials they made with care and love. Wool and cotton was the same for them as velvet, silk and brocade, they saw no special values in materials. Though the neighbouring tribes attacked them regularly just for these riches.

    At the end of the midday, <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B] came back with delicious fruits from the market. She brought two melons, strawberries and blueberries and bread with her. She bought as well a few nice materials where she wanted to make new dresses from, and cotton for underclothes. She was excellent with needle, thread and scissor. She remained at her the guest chamber; meanwhile <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] went off to the kitchen and washed the strawberries. They would have bread with strawberries for the evening meal. After dinner on their chamber, <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] went to the main room to sit there for a while, have a beer and perhaps talk to someone, if the occasion allowed it. Over his clothes, he wore his travel cloak; as well, he had a <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">shagur[/I] wrapped around his head and neck to cover his hair. He was in a public place, not private. He felt more comfortable with one. One of the two men he had been when arriving at this inn sat also in the main chamber, and looked up again when <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] searched a table for himself. He slid behind one, knowing he was being watched, but why?

    Most of the tables were occupied now by the local townsmen and –women resting after a day full of work. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] bowed his head and drank slowly from his ale, letting the draught roll over his tongue before swallowing it. It was not bad ale, but he had tasted better in the past. The torches at the walls spread neither a cosy nor an eerie light around. The smoke from cigars and pipes hang heavy in the main chamber. He sat with his back to a wall, out of principle. You never knew if people had good or bad intensions. He didn’t have to watch his back this way. He saw strangers also between the local folk, travellers from the long road, like him. They came from countries far away, lands he didn’t know, cultures he had never known off. Everyone just kept to himself, keeping an eye on the other around him or her. No darkness laid yet over this place, but evil creatures like Orcs were not far off. Some of the guests were rough, the others were delicate. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] found it difficult to determine where they exact came from than otherwise north, south, and east or west. He enjoyed his ale, while he studied careful the local folk of <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Tir Ethraid[/I]. They had both Gondorian as Umbarians ancestors, determined from their facial features.

    Sudden the man, who had been watching his since his arrival, stood next of him with two fresh ales in his hand. <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">“Can I offer one to you?” [/I]It would be rude to say no, so <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] motioned the man to sit down. He accepted the ale, but let it stand in front of him. He had his own ale still. <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">“You are a particular man, sir. Conscious of the surroundings, like me. I must inquire. Are you one of us?” [/I]<B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] raised an eyebrow, but didn’t reply directly. Instead he took a sip from his ale and placed the mug softly back on the table, holding it. <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">“Who are you, if I may ask?” [/I]said <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] quiet. The man moved the hood of his cape slight backwards. <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">“I am Celegur.” [/I]<B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] nodded slowly, studying the blue eyes of the man for treachery, but saw none. <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">“I am Leídan called,” [/I]he answered. <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">“And if I were a member of your people, I would have known it.” [/I]He leaned back in his chair and his eyes wandered restless through the chamber, before coming back to the man <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Celegur[/B]. The question was strange, as well why he just sat with him. Celegur was no name from the south, but from the north, or from the nearby lands here. Etymology was a hobby of <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B], to find out where names came from. Then the man spoke as well an old tongue from the ancient lands, one that was related to the <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Azumenúkhad [/I]tribal language. But <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Celegur[/B] seemed not to be from the southeast at all. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] had a head full of questions sudden, but asked none of them. Time would tell him all he needed to know.

    <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">“Sir, you carry a name from the ancient times, that is remarkable,” [/I]said <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Celegur[/B] with a glistering in his eyes. A bit annoyed <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] nodded and looked away. <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">“Yes, I know. What is your interest, sir? Otherwise I retire to my room.” [/I]<B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Celegur[/B] smiled. <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">“Forgive my impudence, I have my reasons.” [/I]He nodded with his head, and said no more. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] stood up and took his ale with him, ignoring the pull of beer <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Celegur[/B] had given him. The man was no friend or foe, but he trusted a little people outside the family. The strange meeting played for a while in his head. He used the key to enter the room he and <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B] shared, and noticed that his sister was asleep already. He concluded that the hour was later than he thought. He locked the room, controlled the window if it was closed as well, and then retired self to bed. He closed his eyes and ventured off to dreamland.

  9. Lady Aikári's Avatar
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    <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">The city of Tir Ethraid ~ the library [/B]<?: prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />

    The town was a discovery on itself. There were a library and a hospital and an endless diversity of shops. What you liked, you could get it here on the crossroad of north and south. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B] went again now off to the shops and buying herself small gifts, things meant for women. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] instead went toward the library, to pay a visit and see what was stored there at scripts and books. Despite what perhaps was expected from a man of the desert, he could read and write, but never told that to anyone. It was a normal thing among the <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Azumenúkhad [/I]to learn at young age, but outside the tribe reading and writing was rare ability in the desert. Therefore, he caused a sensation for the local visitors in the library, as well for the librarians themselves too. Men in <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">sehada [/I]and <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">shagur [/I]never visited the library. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] ignored the looks thrown at him, as well the small whispers in the local language he didn’t understand. He went toward the chart department and settled there at a table, studying through the map lying there around. The script was familiar and the names of places, cities and lands were easily to translate. So much, it didn’t differ from the ancient language of the tribe. According the historians of the <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Azumenúkhad [/I]about six thousand years had passed since they had come from <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Hildorawar [/I]in the east. And then were there the tales of the really old times, times of just darkness and stars, times of that was no sun yet, risen in the east. How his people really came by all these tales and mysteries was a mystery itself. And why would a man like <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Celegur[/B] come to him, and tell him they were somehow brothers?

    <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] sat bowed over the chart, studying a land called Rohan and the great of wood of Fangorn above. Woods lay as well at the foot of the <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Ered Harmal[/I] where his homelands were. The land was a rich of forests, all carrying such strange names that he knew no translation for them. However, the names said him nothing, nor would the lands laying there. He knew at least on the map where they were now, and he knew also how they had travelled to this place of the crossroad. On a piece of paper, he made some notes for home, and the historians there. They would be enormous interested in these materials. He took no maps with him. Perhaps he was able to buy one in some store somewhere in this fortified city. When he had his information and was ready to leave the department, he ran almost into <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Celegur[/B] who came in at that moment. Perplexed <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] apologised first not recognising the man, but when the man said something back, he recognised the voice and stopped instantly, looking behind. What would the man be doing here, or was he being shadowed?

    <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] returned to the inn, knowing he had to consult his sister, if she had seen strange things. But <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B] was not back when he came in their room and closed the door behind him. Impatient he waited till noon. Merry she came back with some packs and with blushes on her cheeks, <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B] said hello to him and asked how his morning had been. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] shook his head and inquired just if she had seen strange people following her where she went. But surprised she shook her head. Then <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] told her what happened last night in the main chamber downstairs and this morning in the library. By the time, he had finished his story <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B] didn’t smile anymore and on her face lay a frown. <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">“This Celegur must be mad. I guess it would be better to leave tomorrow in the early hours and go back home,” [/I]she observed. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] agreed. <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">“I am not sure though if he would follow us.” “Then we would know in the desert, he won’t come far without knowing the right routes there. I guess you want to take the mountain route, not by the rivers?” [/I]<B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] nodded. <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">“Along the Ered Dúath and the Ered Caradhram. It is dangerous I know, but we know the routes there, strangers do not.” [/I]<B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B] smiled and nodded.

    As decided, they left in the early morning with their <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Azumehda[/I] the city of <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Tir Ethraid[/I]. The gifts <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B] bought were divided between them both to share the load. An <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Azumeh [/I]could carry much, but both rode their animals as well. They travelled the same way back toward the ruins where they had stayed more two weeks earlier. After the ruins they left the road toward the east following the range of of hilltops of the <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Emyn Laer [/I]to the east, holding the course to the point where the <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Ered Duath[/I] and the <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Ered Caradhram[/I] would meet. <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Bar Malduin[/I] and <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Imlad Carnen[/I] lay on that route. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] and <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B] followed that route, alone and in anonymity, protected by their <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">shagur[/I] and their <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">sehadur[/I] clothing.

  10. Lady Aikári's Avatar
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    #10

    <DIV marginheight="1" marginwidth="1" topmargin="1" leftmargin="1" ="WebWizRTE">
    <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">The shadows of the Ered Duath[/B]<?: prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" /><O:P></O:P>
    <O:P></O:P>
    It was grey lifeless land out here. The green grass sea of <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Laergaladrin[/I] laid miles behind them as well the green hills of <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Emyn Laer[/I] in the west. By the second week after the leaving <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Tir Ethraid[/I] <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B] didn’t feel well and wanted a few days of rest. The reason for her illness was female and <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] knew about it. He said nothing, just nodded, that they would keep a few days rest, before she felt better again. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B] felt sick and was glad to lie down on her bed to sleep a long night. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] had sought a safe place between the rocks, where also bushes were and a small river they could make use off. His mother had taught him and his brother all the troubles women usually suffered from in a month. She had wanted that the brothers had respect for their sisters, as nature seemed sometimes not so gentle on them. However, the other way around there were also a few things for him, where nature made it not easy. He had discovered later that <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B] had known as much about men and their natural troubles, as he knew about women. So, <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] concluded that their mother had also instructed her daughters in the ways of the world. Bro and sis knew everything what came looking when a marriage took place. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] was not sure yet if he wanted ever to marry, but then he was young still. His adolescent years just lay behind him. For <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B] it was the same. Among the <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Azumenúkhad[/I] was no particular age to marry. Enough men and women never married and devoted their lives in other ways in use to the survival of the tribe. <O:P></O:P>
    <O:P></O:P>
    <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] was quite gentle in his manners, taken after an admiration for his mother. It was a bit unusual for a son to have a strong bond with his mother. She had helped him through most of his growing up troubles in his puberty years. Qua character, he looked the most at her. His sister <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B] was a mix of her mother and sister, and so didn’t look in character much after either of them. His father had a different character. He had a typical male attitude that attributed to his renown in the tribe. A man had to be brave and ought to have valour. His father had both qualities and he was extrovert. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] was like his mother introvert. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B] was extrovert in character and always took part in a conversation if there was one in her family. Now on the journey it was often her, who started a conversation. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] didn’t mind, he was used to it. <O:P></O:P>
    <O:P></O:P>
    The next morning soon <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B] was awake, <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] informed her that he would be going into the hills on foot and see how the surroundings were and if close were any dangers they didn’t know yet about. She was not happy she would be alone, but also <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B] knew that reconnaissance was needed now they remained in one place for a few days. They had to stay cautious. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] took off taking his sword and bow with him. They were not far from <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Bar Malduin[/I]. The city fortress lay at a small river coming from the mountains and was called <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Malduin[/I]. It lay at the end of the southern slope of the hills. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] travelled a few hours, moving silently through the rocks, before he found an excellent viewpoint from where he could see <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Bar Malduin[/I]. It was a pirate city. He nestled himself on the ground. Around him were low bushes, which protected him from being seen if one stood on one of the nearby rocks. The ground was soft by the green vegetation growing here. On his belly, <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] leaned on his arms and watched the traffic coming from the city. He saw carts pulled forth by oxen; he saw goats in quite large herd guarded by dogs and young boys, dressed in loose dull robes. He saw riders on horseback returning to the city having a few captives with them, bound on horseback. There hang a woman around quite poor dressed, and what <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] found scandalous. Men nor women had bare arms or legs in these parts. Orcs were not around here, but these people were as dangerous as Orcs. They valued nothing, except their own families and what beheld value. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] left the viewpoint as he had come, and went more to the east. Farmers lived in small cottages on the riverbank. Anglers lived here as well. Both groups went daily to the market in <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Bar Malduin[/I] to sell their products. By the end of the midday, he returned to the camp deep in the hills northeast of the city. <O:P></O:P>
    <O:P></O:P>
    <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B] had spent the day with washing clothes and letting them dry in the sun. She had set also some traps for small wild and so had two rabbits for dinner. She had cleaned both of them. Except the organs she used mostly of the animals, the hides she could make later things from, the bones were pulverized into powder and saved in a jar from later medical use of some sort. The meat was enough for the evening meal. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] returned before dark fell and the world reduced to a small fire. He told her what he had seen. Soon after dinner, the fire was put down by placing a flat stone over it. It would not be wise to leave it on, as light was a good signal in the intensifying dark and betrayed easily their hidden position for praying eyes. Orcs travelled sure in the night through the hills. Both slept safe through the night, but in the early morning hours both awoke of frightened bird squeaks. The fire was for hours. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan [/B]stood up immediately, reaching for his weapons, <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B] followed him ready to fight as well. They left the camp and their <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Azumehda[/I] safely in the small ravine and went on the hunt what had disturbed the birds in the trees. At the slope of the next hill both saw a small patrol of three Orcs scurrying between the bushes. They grunted loudly in the language of Mordor. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] and <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida [/B]took no risks and shot their arrows away in unison, killing the three Orcs in a matter of seconds. Then they came from their safeplace and checked the Orcs on strange things. One of them carried a bag. <O:P></O:P>
    <O:P></O:P>
    <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B] took care over the bag and held it upside down so everything fell out of it on the rocks. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] knelt down the mess and poked with a knife through the rubble. Some nice crystals were among them and he picked them up. He gave them to his sister. <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">“What these creatures with them?” [/I]she asked in nothing particular. <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">“They like niceties, things that shine,” [/I]she answered her own question. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] said nothing and looked at buttons. <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">“Those are for a jacket,” [/I]pointed <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B]. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] shook them in his hand and let them fall among the rubble. They were worthless, but perhaps the Orcs wanted them for something. They reused things if they came in need or were handy. They wore clothes as well. On the Orcs were only weapons found. They had no food with them. <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">“They came from close. Somewhere between these hills must be some underground entrance. The mountains are miles from here to the east,” [/I]said <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] in thoughts. <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">“The Orcs were on patrol, not on travel.” [/I]This small kind lived only under the clouds, and during the night. If the sun would come through, they would not survive. He stood up and scanned around the surrounding hills. There was nothing to see, except for bushes and rocks everywhere. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] removed the arrows from the bodies and arranged the bodies so they it looked if the Orcs had quarrelled. He stuck their weapons in each other’s bodies. After finishing the last touch, they left the scene and returned to their camp. An hour later they were on the road, travelling on. Orcs were able to find their trail if they figured out the scene was foiled. <O:P></O:P>Edited by: Lady Aikári

  11. Lady Aikári's Avatar
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    <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">The land of the east march<?: prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />[/B]

    They left the hills range travelling east bound to pass over the first northern arm of the <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Malduin[/I], and then rode in almost a straight line toward the south keeping the two large hills at their left side, and passed then the southern arm of the <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Malduin[/I]. They came into a rather dry land, which stretched to the southwest into a savannah. It was about a day’s ride to reach the third river <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Carnen,[/I] that westbound ended into the <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Malduin[/I]. The passed it in the night miles east and avoiding so the city of <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Imlad Carnen[/I]. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] and <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B] entered the land of the east march, where nothing grew or lived. They followed the hills at their left side, leading their <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Azumehda[/I] through nearly desert land. The last mountains of the <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Ered Duath[/I] seemed also closer by and spread unconscious their shadows over this land. The hills ended with cliffs to a flat desert land in the southwest and western direction. Quick sands were innumerable there, hidden and unexpected. It was impossible to crisscross that land from northwest, straight to the southwest. Two times a sandstorm surprised brother and sister and they sought shelter between the rocks with their <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Azumehda[/I]. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B]’s and <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B]’s <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">shagur[/I] protected them now again the whirling sands. They sat next their <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Azumehda[/I] who laid flat on the ground as well, their heads also covered with large cloths. The animals knew where it was all for.

    It was evening when the storm began to lay down. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] was stiff from sitting on the ground and keeping all the cloths in place against the harsh winds. Though protected between the rocks against the winds, a lot of sand had been blows into the rock formation, and had half buried him and <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B] and their <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Azumehda[/I]. Grim and tired <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] shook the robes loose and moved the sand away from him. His <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Azumeh[/I] arose and shook herself free of the sand. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B] had taken off her <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">shehada[/I] and <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">shagur[/I], and shook as well all clothes out of the sand. Wonder well the sand had not gotten into her normal clothing as her hair, eyes or mouth. She had been hidden behind <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] with her <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Azumeh[/I], and her riding wonder had neither suffered much from the storm. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] climbed the rock where they had hid behind and wandered toward the end that faced into the western direction. He had an excellent view over the sand dune land that stretched for endless miles out for him. The sun had gone down and coloured the sky from red to deep purple and soon it would be dark. The sky had cleared fully and he could see the northern star already clear against the sky. In the wide area, he saw no living soul. He turned around to see over the nearby hills that stuck out the sand.

    The night was cold and dry. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] and <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B] knew nothing else really; it was the same in their ancestral lands. The desert was cold by night and hot by day. The white peoples from the north would not feel comfortable with the large difference in temperatures. This time they had no watercourse nearby, so they had to preserve the water they had. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B] knew a method to distract water damp from the cold air and in the morning, they had quite much, which they could drink. They would have to follow the hills range toward the east and to the south, continuing through the sand. There was no green around here, and no watercourse be found. Their <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Azumehda[/I] didn’t get anything to drink. After the morning soon, they went on journeying to the east the wind returned strong and changed the sand dunes again. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B] rode this time front and concentrated on the position of the sun and in the evening on the stars. During the midday when the sun stood on the highest point bro and sis rested in the shadows of the rocks. It had become simply too hot to travel, even for their <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Azumehda[/I]. The desert laws were different from in the north of Harendor, near the Emyn Laer hills, where the climate was mild to more mediterranean.

    Between the hills and rocks, they discovered an ancient ruin of what once, long ago, a city or a fort. A little stood still, just a few wall, but most was loose stones spread everywhere, and eaten by the storm winds of the desert. Usual with these ancient settlements a course to water still existed. Their <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Azumehda[/I] knew automatically where it was and thus <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B] and <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] allowed them to find their own way to the water. It was hidden in a secret cave, and it was an underground lake. Both jumped there on the ground and all four drank from the heaven waters. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B] filled their water bottles and water sacks. After having been drinking <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] took up the task to guard the entrance to the cave in case neighbouring people found it they were here. He had no idea if they would be seen as friends or as enemies. Drinking from each other’s watercourses was a risk as most belonged to some tribe. But <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B]’s knowledge didn’t go so far he knew it is in this region. It was cool in the cave.

    When the night came and nobody appear from the outside that they had been seen entering this land, <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B] and <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] made a fire deeper in the cave so they had light. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B] cooked water to wash clothes and <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] helped to wring them out and spread them out to dry on the rocks. After the wash, they had a simple dinner and then they settled down for the night. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B] slept tight, but <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] light, because he felt not quite safe. Both awoke soon the sun came up and light appear in the entrance of the cave. There was no danger, no living soul. And <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] soon he was ready with dinner and refreshing himself, he took a torch with him and began to explore the cave. He left his sister with the camp. Soon he had make a turn in the cave, a corner to the right he found a large chamber where more ruins were, probably belonging to the ruined city outside. This was in a better state, as it had not suffered by the sand storms of the desert. Yet as <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] tried an ancient street and peeked in the first house of just three chambers, he saw that there was nothing anymore. No furniture, no wood or doors, or remains from pots, pans, clothes or even humans. It must have been inhabited at least before the Dark Lord settled in the land of Mordor. Perhaps it had been a settlement to some tribe now forgotten. Or to a people who died out in time? On one of the walls, <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] discovered ancient drawings. He studied the archaic drawings of men and women in marriage scenes, men on the hunt with spears and stone knives, figures of women and children, drawings of what must have been gods and divine animals. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B] came also looking with a torch in her hand, and she studied as well the drawings. Except for the drawings on the wal, there was nothing left what could indicate who had lived here?

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    <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">The ancient drawings in a cave<?: prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />[/B]
    <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">[/B]
    <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B] and <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] returned to their camp where their <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Azumehda[/I] were sleeping. It was near noon and outside the cave, the sun was burning again. Here inside in the half dark it was still cool, also through the ice-cold water of the underground lake. <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">“It is not hard to imagine how people really lived here, the temperature is better here than outside,” [/I]said <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B] while she was repairing one of her blouses. With tiny stitches, she weaved the left seam together. She had learned that from her mother and her older sister <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Lysia[/B]. <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">“Yes, but who lived here really?” [/I]wondered <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B], looking up from the knife, where he was cleaning his fingernails with. <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">“That is the question, huh?” [/I]smiled <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B] at him, knowing her brother really wanted to know that. <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">“Asking around is not an option.” “The tribes now living here are nomads. They are descendants of the Tedjin Nomads. They come from Haradwar, the land below the Muzeida. The Sangohyang descend from them, so also our neighbours of the north, the Harmunekhad and the Angashaghur, and so many others. They all have deep brown skins and dark eyes, unlike us. Here did live another strain of men,” [/I]said <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] thoughtful. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B] knotted the thread off at the end and bit through it. <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">“Why would you think that?” [/I]<B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] stood up and walked back with a torch to the second chamber and the wall with drawings. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B] stood up as well and followed him. Her brother pointed toward the drawings. <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">“Look closer, what the scenes of men and women, the animals, the vegetation, the divine gods….. Nothing indicates they have been from Haradwar. This land has not always been sand and rocks, but as Laergaladrin, rich grasslands.” [/I]<B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B]’s finger rested near a woman figure kneeling in grass for a divine god. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B] frowned as she watched the scene on the wall. <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">“Is she really human, or something else? We never see the gods, we know they are there… only being closer to them, would see them,” [/I]she said.

    <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] frowned deeply as he held the torch light over another scene of a man with a child in his arms. Also he was facing a divine god. Why would really be this put on the wall? What displayed these scenes really? What did they tell? The mystery intrigued him. <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">“We have those ugly Muzimi from over the mountains and they are not human,” [/I]continued <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B], when <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] didn’t answer her. He looked at her. <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">“Another race, you mean. It could be,” [/I]he said doubtful. <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">“Though it would be interesting to know who they were, and what their culture was.” [/I]<B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B] laughed softly, so it echoed not in the cave. <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">“There is no book or scroll that can tell us that,” [/I]she said. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] moved a hand over his chin and shook his head. <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">“No, not out here. All the cities and forts here are from a later date. This is really ancient…” [/I]He moved around and then realized something. <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">“I saw no graveyard. Would there perhaps been a place where they cremated their dead?” [/I]<B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B] raised her eyebrows. <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">“How so,” [/I]she asked puzzled. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] nodded excited: <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">“You know Tir Ethraid and Sturlurtsa? Tir Ethraid had a graveyard and Sturlurtsa has a crematorium. This settlement should have had one too.” [/I]Neida nodded at his reasoning. <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">“Of course. But where?” “Fire and flames? Outside off course,” [/I]grinned <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] and returned with her to their camp. Cremations never took place in a living area, but in the open air.

    The next morning at a very early hour, just after sunrise <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B] and <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] explored the surrounding hills for more evidence of habitation. The ruins nearby told them there had been a pottery, a baking place and a smithy. They found also minor potsherd and fragments of glass. It was all bleak, if it had any colour long ago, it was lost. Brother and sister explored more as long the sun allowed in this place. There had been a worship place, but they found no graveyard. The altar was two resting stones; the plate lay broken in five parts on the ground. More there was not. They felt quite dismayed so little was found, but with this information, they returned the second half of the morning back to the cave, where they spent the noon in silence. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B] continued her needlework; <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] spent his time of cleaning and controlling the condition of all their weapons. Eventually they would face a fight.

    It was unsure either humans had lived here, or some other kind. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] was not complete unaware of more kinds living in this world, other than humans. He knew about the <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Muzimi[/I] over the mountains in the north. Who they really were and where they came from, was also a mystery itself. They were lovers of the night, and dark clouded days. When the sun shone, you saw them nowhere. Perhaps in some northern city there were scrolls, but he fairly doubted that. He had an idea that this city lived when none of the lands existed. He estimated it had to be over 6000 years old or even more. After noon, deeper in the midday, <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] and <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B] packed their belongings together and set themselves with their <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Azumehda[/I] on the road again. They bowed off now toward the east, going through the hills and so taking the bridge of <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Kupsha[/I] to reach the city on the other side of the mountain river. A large wall to keep the city <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Kupsha[/I] safe from the <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Muzimi[/I] in the mountains shielded off the land between the two rivers. The next evening they crossed without problems into the city of <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Kupsha[/I].

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    #13

    <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Entering the lands of Chelkar<?: prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />[/B]
    <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">[/B]
    <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Kupsha[/I] was more a fort than a city or a village. Strong high walls protected at least for five centuries the houses build inside it, and to the south was a large square where nearly every day a local market was, and where you could get anything. Most people living here were just townsfolk, not warriors. The fort counted about five hundred living souls, including the guard on the walls and the family of the prince. Children ran free through the streets, teenagers were sent out to the river to fill up the water supply for the day. Women covered in robes went to the market for their daily shopping, and the men cared for the goats grazing in the grass fields outside the walls. Also the fort had yards full of orange trees. In other words, a little human paradise that prospered under the dark thread of the <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Ered Caradhram[/I]. Travellers with friendly purposes were welcome, but anyone was checked at the gates. Name and business was asked. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] answered for <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B], who played his brother again, that could not speak. She could easy pass for a younger brother still.

    Their <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Azumehda[/I] were normal animals of transport in these lands, so no strange looks were thrown to them, as had happened in <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Tir Ethraid[/I]. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] found a friendly inn with a stall, where their animals could be brought under for the duration of the stay. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B] and he shared a chamber again, as they had done in <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Tir Ethraid[/I]. In the chamber, she was safe and she could be just herself. It had two separate beds, and a window. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B] liked a window, because with daylight she could do easier repairs to clothes than with candle light. It was simple yet luxurious, as the inn had also a possibility to take a hot bath and a visit in the sweat cabin (ancient version of a sauna). To cover <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B]’s real identity <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] booked the bath and sweat cabin for an hour for themselves. The innkeeper respected that, taking immediately that both brothers travelled incognito, but were of important and high birth. The name of <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Anzawar[/B] was not very unfamiliar in these parts.

    After the bath and sweat cabin both had like soft baby skins again. Sweating and bathing cleaned all dirt out of your body and kept the hide young and healthy. The <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Azumenúkhad [/I]knew a few things to help the myth of fair people living in the east. Good health of mind and body was a reason why members of the <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Azumenúkhad [/I]tribe lived to a blessed age, and so often saw grandchildren be married before closing their eyes forever. Becoming nearly ninety or hundred years was not uncommon. <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Kupsha[/I] offered even a theatre performance a love story about merchant and a fisher’s daughter. The fisher’s daughter fell in love with the merchant and wanted to marry him, but her father didn’t want to hear about it. The end ended not happily, the daughter poisoned herself and died, leaving her lover and her father in grief behind. All was in mimic acted. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] and <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida [/B]visited as well. The next morning both bought on the local market more than two kilograms of oranges, and consumed quite much of them during the day. The next one they took another three kilos with them for the road to the south. They had to follow the river to the south, because a high wall protected them being <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Muzimi[/I] raids from the mountains. The land was festered with evil. The river delta was not. <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Oud Ilaz[/I] lay at the end of the wall. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] was not yet sure whether to travel further south toward the city of <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Tirith Amrûn[/I] or take the road east <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Korb Chelkar[/I] and <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Gizar[/I]. First, they had to travel safely southwards.

    In these parts didn’t live many humans. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] rode up front as leading brother, which were the customs here. The younger ones followed right after. They passed by more oranges yard, which seemed to do well in this river valley. Most were small families in simple huts, but sometimes they crossed by a real stone house, surrounded by a wall. They discovered that it was possible even to take a night logging with these families. With consent, <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B] and <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] accepted it. There was always a certain risk with <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B] playing the deaf brother, but so far, it all played out well. She conversed with the sign language to <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B]. They brought stories with them of places they had never heard off. Travellers and troubadours were always welcome to break their monotone existence. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] said only that he came from the Far East. Especially the tales about the steppe nomads of <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Nûrad[/I] and <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Dalpygis[/I] were popular. They had no idea about the <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Ered Harmal[/I] and the wild untamed lands beyond.

  14. Lady Aikári's Avatar
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    #14

    <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">The city of Oud Ilaz<?: prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />[/B]

    It was more than a week travelling down the river. The day before they would reach the city of <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Oud Ilaz[/I] they stayed with a farmer and his wife. They had no children, but were delighted with the stay. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida [/B]and <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] stayed with them and accepted a fine vintage of wine. From them <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] heard as well that it would be the best to avoid the city nearby, because the royal family reigned the city and surrounding lands with an iron hands. Travellers were not welcome really, as they picked them up, locked them and kept them for questioning. If you would not cooperate, then worse things were waiting on you with at the end possible death. The host advised to cross the river and pass the city on the left bank. He knew there were no bridges, and no people lived on the other side. They had to follow the western wall, which protected the river land from the sands of the east march, all the way toward <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Tirith Amrûn[/I] on the west bank. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B] agreed with it that they both should take the road over the western bank of the river.

    <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B] went sleeping quite early at the hour women usual went to bed. The host’s wife did the same, but didn’t know <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B] was actually a girl. In her room, <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B] had all freedom to do what she wanted, but still she was careful that nobody found out she was not the boy she gave herself out for. Soft she whistled a song while she bathed and made her bed ready to sleep. Three hours in the night, she woke up from a bad dream and sat right up the coverings up to her chest. It was dark in her room; the window was open to let the cool night breeze come in. It was silent in the house, but from outside she could hear the wind going softly through the leaves of the trees surrounding the stone house. She closed her eyes listening to the rustling sounds, enjoying them allowing the images from the nightmare fade from her mind. She knew her tricks to ease her troubled mind. But sudden she heard more than only rustling leaves and her eyes flung open. Softly she glided out of bed, put quickly on her clothes and the robes over them, her boots and reached for her weapons. Then she climbed out the window and hid under the window outside between the bushes. Whatever it was that sneaked around she didn’t want to be found.

    On travels she used to sleep slight in case of danger. Her sense of danger was accurate and warned her always beforehand something would come down her. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B] knew she had to protest herself in the first place; neither her father nor her brothers could protect her always. She was responsible for her health and her good name. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] was that also for himself, but the rules were slightly different still. As the noises grew louder and seem to come from inside the house, <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B] withdrew herself from under the window and escaped to the back of the garden into the wild garden full of orange trees. There deep in the garden she knew there was a hiding place, which she had found the other day during the morning walk through the fields. She got inside, closed the door as far it would and used her fingers to find her way in the dark. In the corner after a false wall, she made herself small and sat there waiting on what would come. The <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">shehada [/I]protected her against the nightly cold.

    <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B] could not remember when she had fallen asleep when she woke up, still from sitting in the same position for hours. It had become morning as she could see through the shelves of the false wall where the light came through the doorway. She heard nobody, and none had come for her to get. Slowly she arose from her place, stretching her painful muscles and tried to stand. Careful she came from behind the false wall and stepped through the shed to the doorway. Nobody was in the orange tree garden. She left her hiding place and ran back toward the house to see if her run had not turn into paranoid. If everyone was still there, and should now be in the central room having breakfast. But as she came into that room nobody was there, not even the servants. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B] dwelt slowly from room to room, holding her sword into her hand for protection. She came upstairs where the master bedroom was from the host and the door stood open, which was unusual. She stuck her head around the corner to see if anyone was in there. The large bed was empty, as was the next room. Worried she went to see the room her brother had occupied, but even that was deserted as she opened the door. All his belongings were still there; his clothes from yesterday were on the chair. The bed was a mess. She left the room to see where she could see perhaps where <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] possible had gone.

    The front door was open as well, as was the gate of the wall that surrounded and protected this house. In the sand stood many tracks. And the tracks led away toward the south. Quickly <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B] hurried toward the stables, where the <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Azumehda[/I] still stood, grazing from the hay of the horses. All the horses were gone. Apparent the raiders had seen no use in the <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Azumehda[/I] and had left them here. Alone <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B] didn’t know what to do, she knew everyone was gone and thus she was safe for now. She could not stay here, so she went inside the house and collected all belongings that were hers and her brothers. She was almost sure that <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] was abducted, as were their hosts as well with their servants. And she had a bold presumption that the raiders had come all the way from <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Oud Ilaz[/I]. Two hours later <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B] left the house and set the road toward the eastern bank of the river. She was afraid, but had no choice. Somehow, she had to get her brother back, wherever he was taken. How she would find him back, in what condition, she had no idea either. She would be resourceful to free her brother and leave the city safe. The city was not far off from the crossing where the road from <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Kupsha[/I] would join the one from the south and bowing off east toward <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Korb Chelkar[/I]. She had no idea what happened to the host and his wife, and neither there was much change she would learn what happened to them. But she would try to find her brother. By midday the dreaded towers of <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Oud Ilaz [/I]came into view. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B] halted for a moment, over thinking her chances she could be captured at the gate. Would she be spotted as a traveller when she reached the gate? Or would the guards just ignore her?

    While she worried watched the towers an idea began to grow into her mind, but for that plan she needed another human who worn almost the same garb as her, and he would travel also on an <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Azumeh[/I]. Could she find such a person, with she could sneak into the city? Walking with a group was a trick to get into a city where outsiders were not wanted. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B] knew she had to get in, with her <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Azumehda, [/I]she rather didn’t leave them unguarded outside the city, fearing someone would take them. She gave her <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Azumeh[/I] the spurs and whispered soft a prayer that all would go well and that she would be in the city before the evening fell. She found her salvation with a group of acrobats who had both horses and <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Azumehda[/I] with them, but they walked. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B] did the same and took her own animals at the reins, like the acrobats did. She converged at the end with them and walked so unhindered and unnoticed through the gates. The guards didn’t even look at her. After all this was the hour of the day where much traffic left and arrived at the city gates. People lived here. A few streets from the gate <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B] fell behind with her <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Azumehda[/I] and dwelt alone through the troubled streets. She ascertained that she had come into a not so good neighbourhood. Perhaps it was to her advantage... with her <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Azumehda[/I] and her dirty robes from the highway she drew no notice by the even dirty men and women walking in these streets. It was narrow here, the buildings high, and the late daylight didn’t reach the streets. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B] wanted to pinch her nose shut as the smells in the streets were everything, except for flowers, soap or perfumes. She felt sick. She had to find a place for the night, but where? At the end of lone street, she found an abandoned building where she could hide her animals and herself for the night. She had to stay awake, even tired as she was, not knowing who all would come here during the night. What would the day of the tomorrow bring, now she was in the bowels of <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Oud Ilaz?[/I]

  15. Lady Aikári's Avatar
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    <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">In a cell, two levels under the ground, Oud Ilaz. [/B]<?: prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />

    <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] awoke slowly from the dark world he had dwelt for hours. His world was foggy, as he could not yet see where he was. One thing he knew that was he lay no longer between the soft sheets he had fallen asleep between, but lay on a hard underground. He felt very cold upon his torso as if he wore no clothes and in his mind came signals that his back hurt as hell, if some wound had been torn open. While the fog lifted slowly in his mind and so revealing the word of four bare walls around him, he tried to sit up and discovered that he could not lean on his right elbow. Instead a soaring pain shot through his arm and moaning he felt back on the floor. He bit his teeth together as the pain slowly subdued and he opened his eyes again. It was nearly dark in his cell safe for the light from a torch coming through the window into his cell. With his good arm he tried to sit up again and felt around him, if there was something he could draw around his shoulders to block out the cold, but except rotten hay there was nothing. All he had still on were his pants, his feet were bare. The sharp dull pain in his left underarm was a bone that was broken. Whatever it had caused it; the guards had not set it, and just thrown him into here. How he had ended up here, he didn’t remember. All he remembered was that he had crawled into bed and felt asleep soon.

    Tired he sat against the wall and waited. Sooner or later a guard would come to check on him. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] knew from the wounds – there were quite many on his back and his arms – which they had not been caused during the hours he had been taken and brought to this place. It had happened here somewhere, in prison. While the fog further lifted in his mind, questions began to form into his mind, how he had come here and why. Where was he exactly? <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] didn’t understand it. His host had been kind, but had he been betrayed? And what had happened to <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B]? He wanted to rush to the door, scream that he was innocent, and ask what they had done with his sister. However, in the back of his mind he knew he could not, even as he could not say who he was. He knew he had been tortured. Why had he been tortured in unconscious state? Had he been unconscious? <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] tried to remember something, but nothing came to his mind. The last thing he remembered that a beautiful dream had erupted into pain and then just a deep black world. He could nothing do but wait, and hope that <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B] had not fallen into the hands of these monsters. He hoped she had left these lands and was travelling home.
    What perhaps had to be the end of the night – nothing was certain down here in the dark – a guard came to check on him. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] had fallen on the ground again, and had tried to sleep to gain strength again. Now he tried to stay unconscious, but a hard foot into his knees derived the reaction from him the guard intended. With a hoarse laugh, the guard said something, but <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] could not understand it. He could only guess. He hissed of pain when the guard gave him another blow into his knees. He gritted his teeth against the pain. The guard locked the door. He had brought neither food nor water. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] was thirsty as hungry, but as he had watched the vicious guard doubt began to gnaw in the back of his mind, that if there would be brought refreshment at all. Probably not. If it came not, it meant he could be only at one place... the old prison of <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Oud Ilaz[/I] were according stories nobody ever escaped from. Who ended there, simply died. And <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] was sure now how that went.

    The cold went as longer the hours crept by. At a point <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] didn’t feel it anymore, as he had finally withdrawn back to dreams, where he was warmly clothed in the mountains of <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Ered Harmal[/I]. A guard, who now brought him some draught, roughly awaked him again. Groggy <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] tried to sit up again, taking care of his broken underarm. The guard had also brought some coverings what were not more than rags, but it was better than remaining bare. With one arm it was difficult to put something on. When the guard was gone, <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] tried to eat the bowl with draught, but it was tasteless. He had not eaten for forty-eight hours or longer. And neither he had had something to drink. So he took it all, to survive. He wondered not what it could be. After his meal he felt his underarm and where the bone was broken. The world almost exploded when he put all his mind and power behind the setting of the bone to get it back into place. Gasping of pain, he slumped back against the wall, taking deep breaths. One of the rags he tore with his teeth and good hand into the long strips and so provisory he bandaged of the lower under arm. He hoped the inner bone would heal without many troubles. So he fell asleep again.

    After three days, the guards got him out of his cell and allowed him to go up toward the inner court of prison. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] wanted desperate to see the sun again, but on the other side he had no idea what kind of other prisoners here were, and who all would be aired, as the guards put it. His legs protested as he was forced up the stairs and was pushed to go to a courtyard. The light pained in his eyes, and <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] sought support against the wall as his eyes adjusted to the light. The courtyard was a square surrounded by high walls, impossible to climb over. Guards patrolled over them, keeping an eye on the prisoners below. He had put one of the rags over his head, as he wore a <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">shagur[/I], but none of the men had it here. So he took it off his head, not to draw attention to himself. But all had spotted him as newcomer. Everyone new, was registered here in face and a nickname. An old man approached him slowly trying to pass him by without drawing the attention of the guards to himself. While he slumped by he whispered quick in the language of the <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Azumenúkhad[/I]: <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">“We are brothers, use your power to survive...” [/I]<B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] knew to hide his surprise and looked down to the stones. The old man slumped on, seeking his way along the wall and then sudden sat down on the ground. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] wanted to follow the old man and help him, but instead he remained where he was. The other prisoners watched him like hawks. He was glad when the signal sounded and all had to return to their cells. As long he was there alone and locked, nothing happened to him.

    The words of the old man lingered in his mind. His memories at the inn in Tir Ethraid about a man named <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Celegur[/B] who had asked him about his name. Was the old man also a member of his tribe? He had spoken his language. There were a few outside the <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Azumenúkhad [/I]tribe who understood or spoke the language. And what power would he mean? <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] knew nothing other than his own strength, and he felt weak. Was he about to fall ill and then just die? What power to survive meant the old man? <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] tried to understand, to wrap his mind around, but he could not. Yet he kept trying to work it out. The hours seemed to grow into days and weeks, but at the moment <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] was not aware of that. As <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Celegur[/B] had mentioned that he listened to an ancient name, now this man had mentioned a power. Was it a coincidence two strangers had said this to him? Or just luck, nothing particular? Or was there perhaps a secret <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] knew nothing about. A secret that was related to the tribe he belonged to... was it the culture, or the habits? Was it something inside the people self? Meant the old man to keep hope? <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] felt as he thought about the old man’s words not so desperate anymore.

  16. Lady Aikári's Avatar
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    <DIV marginheight="1" marginwidth="1" topmargin="1" leftmargin="1" ="WebWizRTE">
    <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Freedom looming[/B]<?: prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" /><O:P></O:P>
    <O:P></O:P>
    <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B] roamed the streets alone; she had no friends here, no allies she could rely on. And then she could not come out who she really was. Her identity had to remain a secret, so she could wander unhindered around. Most people who walked the streets were men and boys. She saw sometimes women and barely just girls, or they were disguised as boys as if she was. For two days, she hid in the abandoned building with the <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Azumehda[/I], the third day she dared to leave it in search of food, other shelter and a sign where her brother could be. She hid her weapons under her robes. Her first search rounds were without any results. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B] felt threatened in this city. She saw how men looked away from each other; cautious glancing around if nobody watched them. The women were no different, yet they tend to look at other females to ensure they were not in the wrong place. Why would men avoid looking at each other, while the women did? Was it dangerous to be masculine? More and more questions came up into her mind, as men seemed to do all sort of servant tasks, while the few women walked around and carried nothing. <O:P></O:P>
    <O:P></O:P>
    In the end, she felt embarrassed and confused. It looked and felt if some male despot ruled here. But too many signs were there that indicated there was no male despot at all. Perhaps it was all fraud to serve a higher purpose as protection of a city full of women. It could be a vision to the outside world that protected this city. Real fear ruled here. Who was the ruler? Moreover, who were his advisors? So <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B] changed her tactics and went to hunt for women’s clothing. The fabrics and fashion were different from in her homeland. She found something that fitted on her, and she withdrew herself to the temperate loggings she had created in the building where she had brought under the <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Azumehda[/I]. She appeared two days later into her new garb and accessed a new world. Now she had access to parts in town where servants and men were not allowed. She decided to use her own identity as <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida Aznawar[/B]. Most times, it was just sufficient to use her name she was called with. Men could not come into bathing facilities and among the library, some museums and other scientific institutions. All that had to do with science was forbidden for men. It amazed <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B] considerable. But why was her brother abducted? And what had happened to their hosts in the last house they had their loggings? <O:P></O:P>
    <O:P></O:P>
    While dwelling in the scientific buildings <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B] accessed the local map of the city how the layout was. She was pretty with this and she studied it closely, quickly copying it all into her mind. After that she dived into the local card system to find out if there was something known about the last local raids. But the system had no news on that, it was about important buildings and plans in the city. The librarian could not help her either. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B] could not tell what her true purpose was. But when she left the library she saw a familiar shape of her former female host. The woman didn’t see her, but walked free and confident around. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B] hurried into one of the side streets and over thought the sudden nearly meeting. As she had surmised that something was wrong, she felt now right that truly something was odd happening here. She had to find a solution to the problem where her brother was. And then she had to get him free somehow. <O:P></O:P>
    <O:P></O:P>
    Back into her shelter building, she slept a night over it, cleaned herself and dressed herself into clean clothing. She took her weapons with her and in the meanwhile, she began to form a daring plan. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B] knew it was risky, but otherwise she would never come to know why both had been practically sold, if she had woken up in time to hide. It could be nothing else than money being involved and the knowledge of the <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Aznawar[/B] name. Though she hated it, she went off to the slave market in the eastern part of <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Oud Ilaz[/I] to see what stock they had for sale. To the slaver she expressed her wishes that she wanted a maiden and two male servants, preferable of the most eastern tribe against the <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Ered Harmal[/I]. The slaver had one female, an older woman, and one male, some years younger and a young boy of not ten years old, all of the tribe she wished. If it was wise to buy a few slaves, she didn’t know. But after some bribing and negotiating she paid the middle price for all three slaves. The slave woman saw immediately that her stars had turned to better positions. The young boy was her son. The man she had no relation with. She thanked <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B] humbly that her mistress had taken her son too. The <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Azumenúkhad[/I], how far related from each other, always cared for each other, and if they met someone in prison of enslavement then they set out to get them free somehow. The tribe from the far northeast lands did everything to remain together. <O:P></O:P>
    <O:P></O:P>
    <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Muïda[/B] was the name of the woman. She had the same light brown hide that marked the <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Azumenúkhad [/I]men and women. Back in the hiding place she gave all three more practical clothes. The boy, except for his hide, didn’t look so much like his mother. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Amenur[/B] was he named, after the god of health. At the fire, <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Muïda[/B] cared for the dinner, as she was a better cook than <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B] was. <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">“I hope it tastes good. I learned from my grandmother,” [/I]she said, watching her son who assaulted his first good dinner in a long time. <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">“My true name is Neida Aznawar. I am alone at the moment and thought it better to have some tribal company if possible,” [/I]told <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B] between two tasteful brocks of bread. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Muïda[/B] nodded friendly. <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">“I am Muïda Nawanar, I was married, before we were captured. Amenur is my only surviving child.” [/I]The man sat quite alone from them, eating alone. Also he had not said anything. After dinner <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B] explained why she had bought them, telling about her own safety and the imprisonment of her brother. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Muïda[/B] nodded, as she had been expecting <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B] was not truly alone in these lands. The two women began to lay out the first steps in an escape plan for <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B]. Now the name of <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] fell, the man looked up and stared at them. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B] noticed it, and looked back, hoping he would join with them. But he remained sitting alone, not sharing his name or thoughts with them. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Muïda[/B] understood why, as so were the customs among the tribe. Men and women did not mingle with each other. But <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Amenur[/B] could play a buffer to cross that problem. The young boy went to the man and tried to speak with him. A half hour later the man sat with them. His name was <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Nawúe Mizunar[/B], he had lost his family in the same raid, and thus knew the <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Nawanar[/B] family. But they had no family ties to each other. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Nawúe[/B] would try to find a way if he could visit the prison and see where <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] was kept. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Amenur[/B] got the task to take care of the <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Azumehda[/I], while the grown-ups were gone to collect information. Somehow, they also had to leave this city also without drawing attention to themselves. But that was concern soon <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] was free. As it seemed now, it would be harder than first thought. <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Oud Ilaz[/I] was a dangerous city. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Muïda[/B]’s and <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B]’s task was to find the right person who had stocked <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] away, and most possible it was just a woman who had done it. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Muïda[/B] spoke the local language and would do the talking. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B] would be her daughter. She could pass for one. So they sat out to find all the tools for the great escape. <O:P></O:P>Edited by: Lady Aikári

  17. Lady Aikári's Avatar
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    <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Escape from prison[/B]<?: prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />

    It was tricky to move in a city, where outside seemed mostly male, but in the shadows ruled the women. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Nawúe [/B]had set out to find out where <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] was kept prison. He had not a hard time to pretend as an uncle who sought a family member in the prison in case he needed a cover. He would study the prison from the outside if there was a sign of him, but he returned empty-handed. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B]’s and <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Muïda[/B]’s adventure was more prosperous. They entered the prison without problems, sought the head-guard who was indeed a woman, and <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Muída[/B] told a difficult and incredible story about a wayward son, who could be perhaps because he had done something naughty, she thought. With permission, they were allowed to look into the books, if her son was really there. Both came across <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] and which cell he was kept, but as they paged on, memorizing the text quickly. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Muïda[/B] searched on, but found no name that corresponded to her imaginary son. They thanked the woman for her kindly assistance and went away. With their information, they returned to the hideout.

    <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] had a little to do in his cell. Until now, he had been twice outside on the inner court of the prison. The second time he had seen other prisoners than the first time. He had tried to keep low profile on the court, but to no avail. Some men had beaten him up pretty well. It had been hard to protect his arm. He had healed so far that most bruises were gone, but the bone in his underarm hurt still. He had his doubts how things would be if he was aired a third time. The guards never intervened if a quarrel broke out on the inner court. The prisoners had to handle themselves. If you could not fight, death was written on you. Once a day he got still a watery meal and one can with water. He still had not figured out what the old man had meant with to rely on his power. He knew his strength was waning, because of the bad food and water, and his broken arm that was not healing well. Yet he was not feverish, but that could happen in a few weeks if nothing changed in his poor conditions. He wore the rags he had gotten and was barefoot still. In the evening <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] was visited by the head guard of the second floor. The man studied him, and tried to ask him a few questions, but all <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] barked out were a few incoherent sounds. That it was another language, the guard never imagined. He wrote down that possible lunatic was held on his floor, and perhaps he had to be removed to floor three underground.

    <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Nawúe[/B] was pessimistic when he learned on which level her brother was held. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B] on the other hand was confident <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] could get out, but how she didn’t know. <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">“You need a plausible reason to get him out legally and transported,” [/I]argued <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Nawúe[/B], trying to get some sense in <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B]’s head. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Muïda[/B] agreed that more thought must be given to the escape. It was not after all as easy as first thought. She had counted on that, <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Nawúe[/B] as well, but <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B] clearly not. <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">“Would illegally possible? Trying to sneak him out?” [/I]wondered <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neída[/B], looking at the two older people. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Amenur[/B], <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Muïda[/B]’s son just listened. In exception, they sat all four together, discussing the next steps. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Nawúe[/B], as the temporary appointed leader, developed slowly a daring plan, and turned it inside out to look for flaws. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Muïda[/B], <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B] and even <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Amenur [/B]asked all sorts of questions and gave all sorts of remarks. The young boy had a refreshing simply insight on things, and so as well the plan. They slept the last hours of the night and set out to work in the morning. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Nawúe[/B] believed for some reason it was better to try in the morning.

    <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] knew when the guard with food and water came, and when the guards were changed. Although he was beneath cut off from sunlight, and therefore time, he knew it was always brought at the same hour. He broke out that night, as a guard came to relocate him a level lower. He let him stumble in the doorway and broke the argil-made drinking can in pieces on his head. The guard slid unconscious on the floor. He took the man into his cell, stripped him of his clothes and locked him up. As he walked steadily through the hallway he saw no other guards, neither he heard the locked up prisoners. It had to be deep in the night, as he moved upstairs, making his way to freedom. He countered a few other doors, but he had the keys of them all. He found the clothes he had worn in the night when he was abducted from the villa. He took the bundle with him. The last stairs brought him to a door and he entered amazed a world of riches and glitter beyond his imagination. He had unknowingly lived for weeks below a palace. Something sinister was here as the cellars had somehow been transformed into a prison. Why would there be a prison below a palace? What purpose served it? But before he could find any answers, he first had to find a bathing room to change the rags he wore still. He found a room abandoned where he took quickly a bath, washed all the dirt of from weeks and put on his own clothes again. He left the room, gave the flames in the hearth the rags to consume. He felt much better instantly, but had no weapons to defend himself and as far he looked around he found no weapons either. The palace was a maze of chambers connected together. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] moved silently, but except an accidental chambermaid or –boy who walked by, he saw no other persons. How large was this place even? He hid himself in a dark abandoned room until the morning. He had to get out this maze and find his sister. But where was she?

    In the half-deserted neighbourhood appeared once in the few weeks a patrol to scan it for unwanted livestock or other scavengers who didn’t belong in this part of the town. For some time <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B] had stayed here, hidden from praying curious eyes in a cool abandoned building. They had come, because some people had thought a group of people lived here, as it was not supposed to. However, they strolled through an empty building, finding indeed traces of recent living, but the inhabitants were gone. The patrol took nonetheless samples and returned with the evidence to headquarters to report a new case of illegal inhabitation. It was a constant problem in this city, as parts were abandoned for many reasons. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B] and her group had profited from it. Now they had set out to get <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] free and see to leave this town unharmed. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Nawúe[/B] had come up with the cover of a princess visiting the leading house of <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Oud Ilaz[/I]. He played a general accompanying her for her safety. He had <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Amenur[/B] with him as son and <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Muïda[/B] as related by marriage niece to the princess. Also they had bought a few more servants, who knew nothing about their normal identities. It was not hard to play their particular roles and pass through for nobility. The <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Azumenúkhad [/I]tribe had a culture and manners that leaned closely to those going with nobility. Pride and arrogance were a few of them. Against all hopes, <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B] and her niece <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Muïda[/B] were permitted to enter the palace. Even the general and his son were welcome, as it was about them, that they searched the older brother of <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Amenur[/B]. At the gates the concierge, who served as butler as well, received them. He delivered them into the hands of the female housekeeper and a chambermaid was sent out to call for the lord and lady. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Nawúe[/B], <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Muïda[/B] and <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B] exchanged understanding looks, assuming something was quite amiss. They waited in a lovely and beautiful stuff anteroom that could pass easily for a parlour. The furniture, the wallpaper and even the paintings indicated a powerful and rich family must live here. But neither of them knew who this family was.

  18. Lady Aikári's Avatar
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    <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leaving Oud Ilaz[/B]<?: prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />

    The morning came swift enough, but inside the palace, nothing indicated about it. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] hid still in the same chamber he had fled to hours ago and nothing in the hallways ran or screamed around that a prisoner had disappeared. He could not stay in the room he was, and so he left it to find a way out of here. Perhaps he could have done that in the night, but that irreversible now. Through the windows, the sun peaked in the east over the first roofs of the houses, and bathed most chambers in an eerie light, that grew slowly brighter and more intense. On his route through the next chain of chambers, he met nobody. Suddenly he came out into some sort of armoury, where hundreds of swords, shields, helmets, spears and other kinds of weapons were stocked. He mouth fell open by the amounts he saw, realising it was enough to stuff an army of two to three hundred persons. There was no-one inside and the air was musty. He closed the door behind him and inspected some weapons for a moment. Soon as he saw the blade of the first sword, he saw it was dead and that the metal was slight corroded. He felt it as he ran his finger over the surface of the blade. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] drew the conclusion that nobody had touched this in more than a decade or longer. And the person who had ordered it here to place, was most likely dead.

    He left the chamber and wandered through the hallways. He hid in alleys when he saw servants, but otherwise he walked on until he reached the personal quarters of the lord of this city. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] sneaked without problems into the chambers and closed the door behind him. There was no lock on them. The first was an anteroom, with next a receiving room, there were a study room, a clothing room, a bathing room and a bedroom. And through each chamber he came through, there was no soul to be found. Nothing indicated it was inhabited at all and in the clothing room hang some clothes, but most shelves were empty. Where the host was, he didn’t know. What <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] surely knew now, was that there no lord over <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Oud Ilaz[/I] existed. If he had been there, he was dead. From the bedroom he took the sword with him, so he was armed. He inspected also the hostess’ chambers, the ones for a lady. But the state was there the same as in the lord’s chambers. A mystery ruled this city then, and raided the surrounding areas.

    Despite the <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">shagur[/I] around his head, he could hear well. Footsteps either voices were not muffled by the fabric. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] left the lady’s chambers and headed quiet toward the main hall, that was not hard to find from here. He reached them without problems. The sword he had tried around his waist and hidden under his <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">sehada[/I]. In a side room there, an anteroom, he discovered a bunch of funny people, with among them his sister <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B]. He was as surprised as they were, but there was no time for questions or explanations. He wanted to be gone as quickly as possible. However soon as <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B] saw him coming into the room, she had to explain something to him, before her brother would complete blow the cover he knew nothing about yet. She wanted to say something, but <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] moved past them to a corner with curtains, where he could disappear behind. She frowned when the curtain at the backside of the room revealed another door, which could be opened and led toward a stairs, which winded downwards.

    <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] was not much surprised to find this trapdoor, which it was. Anyone could disappear this way and nobody would suspect something, or ask questions. The door did not exist. He turned around and growled with a low voice, which was barely to be heard: “<I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Come immediately, whoever you are waiting for, he won’t come.” [/I]Then he vanished through the door taking the abduction route. It led always to multiple directions, including a door to outside. He heard the footsteps of the little group and low voices discussing and muttering what he wanted. Angry <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] cut in over his shoulder: “<I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Be quiet, don’t talk and walk silently.” [/I]He was brisk as an army commander, but it was the only way now to get them safely without being noticed. He tried the first door they came by, which was open and the small chamber behind deserted. From there was another door that led to outside on a deserted inner yard and the yard had an entrance that could be opened from the inside. There were no guards posted. There he took a few moments to study the strange entourage of maidens, a general, a young boy and the servants. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B] were an outfit that changed her somehow into a noblewoman. “<I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Where are our Azumehda, and who are all these people with you? What has gotten into you?” [/I]he said angry and frustrated to her. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B] shook her head and took him by an arm. “<I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">I had to come up with something. I am a princess, this is my aunt, and that are the general and his son. You are his other son, and we were seeking you. The rest are servants. It is how we got in and how we like to leave,” [/I]<B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B] whispered to him. “<I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Where is your carriage then? We will be going now,” [/I]said <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] looking for a way to get to the yard where it hopefully was. “<I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">We have no carriage, we came on foot. The Azumehda are safe,” [/I]<B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B] replied surely of herself. Unbelieving her brother raised his eyebrows, making clear she was wrong, and that she had made some calculating mistakes. He took charge again, and looked at the general. “<I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Can we get out of here and make it to our Azumehda? Have you any weapons?” [/I]<B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Nawúe[/B] shook his head. “<I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">None of us have, except for a few knives.” [/I]<B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] rolled unbelievingly with his eyes and then stormed away toward the gate, it would have been much easier and safer if he had been alone. He vanished through the gate, leaving the rest temporarily alone.

    <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida [/B]and her group were quite confused. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Nawúe[/B] set out also to follow <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B]. An half hour later both men returned with the two <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Azumehda[/I], a couple of horses and a carriage. The women and the boy had to take place into the carriage, the servants had to take the horses and one would see to carriage. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] sat on his own <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Azumeh[/I] again and wore all his weapons now. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Nawúe[/B] was also armed, and sat on horseback. So they set out toward the east gate where probably they would not be found so quickly, if people came into pursuit. The noblewoman idea was good, but his sister had not thought it through and through. Fighting was about tactics, and women were not so well with fighting. That could better be done by men. The entourage mingled among the people of <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Oud Ilaz[/I], catching no more glances than anyone around. Before they knew they reached the east-gate and <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] led them on if it was most normal behaviour to come and go. He drew out a deep breath when they were out of sight of the city and back into wild land.

  19. Lady Aikári's Avatar
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    #19

    <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Ered Kajbah, lands of Khand<?: prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />[/B]

    Soon they left even the green deltas of <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Muzeida[/I] river it was all steppe, rocks and sand. There was not much choice than to abandon the carriage to the elements. With the wheels it was impossible to get it across the desert. After a night camping <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Nawúe[/B] brought an unlike solution than none would thought off. They could strip off the wheels and attach two gliders under them. Sand was the same as snow, it moulded to anything. The two gliders became one, as one surface would spread the weight equally and sand could take any form at any moment. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] agreed and helped the other men among them to realise the carriage-broad-glider. The women prepared a hide than would protect the wood at the underside. Also they made a couple of boots for the bare feet of their slave servants. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] sought them up and mustered the five men, which from their features and their present garb were from very different background and lands. One of them was a little thicker than the rest and very quickly he found it, the man was no man at all, but a woman in delicate position. He sent her immediately into the care of <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B] and <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Muïda[/B], the other two women in the small caravan. She listened to a very beautiful name of <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Eimear[/B] and was from Rohan originally. She was blond-haired, long and sturdy of build. She had a clear voice. The four others were indeed men. The man most to the left was deep black-haired and deep brown skinned. In broken <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Numenorean[/B] he spoke that he came from the <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Chyan Empire[/I] deep in the southeast that lay at the <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Ormal Bay[/I]. Life there was as much as here, men and women separately living in their own circles, but his civilisation was a complete empire with a royal family, medicine, literature and art stood in high regard and the society no longer existed in tribes. The dark lord Sauron he had never heard off, only now as slave nearby was a land of ash and fire. His name was <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Narish Daratur[/B]. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] knew, how unlikely it was, that he would grow a friendship with <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Narish[/B]. The man bore no hatred inside of him, except for the raiders who had taken him prisoner five years ago.

    The second man had a stern face and came from this region and was a <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Variag [/I]who rode with chariots. He was from the <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Angashaghur [/I]tribe and so an enemy of <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B]. Very reluctant he told that his name was <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Burtz Reidan[/B]. A long road would be walked if there was perhaps any chance on less hostility, and more chance for friendship. The third member was also an Umbarian, but then from the west coast, and neither was much chance on friendship or support, as he hated all tribes from the east. He is listened to the name of <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Arzâgar[/B]. The fourth slave was quite short for his appearance. He was quite young also, not yet in his teens and listened to the name of <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Alandur[/B]. He didn’t know where he came from, but <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] had not much trouble to fill that in. His name was Gondorian. The boy had been a slave all his slave and had served with three masters so far. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan [/B]sent him toward <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Nawúe[/B] and <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Amenur[/B], who probably would form some kind of friendship with him. Both differed not more than five years in age. The last man was dark-haired as well, and had dark eyes, but with that stopped all similarities from the other men in the caravan<B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">, Leídan[/B] and <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Nawúe[/B] included. He was the tallest of everyone and had a natural graceful walk. Like all the other slaves, he wore rags and was barefooted. The slaver who had sold them altogether to <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B] on the market of <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Oud Ilaz[/I] must have taken all footwear. He said not much, nor what to say more than only his name: <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Eremir[/B]. Where he was from, was no concern to anyone. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] didn’t like the quite commanding tone, but he left it for what it was.

    To survive all had to depend on each other. The first stage progressed without problems. The carriage on a slider became a refuge for the <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Eimear[/B], <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Amenur[/B] and <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Alandur[/B]. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] and <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B] rode their <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Azumehda[/I], the rest rode on the horses. Their identities were no longer a secret, nor from the slaves. They reached the mountains in two days. The second stage to cross the mountains was a different matter. The peaks reached to high in the clouds and were white on great height. They exchanged the slider for the wheels again, so the carriage could go on over the rocky underground. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Nawúe[/B] and <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Narish[/B] took it upon them to do some reconnaissance ahead. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Burtz[/B], <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Arzâgar [/B]and <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Eremir[/B] rode in the back and neither of them had much care of what came behind. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Arzâgar[/B] watched out for an opportunity to escape and rode off toward the west again. And <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Burtz[/B] was after a moment of low guard that he could take his chances as well. They had entered the lands of the <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Variag[/I] tribes now. And he knew the land pretty well even it stretched out for thousands of miles to the east. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] had to keep an eye on them, but failed to do that. He would lose a few of them. More swords was safer for the women among them, but slaves who would betray him he rather lost than kept with him. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Arzâgar[/B] formed no threat, but <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Burtz[/B] was a real enemy. And all knew it was playing with death to leave the caravan now. Everywhere enemies hid and go travelling alone and without weapons would most likely end up in slavery again. A few things neither of them suffered from were water, sleep, a whip and a hungry stomach. They got all plenty enough of that. Food wandered around richly in the mountains and groceries could be found also. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] expected to run into some tribe soon, and hoped to buy some food from them, instead to have to fight for his life.

  20. Lady Aikári's Avatar
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    <DIV =WebWizRTE marginheight="1" marginwidth="1" leftmargin="1" topmargin="1">
    <DIV marginheight="1" marginwidth="1" ="WebWizRTE" leftmargin="1" topmargin="1">
    <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Peaks of the Ered Kajbah<?: prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" /><O:P></O:P>[/B]
    <O:P></O:P>
    They ran indeed into humans, but these were very cautious. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] found traces of humans over the path that took deep into the mountains and provided them with much green growing on the hills. He had never been in these parts, but he knew the <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Ered Harmal[/I] in the east. The carriage rolled on without problems. The cold was quite severe here in the nights, but he could not allow a fire to burn as it would draw attention to them. During the day they rode on in silence as much as possible. On the fifth day that the caravan had entered the mountains <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Arzâgar[/B] had disappeared. Leídan didn’t go after the slave. It was the man’s own choice. He spoke with <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B] softly about it in their own tribal language. <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">“Burtz shall most likely disappear as well soon we enter his tribal lands or are nearby them. I don’t trust him,” [/I]<B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B] entrusted this to her brother. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] nodded. <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">“I don’t either. Arzâgur is now on his own. It is expected we lose some of them, by disappearance of by fight.” [/I]They said nothing in the following hours. The climb was getting tougher and the women had to leave the carriage. The others dismounted taking the horses by reins. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B] and <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] walked as well. Their <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Azumehda[/I] were not fond of the cold. The boys had to walk as well. Nobody complained and helped where possible. The road circled on. Eyes no longer watched them, reported <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Nawúe[/B] who returned from reconnaissance. Deep in the mountains, the climb stopped and they came upon ice-covered plains. All underground was frozen and the ground cracked under their feet. It was such a different world than they had ever seen and it seemed unimaginable that this existed even in the warm sandy lands. It was if the old myths of endless miles of ice were coming true here. The sun shone watery through the clouds, and added more ghostly effects. They walked through this deserted land. <O:P></O:P>
    <O:P></O:P>
    Two days this travel endured. Even <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Burtz[/B] was full of awe about all the ice. In the evenings, he took out a nice and cut some rough ice statues. He didn’t mingle with anyone. The rest of them sat together and shared stories. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Eremir[/B] didn’t mind it, talking about his years with the Gondorians. None of them knew stories from the lands in the northwest. <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">“Hm, steward Denethor has a quite tragic life. He was born in the time that his grandfather Turgon still ruled as steward. At 21 he saw Sauron re-emerge and so started building his fortress Barad-dur again. Then the volcano burst out again. He was brave man, and his eldest son Boromir is the same, very spirited,” [/I]he told. “<I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Even these times are still very troubled. It is a few decades ago since I was there.” “That is not a hard concern. It is great to hear something from the northern lands. We hear a very little of them,” [/I]said <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Nawúe[/B] with a smile. All the men sat together. The women sat at a little distance and listened as well. Provisory they had set a tent at one side of the carriage where they would all sleep. The women on the left side, a curtain between, and the men on the right side. <O:P></O:P>
    <O:P></O:P>
    A week later they were out of the mountains and the cold, and entered a land full of hills. They were high enough to block view, but hindered not in progressing the journey. But it was green land and the animals had enough food and drink to find. A tribe from <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Perzarsan[/I] below the <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Muzeida[/I] river had crossed the waters and found this spring a new rich and empty land here. They were horse-culture like the Rohirrim in the north, as <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Eimear[/B] told and explained to them all. They were excellent riders, and could travel long distances sitting in the saddle. She was an amazon herself, but could not ride now for her delicate condition. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Burtz[/B] surprised them all to give her advises, even she didn’t ask. None asked why he did, and he refused to explain. He was allowed to be what he wanted to be. On an evening <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] called all the slaves together, and that was everyone, except for him and <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B]. “<I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Currently and officially even it has never been spoken out, you are all my property. You were bought by my sister on the market at Oud Ilaz. Perhaps Neida said to some of you that you were free. But even the Azumenúkhad have their rules on property. Her words don’t count so much, as I am alive. She knows it and you, Muïda and Nawúe, know it as well.” [/I]He looked from his sister to <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Muïda[/B] and her son, and the man <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Nawúe[/B], who had all three come first with them. His gaze moved on to <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Eimear[/B] and <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Narish[/B], then toBurtz and <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Eremir [/B]at last. He didn’t smile as he went on. “<I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">I have a purpose with this meeting altogether. I come from a tribe, where we don’t really believe that living beings are the property of one another. Not human beings. Some of you have become friends; some just see me as an enemy. I am giving you all your freedom back. You are officially free to go where you want. We all know that it is impossible to guard one and other.” [/I]He took a deep sigh, reading surprise on all faces, including <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B]. “<I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Being the owner of you all is more a burden than you think.” <O:P></O:P>[/I]
    <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal"><O:P></O:P>[/I]
    <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] stood still among them. “<I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">The best advice I can give is to stay altogether until we reach roads and lands where you can split off and return to your lands safely. The choice is yours.” [/I]He said nothing and wandered off with Neida so the group could discuss it among themselves. The next morning the sphere had somewhat changed, and even the lesser talkativeBurtz and <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Eremir [/B]said a bit more. All declared they would stay together and travel on, until it was time to separate. It took a few weeks more before they left the land of the hills and came to the city of <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Kruk Mabur[/I]. <O:P></O:P>Edited by: Lady Aikári

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    <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">The dead of Kruk Mabur<?: prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />[/B]

    The small caravan of three women and seven men arrived one a very late afternoon the city of <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Kruk Nabur[/I], an hour before the sun would be down. The first sign that something particular had happened was that some flags on the walls were missing. The standards were there, but the flags were gone. The second sign was the wild land where instead crops should be growing to feed the nearby city. Third was that there were no animals grazing in the wild grassland. The earth was very fertile, but it was unexploited. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Burtz[/B] was the first to put his thoughts into words: “<I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">I feel if death is wandering around. It is mouse-still here.” [/I]“<I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">There is still life here, but not of this world,” [/I]said <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Eremir[/B] suddenly. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Eimear [/B]shook her head. “<I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">I don’t understand.” “It is not so hard to understand. It is another stage of life,” [/I]explained <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Eremir[/B]. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Eimear[/B] looked at him with a gaze in her eyes that he was talking craziness. She looked at <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Burtz[/B] and raised her eyebrows to him. They rode on through a wild, neglected landscape and in the evening light, it looked if they had entered another world. Not even Sauron could have created such a landscape with plants growing wildly, and human civilisation corroding.

    <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] rode up front and didn’t hear what was spoken in the back. He had his own questions, but waited to ask them. As they rode on all his questions solved themselves. What houses had been, were ruins, destroyed in the sandstorms and other winds coming from the plains and the distant <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Ered Harmal[/I] Mountains. Somewhere even a tree grew in the ruins of a house along the way. His <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Azumeh[/I] walked fearless on, so nothing threatening was around here. He sat in the saddle and rode with the hobbling walk of the high-legged animal. The city was there as they rode toward it. The road was paved with natural stones, grass growing everywhere, flowers richly represented. The caravan rode on. The gate was open, the doors hang still in their hinges. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] dismounted in the entrance and walked toward the gate to see how it looked beyond. But except that the houses stood still there at the streets, it was completely deserted. Trees and bushes grew everywhere, indicating that it was for some decennia deserted. <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Kruk Nabur[/I] had become a dead city. It was a ghost city.

    With consideration, they decided to camp outside the city instead inside the walls. It was particular <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Eremir[/B] who insisted to do it. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] nor the others registered any dangers, or saw ghosts wavering around. But <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Eremir[/B] claimed he saw ghosts sometimes or just felt them. Just after dinner <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B] looked at him, studying him as well. <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">“How are you being able to see or sense dead people, and we don’t?” [/I]<B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Eremir[/B] frowned slight. “<I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">I can sense them. Nothing strange about.” “But for us it sounds odd, we never encountered humans before who could see of sense dead people. Rather we believe the dead move on to the netherworld, kind of Walhalla,” [/I]said <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B] confused. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Nawúe[/B] cut in: “<I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Eremir is not our kind. He hid his identity very well. He is an elf.” [/I]He looked at <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Eremir[/B], who sudden was alert. “<I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Yes, you have forgotten that you travel in a group with fellow thinking beings. From these lands doesn’t mean we cannot study and discover, as some of the peoples north feel that the peoples from the south just live in wild times without any form of civilisation.” [/I]<B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] had never seen someone so baffled as <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Eremir[/B] was staring at <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Nawúe[/B] now. How had come <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Eremir[/B] ended up into slavery? However, so all of them had tales of themselves. And none of them had been born as a slave, except perhaps for <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Muïda[/B]’s son <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Amenur[/B]. It would take hours to come to know each life tale and also if they wanted to tell. Most never really wanted to tell, because they were ashamed what had overcome them.

    <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Narish[/B] had never heard of other kinds of people, other races. He had been taken in a raid, but never served anything else than human masters. He neither knew what an Orc was. <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">“My empire lies deep in the south, beyond the Great Dune Sea. It is a different world from here, rich full of life, warm in some places tropical. We have almost an equal amount of days of rain and sunshine. Mild winters and warm summers. The empire has a high standing culture, the roads are safe to travel and on the streets is possession of weapons forbidden, except off course if you are a police officer.” [/I]He gazed into the fire between them. “<I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Fires like this don’t burn in our houses; they have a heating/ventilation system below the floors. We have cooking, dining, sleeping and recreation corners. The oldest children inherit the houses of their parents; the younger ones must build a new one, or seek a house that comes free. Marriage is a word I didn’t know before I came here. The concept is however familiar. Man and woman bond together for a whole life and speak the necessary words. I hope to return home some day, grow old there and lay my bones to rest in the city I was born,” [/I]he finishes his descriptive tale.

    <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Muïda[/B] smiled: “<I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Thank you. Not what I expected. The Azumenúkhad life a nomadic life. Our light brown hides and grey eyes tell that we share a different route from the other tribes here in Khand. We have a monogamy way of life, what differs from the other tribes. But the ways between men and women are the same. Our houses are tents, and our transports are the Azumehda. We have our historians who safeguard the history of the tribe.” [/I]<B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Amenur[/B] cut enthusiast in: “<I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Yes, I like nomadic life. Each season we stay in another place. Neither surrounding is the same and I can do a lot with my friends.” [/I]<B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] nodded. “<I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">I wear always the shagur.” [/I]He pointed to the dress of his head. “<I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">For the sun and sand and harsh winds of the plains and the mountains.” [/I]It was a good hour to share these stories. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Burtz[/B] nodded: <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">“Ancient stories tell that you came as robe ghosts from the north. All covered in clothing and no eye to be seen. It is a folk tale among my people about yours, Leídan.” [/I]<B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] shrugged: <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">“There might be some truth in them. It is hard to say. It is over four thousand years ago since we entered these lands in the north and settled near the mountains. Myths survived, even among us. What was life back then? Only the elves can tell, people like Eremir. The only fact still stands is that we never encountered them. We don’t have tales or myths about them. So most likely they don’t know about us either.” [/I]<B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Eremir[/B] looked straight at him, but gave no reply. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">[/B]

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    <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Travelling further and saying goodbye <?: prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />[/B]

    Going into <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Kruk Mabur[/I] was no use, it was deserted and in ruins. The fertile lands had been left to the wild. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Eremir[/B] didn’t want anyone to in there and all of them agreed. The next morning the group left to go further east. Slowly, but surely they would reach the cross point where the two rivers joined again. Instead of going into <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Khandur[/I] and the lands beyond, <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] decided to take the lower river that led toward the <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Ered Harmal[/I]. It was easy to pass the cities of <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Talazhan,[/I] <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Enmahabh[/I] and <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Kruk Boyadla[/I]. A road led all the way toward <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Sturlurtza Khand[/I]. At the great city went a road to the deep south. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Narish[/B] could there pass through the lands of <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Lurmsakûn[/I], <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Arysis[/I] and <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Siakan[/I] toward the <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Chyan Empire[/I]. Half way between <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Enmahabh[/I] and <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Kruk Boyadla[/I] a wheel broke from the carriage they had with them. The other wheel was stuck in the sand and those inside got some bruises by the sudden stop. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] ordered to stop and hold a rest, even it was in the middle of the day. With the broken wheel, they had to abandon the carriage and no further on horseback. None protested against it, and an hour later they rode further.

    It was almost homeland here, now coming closer and closer toward the <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Ered Harmal[/I]. The land here deep in the east was fertile, green and rich. The river became broader and broader carrying much smelting water coming from the high mountain chain. Hundreds generations of the <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Azumenúkhad[/I] tribe had been born here. The little group moved on, each of them caught up in their thoughts of home. For the gates of <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Sturlurtza Khand[/I] they stopped. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Narish Daratur[/B] was the first of them who said his farewells. It was quite emotional, because the women had grown fond of his presence, and the men respected him. They all knew they would not see him ever again. While Narish turned his horse upon the south road to <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Lurmsakûn[/I], everyone waited until he turned around to see them a last time. Beyond <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Sturlurtza Khand[/I] lay the land of the <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Azumenúkhad[/I], to where <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] and <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B] belonged. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Muïda[/B], her son <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Amenur[/B] and <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Nawúe[/B] belonged to it as well. In four days they travelled to Laorki, where <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Burtz Reidan[/B] expressed the wish to leave and go back to his tribe. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] took him aside, despite the protests of the others. “<I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">I can understand your desire to return to your family. I know we are no friends, but nonetheless I have to say that I grew respect for you, and I am thankful you stayed with us.” [/I]<B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Burtz[/B] bowed his head. “<I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">The same likewise. I had never expected you set all of us free. I have one wish, I want to take Eimear with me.” [/I]<B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] nodded. “<I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">She is like everyone else free to go. If she want to come with you, then you have my blessings. Plans perhaps to marry her?” [/I]<B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Burtz[/B] had to smile: “<I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Yeah, it has not escaped your attention. But yes I like her, and I hope she wants to come with me. In the time she travelled with us, she never mentioned her homeland, so I guess she got nobody there. And in me she has at least someone. We may be enemies, but we are not barbarians, and we respect our females highly.” “I believe that, Godspeed on your travel then together, and may you reach your tribe safely,” [/I]said <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] and walked away.

    <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Burtz[/B] and <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Eimear [/B]left indeed together. As <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] had thought, <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Eimear[/B] had no kin anymore in the lands she came from. As a young girl, she had lost her family in a raid by Orcs and herself had been captured and taken to Mordor, where she had lived a part of her life in slavery, sewing clothes for the Orcs. In her teens she had escaped and gotten over the mountains. But fate had driven her in slavery again in the city of Tir Ethraid at the border of Gondor. And a slaver had taken her into Khand to a servant girl. Now she had found love with <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Burtz[/B] and she had gone with him to the <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Angashaghur [/I]tribe on the plains of Khand. Life could be very capricious. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Alandur[/B] from Gondor and the elf <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Eremir [/B]stayed with them and travelled to deep in the lands of the <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Azumenúkhad[/I], the first signs of being tracked none of them missed. It was a merry group now together. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Alandur [/B]became more and more interested in the life of the <I style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">Azumenúkhad[/I], and asked even if he could join the tribe. But as oldest among them of the humans, <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Nawúe[/B] just smiled and said that the Elders would decide that. Otherwise he had to return to his homeland. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Eremir[/B] remained a closed book where he came from, or why he had dressed himself as a human. <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] surmised that the man would see all the new times also, long after he was dead and his bones gone to dust. He found it very difficult to imagine how <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Eremir[/B] really experienced the world around him, and perhaps that was why he was so silent and thoughtful. So <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] put the elf out of his mind and concentrated on finding the tribe, which was not as easy as it seemed. Still they had to travel for miles, but the lands and the mountains were known, except for <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Alandur[/B] and <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Amenur[/B]. The boy was in awe and rode around with an open mouth looking at the white high peaks of the <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Ered Harmal[/B]. Against the immense deep blue sky, the view was magnificent. They all agreed that this was the most beautiful part in the world, and they believed it was paradise. And so <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leídan[/B] returned home with <B style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Neida[/B], after his adventure to the West.

    Endnote: Thanks for reading this tale. I hope you enjoyed reading it.

  23. Maldir Ethring's Avatar
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    NPC - Adham-ShahinThe Pass to Sook Oda
    Under the black cloak of an arid and clear night, a lone rider on swift hooves streaks northwards off the beaten path up through seemingly endless dunes of sand. This was the entrance to a narrow pass unguarded and feared by most of the more upstanding Haradrim to undertake even in the broad-daylight hours, yet the horseman in black raiment pressed onward in full gait, unhindered by such weak-minded notions found among the meek.
    Upon reaching the lofty summit of the pathway nestled betwixt the wind-swept sand hills, the rider suddenly found himself before a closed gate crudely crafted of intertwined shafts of bamboo, and a detail of shoddy-looking bandits who aimed their long spears point-blank up towards his face. Annoyed by the inconvenient hindrance towards his journey, the rider slowly raised his hands above his head in submission, revealing the permanent ink-mark of the Shadowblades Guild etched upon his forearm, a foreboding symbol even the lowliest of thieves in all of Harad would recognize. Without hesitation or a single word spoken, the spears were lowered and the gateway was opened in due haste...No one dared defy a Shadowblade Assassin safe passage, for the vengeful after-effects of such dishonor would prove quite unmentionable.
    The horseman's narrowed glare cast away from the pitiful band as he lowered his arms and took up the reins of his ebon stallion once more to bolt through the gate and down the desert trail in a spirited gallop. " Such impediments are to be expected in these harsh times...may a fat, lost merchant cross your path my kinfolk... ", Adhamthought silently to himself as he continued on his way towards the port village of Sook Oda.




  24. Maldir Ethring's Avatar
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    NPC - Adham-ShahinAcross the Ethir Harnen
    Come the dawn of a two night's ride out of Umbar with little respite, Adhamrested his dark eyes upon the just opened gateway which led to the shanty Haradrim haven of Sook Oda. The fisheries and trader-folk were hardly astir about the sea-misted piers as yet at that early hour, only one all too familiar scraggy-looking fisherman appeared at the ready to set sail upon his small, yet empty and spacious dhow. The Shadowblades slayer drew his shimmering-black steed up before the shady oarsman and tossed a tethered pouch his way that jingled within the clutch of his bony fingers...a black-toothed grin of nodded approval then soon followed." No questions Sukâr. ", Adham bade in whispered authority to the boatman before he dismounted and led his horse up the gangplank of the dhow in wearied haste.
    The lone dhow was hurriedly set to sail northwards across the Ethir Harnen with a lateral, offshore breeze rendering its single sail full. Though Sukâr appeared demure in body and underhanded in mind, his devout loyalty towards readily assisting the Shadowblades Guild when called upon could only be outdone by his learned skills in sailing with stealth along the trade routes along the River Harnen between Harad and Harondor. Adham took advantage of the idle time upon the briny blue waves by tending his steed and assessing the arsenal in his tools of trade : A razor-sharp scimitar, a composite bow crafted of pliable, flat ground bamboo, Mûmakil tusk, and serpent sinew with a full compliment of matching arrows, a three-foot long hollow bamboo blowpipe with an assortment of poisonous darts, and, last but not least, a set of six steel throwing knives...a contented smirk of intrepid readiness chanced upon his swarthy face before he saw towards further making good of the time by taking a lengthy and peaceable slumber in a remote corner of the dhow as Sukârsailed onward.




  25. Maldir Ethring's Avatar
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    NPC - Adham-ShahinMaking port at Has Adri in Harondor
    The dhow of Sukâr stealthilyconverged its way northwards through the craggy river islets spread out across thewide expanse of the Ethir Harnen. Long had the experienced seafarer known these waters, as well as the timing of the guarded merchant ships along the trade routes...Such learned knowledge proved more than useful in smuggling wares between Harad and the disputed lands of Southern Gondor for Sukârover the years, yet his dealings with the Shadowblades Guild had become the paramount towards his profiting in recent times.
    After only a few hours time with a gusty headwind filling the dhow's sleek sails, Sukâr's credibilityhad prevailed once more, for the mouth of the Ethir Harnen had soon faded off in the misted distance astern, and upon the Bay of Belfalas, the diminutive coastal haven of Has Adri in Hardonor came clear into view. " Avast in yer slumbering slugabed, we be making port soon! ", the old salt of the sea bade in a loud and scratchy voice toAdham, who slowly opened his brown eyes to the startled exclamation.
    " At least I managed a good day's respite on this cluttered dinghy, you seriously need to clean the fish-gut muck up from off this deck! ", the slightly irritated Haradrim assassin blurted back vehemently the way of Sukâr as he procured a handful of gooey bait from off of his black raiment. " That was the doings of yer blasted horse, not me!...He had his nose in the chum bucket and spilled it out all over the place! I'll be thinkin' of you and your sinister steed while swabbing the deck tonight, rest assured...", the cantankerous mariner retorted back while maneuvered the sail rigging for the dhow to veer into the narrow harbor of the small port.
    " Suffice it to say, you have been more than accommodated for your troubles Sukâr, you should have been more mindful of Shaytãn while I slept...", Adhamanswered with a raised brow of anticipation as he stood himself tall to take the reins of his ebon stallion and see if the badgering boatman would continue on in the argument any further, to which he received only a grumbling undertone as the dhow drew near to the pier. " Shove off then assassin, and take that confounded black beast with you...", Sukâr bade in a not-so-fond farewell as he fingered a mop with his bony hands. " May the wind ever be at your back. ", the Assassin of the Shadowblades Guild said as he led Shaytãn down the dhow's gangplank and set foot in Hardonor for the first time in ages.




  26. Maldir Ethring's Avatar
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    NPC - Adham-ShahinShadowblades AssassinThe Haughty Harbinger Hostelry
    The shadows of dusk grew long upon the cobbled streets of Has Adri as Adhamstrode through in a slow canter upon his steed<i style="font-family: Geneva, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; ">Shaytãn[/i]. Nary a soul dared look the way of the foreboding figure out in the open marketplace square as the last of the local merchants closed shop for the oncoming night, for even though those were deemed the lands of Southern Gondor, the bulk of the populace that resided in the Emyn Imladrim were descendants of his Haradrim ancestry...They knew from his dark demeanor and black raiment exactly what he was, and shunned away from him praying that he had not come looking for them.
    Down a dark and dank alley the Shadowblades Assassin ambled in familiarity, and soon came upon the door of a dimly lit hovel of a hostelry at the very dead end. " The Haughty Harbinger...some things never change...", Adham spoke under his breath while he set towards a hastened dismount from his black steed and rapped three times upon the locked door. " Eh?...You've no business being here assassin, on your way! ", a low, guttural voice spoke out from behind the door as a squinted eye appeared through the peephole. " Oh, I think I do Beni...you wouldn't begrudge an old friend a drink now, would you?...", Adham answered back as he pulled the black veil that covered his nose and mouth off to the side with a raised brow in the peephole.
    " Adham?...By Ulmo's undulation, it is you! Come in, come in and do make yourself at home! Take the master's mount around back and tend to him in the stable, boy! ", the elderly proprietor of the hostelry shouted out excitedly as he opened the door with a stiff pat on the shoulder to Adham before he bade a young lad inside to take care of<i style="font-family: Geneva, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; ">Shaytãn[/i]...




  27. Maldir Ethring's Avatar
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    NPC - Adham-ShahinShadowblades AssassinThe Haughty Harbinger Hostelry
    The wrinkled, bony hands of Benihir-Barazôn shut the front door of the hostelry after Adham had stepped inside, then spryly fingered the latch tightly locked. Therein the seedy,smoke-filled barroom mingled a good number of miscreant denizens, who were busied in a variety of acts of self-indulgence." Come, let us make our way around back into my office for a friendly drink away from any...prying eyes, bent ears, or loose tongues out here...", Beni bade towards his old acquaintance with an outstretched, open hand gestured towards a red, silken portiere behind long bar counter. Several pairs of shifty eyes followed the two make leave of the barroom, yet were sharply turned away when the Hostelry's huge and burly doorman stepped in front of portiere with his arms of knotted-muscle folded over one another.
    " Now then, whatever brings you to the door of my hole-in-the-wall so very far north of Umbar, my old apprentice? ", the old man asked of Adham rather inquisitively as he fetched a dusty bottle from off the wine rack. " An emissary named Dorhilion...Heard any gossips? ", the Shadowblades Assassin answered back with a posing query of his own as he took a seat at the small round table before him. " Hmm...now that name does ring a bell...I know!...I overheard one of the ship merchants mention that name in anger here not too long ago...Some sort of stuck-up young blue-blood in Gondor who treated his servants poorly, seems he made a public display in humiliating the merchant's wife up in the White City and dismissed her from servitude right then and there...Said he'd kill him if he ever crossed his path...",Benihir-Barazôn said in a recent recollection as he blew the dust off the heady vintage, popped the cork, and proceeded to pour two glasses full on the table before he sat himself down.
    " He will not get that chance for vengeance. ", Adham calmly said back with a glare of confidence within his narrowed, dark eyes before he took a sip of the potent potable. " Ah, now I get it...Old age has crept up upon my wits of late...I've not seen that look of dread in ages...I've missed it, as well as being a Shadowblade on the hunt...You are off to Amon Eithel soon then? ", Benihir-Barazôn suddenly realized after he kicked back a swig of the wine with a black-toothed grin towards the thrill of the chase in his earlier years. " Yes, under the black cloak of midnight I head up the Harad Road, yet for the moment I am in no haste to leave...I cannot tell you how truly good it is to see you again...master..." , Adham's eyes softened towards one of, if not the only, person he could confide in as a true friend and respected mentor.




  28. Maldir Ethring's Avatar
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    NPC - Adham-ShahinShadowblades AssassinThe Haughty Harbinger Hostelry
    " Master?...Now there's a title I've not been called in a long, long time...Has it been ten years since I retired from the Guild already? ",<i style="font-family: Geneva, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; ">Benihir-Barazôn[/i]reminisced in a somewhat forgetful sigh, thinking back towards his heyday as the Guild Master of the Shadowblades in Umbar. " Quite so Beni, I fear I am one of the chosen few who would remember your reign of terror throughout all of Harad...I regret to inform you that I am the soul survivor of your Shadeslayers Elite...I fear I was the only one who embraced your training in the dark arts wholeheartedly master... ", Adham spoke in truth to his old mentor with a look of honored pride. " A pity, yet quite fitting ...I'm not surprised in the least, for although you were the youngest and last of my pupils, you did outshine all the others...You took to death-dealing like a moth to the flame Adham, I'd imagine the whole of the Guild now holds you in the highest regard then? ", Beni bade in due compliment with a closing query as he kicked back the remnants of his wineglass. " They fear me and my methods both...Killing is my business, and business is good master...", the Assassin boasted in utter confidence with a wry grin before he too polished off his delectable drink.
    It was then at that moment of mutual silence between the two men when the back door in the room flung open wildly as a young woman toting a creel of fresh fish barged in. " Well it's about time Sahar! It's nearly suppertime and there ain't one bloody fish on the grill for me to cook! Get yer rump out at the counter before I keelhaul ya, ya swine of a slave girl! ", the enraged Beniexclaimed aloud as he stood himself up from the table and grabbed an apron while heading towards the hostelry's small cookery. " You'll have to excuse me now Adham, there's finally fish to fry and mouths to feed! Outta my way! ", he bade his old apprentice with a hasty exit out of the backroom while tying the apron on through the portiere and bumping hard against the huge doorman.
    Adham chuckled under his breath at the comical sight of his old master tending the grill, yet as he reentered the busy barroom, he found his attention curiously drawn towards that slave girl Sahar tending after a piqued patron at the bar counter. She was rather tall and slender with blonde hair and a fair complexion that he found quite fetching to his eye, and although he knew he should have bade Beni farewell and set upon his journey once more, he chose not to for some odd and curious reason. As he drew nearer her way through the crowd, he espied her hand stealthily pour the contents of a vial in a flagon of brew and hand it to the impatient denizen before her. " Well, what have we here? ", the Shadowblades Assassin queried to himself in enticing curiosity towards the doings of the barmaid as he positioned himself alongside her victim. " I'll have the same as him, love. ", he asked of Saharwith a narrowed gaze. <i style="font-family: Geneva, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; "> [/i]




  29. Veowyn Girarion Alarion's Avatar
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    #29








    NPC - Sahar

    Benihir's Slave

    The Haughty Harbinger Hostelry



    'Hurry up Sarabeth.' The young woman told herself as she raced through the streets trying not to lose any of the fish in her basket. She still called herself by her real name, not the one given to her by that cruel Benihir-Barazôn that had captured her after she ran away from home all those years ago. 'WAIT!' She halted right as she got to the back door of the Hostelry. 'I don't have the right clothes on, he'll tan my hide in front of every one, after ripping this dress to meet the "visible skin" requirements. This is my only full dress left, and it'll be much worse than being late.' She slipped to her hiding place, where she kept her 'bar' clothes, so that she would not be seen in them in the general public. She already had nasty rumors about her about the town, but she did not want to make them worse by having the women (who did not frequent the hostelry) see her in the skimpy dress she was made to wear for Benihir's patrons.

    Tying the barely there apron, and slipping three small vials into her pocket, she grabbed up her basket and ran back to the door. She planned to slip in quickly and quietly, and prayed her elven stealth would keep her from being noticed, until she had the fish all prepped for Benihir. She did not account for the wind though, and it shoved the door wide open. Her big blue eyes fell on a stranger in the back room, talking to her master. She did not have time to analyze her thoughts on him before Benihir was yelling at her. "Sorry Master!" She gave him the basket and scampered out to the main room. As she passed the doorman she heard a slight chuckle. 'Cutting it too short again Sahar. You need to quit worrying about what every one else thinks of you. Benihir is the only opinion that matters." She gave him a small look, but did not have time to answer.

    As soon as she entered the room she was accosted by leering stares, and "ah there she is!" accompanied by different comments about her various physical attributes. With the way Benihir had sent her in, she had not had time to gather her whits and put on visage of the easy seductress that was required of her. Some of the men caught on to her flustered embarrassment, so continued their comments all the way until she reached the counter. There she turned her back to them for a second and finally cleared her mind to set for the task of the night.

    She then quickly got to filling orders from around the room. As she delivered drinks, she expertly sidestepped the most of the groping hands, while unwillingly submitting to a few pinches and pats. She eyed the doorman, hoping that he would be there like he was every night prior, to keep her safe. When the first flush of orders died down, she then had time to think about her own side experiments. She planned to kill Benihir one day. However, she needed to perfect the perfect poison. She needed one that was slow acting, she wanted something that caused a lot of pain. She also planned a love potion for him, so that maybe he would ease up his brutality on her. It was a three step process, and the only way to test any of it was on the unsuspecting patrons.

    She was close to having the slow acting poison ready, and she had a current batch ready to try. She only ever tried it with the stronger ales though, because it was the best to hide the bitterness. When some one finally ordered the mug of the drink of choice, she slipped a few drops into his mug, and smiled after he took the first few sips and did not seem to notice. She then wondered if there would be any one to try her painful one on tonight. She saved that one for the worst of people, when they got out of hand in the way they treated her.

    She was then startled by the man she had seen with Benihir earlier. She eyed him to see if he showed any signs that he had noticed her spike the drink. "You don't want any of that one. You are a friend of my Master Benihir no? Only the best for his friends." Her blue eyes now had a chance to take in the man, as her sing song voice spoke. Now, she poured him a mug of something different, something stronger, because for this man she had a different thought in mind. All of the men that she saw Benihir talking with (more than just normal Hostelry business) were the targets of the love potion trials. She hoped that they would convince her master to soften up on her, or even buy her and take her away from him. She fingered the other vial in her pocket, and deftly added some to his drink. She then came to his end of the counter, and set the glass in front of him. She brushed her golden hair behind her slightly pointed ear, and leaned on the counter as she waited for him to take the first sip. He was a quite handsome man, especially for any of Benihir's friends.

    "Now, ain't that better than any ale?" She flashed him a sultry smile, the one that Benihir said would get the rich customers to spend their every last coin in his bar. "The name is Sahar, is there any thing else I can do for you?"







    Edited by: Veowyn Girarion Alarion

  30. Maldir Ethring's Avatar
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    NPC - Adham-ShahinShadowblades AssassinThe Haughty Harbinger Hostelry
    There was not even the slightest hint of wariness displayed by the Shadowblades Assassin as the becoming barmaid Saharpresented a different potable of choice before him on the counter for good reason :Whatever deceitful chicanery this fair maiden was up to in tainting the bar beverages with furtiveness would undoubtedly put his precautionary and well-practiced tolerance towards toxicities to the test. Such were the guarded methods that he had been forced to undertake in recent years back in Umbar, for three of his former Shadeslayers Elite colleagues had succumbed to food poisoning on leave outside of the Guild by hired mercenaries...Such a dishonorable fate he had made certain would not be in store for him as well.
    " Ahh...this is quite the hardy brew you have given me Sahar , a bit on the frothy side yet nonetheless savory...My name is Adham, and such a thoughtful recommendation on your part should not go without its due reward...", he chimed back her way with a wry smile while he fingered a shiny silver penny in his left hand. " Something for your troubles?...", the man of Harad posed further her way in a near whisper as he flicked the sparkling coin with his thumb up and across the air between them, then found solace in disappearing down into the plunging neckline of her scanty blouse.
    It was then at that moment of undeniable distraction for Saharwhen Adhamhad cleverly performed some trickery of his own : His right hand had nonchalantly set the mug of brew back down on the top of the counter and picked up a linen napkin to wipe the froth from off his mouth, yet, in a slick and unforeseeable motion under his black raiment, had successfully dabbed a single droplet from the tiny ampule Belissima had sold to him onto his forefinger. He then simply pursed his lips against his forefinger under the napkin to let the mysterious liquid saturate for a moment, then lowered the linen cloth to apologize to Sahar for his embarrassing action. " Oh, I'm terribly sorry Sahar, can you ever forgive me for making such a scandalous scene?...", Adham pleaded to her with a soulful look as he saw to taking her forehand and kissing it tenderly...Yet then for some odd and overwhelming reason, he found that all of his senses were drawn more and more towards this lovely, out-of-place woman looking back at him.
    " Are...you what they call an elleth up in the northern lands?...I have settled business with a few of the males, but never a female...No wonder they're so stuck-up, I'd be too if I held such beauty in my arms...", Adham could not help but compliment Sahar'sway as he kicked back the last of the brew and gazed at her every attribute in a perpetual dream state.





    Edited by: Maldir Alarion

  31. Veowyn Girarion Alarion's Avatar
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    NPC - Sahar

    Benihir's Slave

    The Haughty Harbinger Hostelry

    "Adham..."
    She repeated his name, rolling it on her tongue and drawing out her foreign, elven, accent. She smiled back at him, until his coin came her way. Her reflexes were always quick enough to catch coins flung in a similar manner, but she did not even try. She knew where it would land, but let him have the satisfaction he sought from his aim. She then made a show of retrieving the silver coin now lodged in her bodice.

    When she finally slowly brought it forth, she gave him a smirk. Even his fake apology made her curious about this man in black. She knew the potion she gave him was not quick enough to be working yet. So she wondered how much it would do to a man who already had an interest in her. It was not the usual type of interest, blunt and open. This was sly and clever, and it made her wonder about this man.

    When he kissed her hand she blushed a little, almost as an after thought. "No worries, it is already forgiven and forgotten." She blinked as her hand started to tingle where he kissed her. She then had the wonder about the feeling of that kiss on her lips instead. She liked his voice, as he kept talking. He was asking about her, but her mind was filled with rude people wanting her attention more.

    "Elleth, I am, yes." She spoke comping closer to him, still wanting to feel that kiss. Some one called to her again. "Take that table there, and I'll tell you more." She motioned to a table, than ran to get drinks served. Then she came to the table. "What else would you do with an elleth?"



  32. Maldir Ethring's Avatar
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    <br ="Apple-interchange-newline">NPC - Adham-ShahinShadowblades AssassinThe Haughty Harbinger Hostelry
    Having had his fill of heady wine and stout suds for the time being, Adhamslid the empty mug across the counter away from him, for something much more inebriating had presented itself to him within the every action of Sahar : The wily way she softly spoke his name and curled the corners of her blue eyes in a glance his way , the surprising and unabashed manner she procured the silver penny, it all began to turn what was once just a trifled gesture of cordial admiration into a growing desire of passion the more she interacted with him...Such a strong feeling he'd not had in a long, long time.
    The colorless, odorless, and nearly undetectable clear droplet of liquid that found itself upon the becoming barmaid's forehand was the extract of a rare desert bloom simply known as Sababa and wasfound only in a single oasis somewhere in the Dune Sea. Adham hadpaid dearly for the potent philter that he had built up an immunity towards over the years, yet this was the first time he'd ever even thought of using it for other than business. Surely,Sababawould be put to the testupon the tolerance of an elleth, for upon mankind its effects were seen almost instantly upon making physical contact.
    " Very well, I anticipate your return in utter patience Sahar.", the Shadowblades Assassin cooed back her way with a wry smile as he moved himself over to the small, round table she had gestured towards while she tended after a few patrons in waiting. The Hostelry had by that time become nearly filled to the brim with seedy scum of all kinds. It had gotten to the point that one could hardly hear themselves think in the noisome clamor by the time Sahar had returned before him with a rather provocative query.
    " I would treat her as affectionately as she would treat me and promise to take her away from this filth forever...All she would have to do was say the word and place a passionate kiss upon my waiting lips...", Adham said to Saharin a bold and brazened reply as he stood himself up from the table before her and looked deep within her blue eyes, not giving the slightest of care towards who else was within earshot of his words.




  33. Maldir Ethring's Avatar
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    <br ="apple-interchange-newline"="">NPC - Adham-ShahinShadowblades AssassinThe Haughty Harbinger Hostelry
    All the while as Adham and Sahar continued to exchange words with one another, the proprietor<i style="font-family: Geneva, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; ">Benihir-Barazôn [/i]had kept a squinted, yet watchful eye upon the presumablypresumptuous pair from the window of the back-room cookery. The old man did not take kindly towards the flirtatious mannerisms they had openly displayed for each other, for it had indeed begun to hinder his slave-girl from her barroom duties. Just as soon as Benihad grilled the last of the fish fillets, he angrily untied the grimy bib apron from around his waist, flung it down upon the butcher block filled with festering entrails, and stormed out through the huddled masses to stand in the corner where the contumacious couple were situated with a bloody cleaver clenched within his grasp...the daunting doorman soon shadowed his footfalls.
    " Well, well, well, what have we here now? Is it my understanding that you two have suddenly taken a liking to each other, eh? Have you simply taken me for a blind old fool or have you become so smitten with my seductive servant that I'd actually overlook such contemptible coyness? I think not assassin, step away from my property right this very instance or suffer the consequences ! ", the irate hostelry owner posed Adham's way in an undeniable ultimatum, the cleaver in his hand trembled with rage as it slowly raised up to meet the assassin's chin and the burly doorman cracked his knuckles as he came to stand next to Sahar.
    The crowd hastily cleared out away from the sudden confrontation, yet looked on in utter anticipation to see if a barroom brawl would be taking place. Adham looked between the two men before him with a silent glare of defiance as he stood his ground. " It is up to Sahar whether you can call her your servant still Beni...What say you my elegant elleth?...Is this where your heart desires to stay or not?...", the Shadowblades Assassin asked of Saharin a calm and collected tone of voice with an intended wink her way.




  34. Veowyn Girarion Alarion's Avatar
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    NPC - Sahar

    Benihir's Slave

    The Haughty Harbinger Hostelry

    Sahar's head was all a swim. She could barely take her eyes off the man now sitting along at the table. She went about her work not even looking any one else in the eye. She did not even notice the doorman trying to signal her that Benihir was watching. Her slave-master was completely gone from her mind. As she finished her work, there was only one thought left in her mind, Adham.

    When he filled her head with the sweet ideas he placed there, she believed in them. There was nothing but him and her, and he was going to save her from her lame existence, and make her life worth while. All she had to do was place a kiss on his lips. She could do more than that, she would kiss him from head to toe it that is what it took to get his attention. She leaned in, all her reservations silent, until she was barely an inch from his face. She savored their mingling breathes, but that was all she was going to get for now.

    "Benihir!" She cried out as the barkeeper broke the spell enough to grab her attention. She jumped back a little, but unconsciously grabbed for Adham's hand out of fear. She squeezed as a greater fear seeped in when her master held his cleaver at the assassin's chin. She would have moved to protect Adham if she had not felt the doorman's hand on her opposite shoulder. She glanced up at him, but then shook her head, and looked back to Adham.

    She needed reassurance, she needed to know she was not going to lose him now. Wait... Why did she care if this man died? She did not even know him. All of Beni's friends and patrons were the same. Weren't they? She did not need him. What had come over her to cause this in the first place? Why was it that if she did not care, that when she saw the knife that she wanted to put herself in the way to save this dark man? She knew that there was something else at work here. Had she accidentally drank some of her own potion? There was certainly more to this assassin than met the eye.

    However, she also saw this moment for what it was, her chance. This was her chance to escape. She could kill Benihir later. Right now, though, she had a chance to get out of here. Even with the mess this was about to turn into, Sahar knew what to do.

    She shrugged off the doorman's hand, then she placed her hand on Benihir's wrist. The touch was so delicate and gentle that one would assume it was even endearing to this man who owned her. She then put a gentle pressure to get him to lower his hand and the cleaver. "Oh Beni..." She said, in an almost seductive tone meant to catch everyone off guard. However, her hand that still held Adham's tightened briefly. Then with a quick graceful movement she resumed where she had left off before the barkeep had interrupted.

    She pressed her lips to Adham's, freeing both her hands to hold his face in them. She had never kissed any one before, but this moment was more amazing than she had ever imagined a kiss could be. She finally let up to let them both breathe, and her eyes settled in his. "That answer your question?"



  35. Maldir Ethring's Avatar
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    NPC - Adham-ShahinShadowblades AssassinThe Haughty Harbinger Hostelry
    If ever there were a proverbial kiss of death that held so much clever chicanery in a tight spot, it was this one. Not only were the proprietor and doorman both taken back at unawares by the allured gesture of the becoming barmaid and the sudden display of affection shown between Sahar and Adham, yet for one fleeting moment just afterwards, they had unknowingly let their guard down...and that small window of opportunity was all that the crafty couple needed to forego their move towards making a hastened escape from the confines of the Hostelry, but for good.
    " Verily...", the Shadowblades Assassin replied back towards the enchanting elleth in the heat of passion with a wry grin, then, in the blink of an eye, dropped down into a tightly crouched stance and landed a powerful leg-sweeping kick across both shins of the daunting doorman. The burly behemoth lost his balance and toppled over backwards to the like of a great timber being chopped down, which resulted in the back of his head smacking hard against the top of the table Adham had been seated at before.
    " The bigger they are, the harder they fall...", the death dealer of Harad muttered aloud as he stood himself upright to look down upon the foe he had just rendered incapacitated. His dark eyes then came to rest upon the sight of Benihir dropping the cleaver in his hand and falling to his knees keeled over in great pain at the feet of Sahar. Whatever she did to fell the former Shadowblades Assassin Master was beyond Adhamfor the moment, yet he knew that this was the only chance they had to exude the premises before any of the other patrons in the Hostelry had any thoughts of ill-repute towards the couple for their vigilance.
    " Come, we must act swiftly my love! ", Adham exclaimed as he took Sahar by the hand and fled past the crowd towards the backroom door where he had first laid eyes upon her. " Do you know of anywhere safe that is close by where we can lay low for the night beautiful? I am sure that little upstart back there will have us both on the wanted list of the local authorities...", he asked of Sahar as the two made their way out back of the Hostelry where his trusted steed Shaytãn had been tended after well.




  36. Veowyn Girarion Alarion's Avatar
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    NPC - Sahar
    Benihir's Slave
    The Haughty Harbinger Hostelry
    Sahar did not have time to show concern for the doorman who had been her protector all these years. She instead splashed Benihir with the last poison she had left. The painful one. He screamed, a sound she had waited to hear for a long time, as he fell at her feet. She knew it would be some thing that pained him the rest of his life, but that mattered little. "I'll be back to finish you, Beni. I promise." She stepped over him, then ran out with Adham. They came out the back, and she quickly grabbed her small bag hidden in the crates by the door. She then stood face to face with a mighty horse, but she had no fear of him. "I know some where we can go for the night. I have a few supplies there as well." She gracefully lept onto the back of the horse, and spoke in her native language to him. She held out her hand to Adham. "Come, I will show you." As they rode off she looked back to see the men bursting out the door, looking for them. She smirked, knowing she was never going to have to work for that monster again. Sahar's Secret Lab

    Even following only back alleys, and sticking to the shadows, they made it to the edge of town in only a few minutes. They came to what looked like a little run down, one stall, stable. She jumped down and led Shaytan into it. There was fresh straw on the floor, and fresh oats in a bucket. Then she opened a hidden door in the floor, and jumped down into a dark hole. It tookSahar only a few minutes to light the small room, that was more like a labratory. Two thirds of the room were filled with a table and shelves that all held different materials and devices for making her potions. Plants, both dried, fresh from the market, and a few potted growing ones lined one set of shelves. Vials, flaskes, and other containers where displayed on another. There was a trunk under the table, which contained food that she had planned to use to try to hide the tastes of her poisons. In the corner there was a small straw stuffed mattress, with ratty, torn blankets covering it. Another, smaller, trunk was used as a headboard and held her few personal items. With a single rotting wodden chair beside it.

    "Come on in, my love." She called up to Adham while she put her small boundle of clothing away in the small trunk. "It is not much," she was starting to feel embarrassed about her small, dirty, little labratory. She wished she had better accomidations for the man she thought she loved. Did she love him, or was this some sort of spell? She could tell she was under the influence of some potion or something. However, she also did not want to fight the feeling, or make it go away. For once in her life she had hope of a better life, and there was even a man to share it with. "We'll finally have a chance to be alone."



    Edited by: Veowyn Girarion Alarion

  37. Maldir Ethring's Avatar
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    NPC - Adham-ShahinShadowblades AssassinSahar's Secret Lab
    <i style="color: rgb102, 0, 0; ">" Then hold on tight and lead the way to this hideout of yours as we ride like the wind my nimble minx...On Shaytãn ! "[/i], the Haradrim assassin spoke out in hastened fashion towards Saharas they both mounted atop the black stallion and hurriedly bolted down the alleyway through the obscured shadows of a moonless night. Their stealthy, winding path towards safety seemed to elude the pursuant patrons from the Hostelry, for soon the couple came to a broken down stable on the eastern outskirts of the port ofHas Adri, and there was neither sight nor sound that anyone had followed them.
    <i style="color: rgb102, 0, 0; ">" Yes, this will do nicely Sahar...We are close to the Road and yet still a good distance away from any occupied dwellings...Seems an ideal place for a hideaway indeed..."[/i], Adham commended the fair-haired elleth's way as they both dismounted off ofShaytãn and entered into the derelict shed. After he had carefully tethered his black steed to the lone hitching post near to the oaten bucket and bale of straw spread out on the ground, the Shadowblades Assassin then took towards closing the creaky door shut with a narrowed eye peering outside through one of the splintered cracks. Contented that they were indeed safe and sound, Adham turned round quick to see Saharsuddenly disappear down through a trap door he had not taken notice of before. <i style="color: rgb102, 0, 0; ">" Nimble minx indeed...You rest well and keep quiet my friend, I'll see you in the morning... "[/i], he let out in low laugh as he patted Shaytãn upon his forelock, shouldered his pack, and descended down through the trap door after hearing Saharcall up to him.
    <i style="color: rgb102, 0, 0; ">" It is more than enough for the likes of me...Besides, what other comforts could we possibly need now that we are out of harm's way, all alone in contended seclusion, with nothing but the air standing in our way?..."[/i], an overly enticedAdham chimed back Sahar's way upon seeing her shapely silhouette against the flickering candlelight. He could not help but draw himself closer to her quickly and wrap his arms around her in a passionate embrace...What took place for the remainder of that fateful night need not be known to any but Sahar and Adham, yet come the dawn of the next day, long after the effects of the love potions had worn off, they both found that the feelings they held towards each other had only grown more so.
    " Come my dear, it's high time we left this forsaken city long behind us both...a new, free life awaits you on the road ahead...", an invigorated Adham called down to Sahar from the opened trap door. <i style="color: rgb102, 0, 0; ">[/i] <i style="color: rgb102, 0, 0; ">[/i]





    Edited by: Maldir Alarion

  38. Veowyn Girarion Alarion's Avatar
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    NPC - Sahar
    Freed Slave

    Leaving Sahar's Secret Lab

    Sahar had laid there before Adham had woken that morning. She knew that neither of them were there under the spell of potions any longer, but here he still was beside her. How long would it last? Would he leave her behind to fend for herself against the town that would hang her without second thought? Honestly, she did know, but that did not mean she regretted any thing. The man that held her also now held her heart, and it was his to take or to break.

    When morning came, and they gathered what little supplies she had, into a leather pack. Her bar clothes (though she never wanted to wear them again, they were the only change of clothes she had), a couple stale loaves of bread, a block of cheese, and two overripe apples, hardly filled the bad. She also added took the few vials of the silent death and painful poisons that she did have prepared. The last thing she grabbed was a small leather bound note book from the table. It held all her notes from her different potions, and was written in elvish so that no one in this town could read them any way.

    She tossed up her bag to Adham, as they prepared to leave this lab behind forever. Then, with a small running start, she lept up out of the whole. She was still surprised that he was still wanting to take her along, but she would not question it. There was no where else for her to go, and she only wanted to be with him. Once they had checked to make sure no one was watching the stable, they walked Shaytan out. She gave the steed a good scratching in his itchy places before they mounted. Once they were in place to go, she looked back at the man she loved. "Where are we going? I don't know any thing outside of this city."


  39. Maldir Ethring's Avatar
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    NPC - Adham-ShahinShadowblades Assassin~ The Road to Amon Eithel ~
    <i style="color: rgb102, 0, 0; ">" We are bound North to the city of Amon Eithel where I have some pressing business to attend to, my love...It is a two day ride on horseback and we shall have to seek another place to lay low for the night before we arrive at the capital gates there...Fret not dearest, though it has been quite some time since last I roamed those northern grasslands, I still know my way around. "[/i], Adham spoke in cordial certainty towards Sahar as the devoted duo settled themselves in atop Shaytãn and took to the road in a cloud of dust.
    On they rode throughout the daylight hours, stopping but once at midday in the peddler village of An Sakal to stretch their legs, partake in a light meal from their rations, and allow the black stallion a needed breather. Over the upland hills of Emyn Imladrimtheir road led thereafter, and as the black cloak of night fell upon the inland of Harondor, the tenacious twosome found themselves on the walled outskirts of the trader townAusk Harmaka, some fifteen leagues northeast of where they had set out from earlier that morning.
    <i style="color: rgb102, 0, 0; ">" I suppose we should seek out some attire more suitable to these lands so we can blend into the local populace first, then we can pose as a husband and wife at an inn for the night...Does that plan of action sound inconspicuous and appealing enough for you my sweet desert bloom? "[/i], an enthused Adham posed to Sahar as he hugged her tenderly while they trotted into the torch-lit town square.<i style="color: rgb102, 0, 0; ">[/i]




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    NPC- Sahar
    Adham's lover
    ~Ausk Harmaka~

    The ride was long, but with Adham she had found talking had been easy. However, with him pressed up behind her on the horse, even their silences were pleasing. She soon forgot her nervousness of being caught and her fears of leaving the city for the first time since she'd gotten there years before. When they arrived to the little trade town, Sahar was looking forward to her first night of true freedom.

    "Well, if we are going to find clothing today, we need to hurry. It is getting late, these shops won't be open much longer." She leapt gracefully from Shaytan's back, after turning to kiss Adham's cheek. She glanced at the signs and noticed the one with the tailor's symbol still had it's light on, fortunately. As she entered the shop she felt a bit nervous. She had never shopped for her own clothing before. When she was a girl she had only gone with her mother for fabric, cause her mother's best friend was a seamstress. The knowledge passed from her is how Sahar had been able to keep herself clothed while working for Benihir. She had been shopping many times for Benihir, but never had time to look for herself.

    Once inside the shop, she stopped and waited for someone to notice her. She almost ran back out to Adham, not sure what to do with herself. An older lady came from behind a row of gowns, and looked Sahar up and down. "What do you want? Go home, tell your Master that we are closed and not taking any more orders tonight!" At first Sahar shrunk back to the door, preparing to make a run for it. This woman knew she was a slave! Maybe she would know who her master was. But she obviously did not know what she had done. Then a surge of defiance came up. She was not a slave any more, and she did not have to take this!

    "I have no master! I am here on my own accord. Now, I am here because I at this ramshackle of a store to find something more suitable than these clothes. Are you going to turn down a customer? Word will spread of your 'hospitality' should you dare." Her angry words were filled with venom, she was ready to throttle the woman. The seamstress glared back. She did not believe this blonde foreigner. The way she was dressed showed that she was owned by some one. The older woman suspected that she might have even killed that master, so she decided it was best not to openly argue with her.

    "Fine, here I have some things that will work for you."
    She thrust an armful of garments at Sahar, and pushed the girl behind one the dressing curtains. They were plain, basic items, of dull brown shades. When she got out of her ragged dress and into them, Sahar thought they were a bit large for her. However, they looked and felt better than her own clothes, so she was pleased. She came out with a smile. She was just about to ask the woman how much she wanted for them, when Adham finally came in. The seamstress' husband, the store owner, came in with him, it was obvious they had already been talking. The older man looked from his wife to the elleth.

    A look of anger came into the man's eyes, but only for a second. Then he laughed. "My wife, just because you are jealous of this woman's youth and exotic beauty, does not mean you dress her in our ugliest items. Come now, my dear, these are paying customers! Get out our finest! The silks. The red. The purple. The gold trim! This man will only have the best for his bride!"

    Embarrassed, the older woman quickly set to the tasks she was assigned. She did not look up, she did not talk. However, the storekeeper went on jabbering. "We'll set her up with an outfit of full finery, two every day outfits still of fine quality, and traveling attire. As well as all the required small clothes." He was speaking for the benefit of the couple, as well as his wife. "I will also throw something in, that you especially will love, my treat." He spoke in a suggestive tone, with a wink to Adham.

    Sahar could hardly believe her ears. She stood there just staring at Adham, unsure of it all. Were they serious? Was she really getting three complete outfits out of this? How was he paying for this? She did not realize he had any money. She had not even thought about it, she realized. She hadn't cared. Any thing was better than her previous situation, but this was more than she ever dreamed of.

    Sahar was pushed behind the curtain again, and she took her time admiring the fabric, the color and the texture. The smooth silk felt like a soft caress on her skin, the fit was perfect. The deep purple made her blue eyes take on a violet hue. She took a few minutes trying to remember how to fasten the dress properly. She had only helped a few women fasten theirs so she was not quite sure she had it right. She soon came out, with a shy smile as she saw Adham and the storekeeper were still out there to see.

    Every one stared at her for a moment, the older man was the first to compose himself. "If I am any judge, I say it suits you better than any princess born to this land. Though, I know it is not as fine as the fair garments of your elven home." His wife gasped, just now seeing the pointed ears, appalled at her earlier behavior. Sahar was still looking at Adham, though. "What do you think?"


  41. Maldir Ethring's Avatar
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    NPC - Adham-ShahinShadowblades Assassin~ Ausk Harmaka ~
    Such a sense of undeniable commitment towards another's affections the Shadeslayer had not ever had the pleasure of experiencing before, yet he found the tingling feeling more than welcomed into his lone wolf existence...Saharmade Adham feel...complete...As if she were the missing piece to the puzzle that was his life and he would give her up for anything...In only a short amount of time, this elated elleth had managed to find the key to his heart and enter the depths of his very soul...He dared not think of how empty his life would be without her and could only hope that the affection she had showed him was not fleeting in her new-found freedom. The silent spell of these deepened thoughts were broken by Sahar's words of reply back to him however, and her kiss after they had dismounted reassured his hopes tenfold. With a contented smile Adham followed Sahar towards the door of the clothier shop and hitched Shaytãn to the post before it as she entered therein quite eagerly.
    Just when Adham was ready to make his way after Sahar inside, a grey-bearded man of upstanding quality came round the corner of the establishment with a curious look the Assassin's way. " A bit late to be looking for wares in my emporium, is it not? ", the older man posed his way in open query. <i style="color: rgb102, 0, 0; ">" Quite late indeed my good sir, yet my blushing bride and I have been on the dusty trail all day on our way up to Amon Eithel for a pleasant...honeymoon together...We ought to look our best now, right?..."[/i], the tall man of Harad gave back with a cheeky grin and brow raised in anticipation as he procured a pouch of jingling coins from under his cloak. " Oh, now I see...hehe, far be it from me to stand in the way of young love and a groom who spares no expense in good taste, come then ! ", the clothier chuckled as he led the way inside his shop with a broadened grin.
    <i style="color: rgb102, 0, 0; ">" No no, that will never do...My wife's beauty should not been hidden under such a horse blanket that you've covered her up with ! "[/i], a displeased Adham scolded the seamstress' way with his arms folded over while shaking his head in seeing what was given to Saharto wear. The owner then voiced his opinion to his wife and took it from there in a way more satisfying that Adham could possibly imagine. He himself had taken towards a fetching blue shirt of blue silk with matching pantaloons when Sahar stepped out from behind the curtain of the changing room. She was donned in a silken purple gown that accentuated everything about her : Her eyes took on a brilliant hue of indigo, her hourglass figure against the sheen fabric seemed to make time stand still, and her smiling face shone beauty that the shop had probably never seen before...Adham stood utterly speechless for more than a moment with his mouth agape and brown eyes as widened as saucers.
    <i style="color: rgb102, 0, 0; ">" I...think it is time for us to go now, my love...Thank you for your troubles good sir and ma'am..."[/i], is all that Adham could manage to say as he dropped more than a few golden coins in the hand of the shop owner, walked over towards Saharand took her by the hand, and left the shop in a perpetual dream state of mind...Though he could not take his wide eyes off of her no matter how hard he tried...and why would he?




  42. Maldir Ethring's Avatar
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    #42
    NPC - Adham-ShahinShadowblades Assassin~ Ausk Harmaka ~
    It took more than a mere moment's time for Adham to regain his composure, yet soon, after he had stowed both their discarded and her newly bought raiments in the saddle bag upon Shaytãnand led him by the reinsas the colorfully-clad couple walked hand in hand through the dimly-lit town square in the comforts of the fresh, night air, his instinctive nature to protect and nurture that which he revered most took to the forefront of his mind. " And I thought you were ravishing in that ragged frock before?...My dear, sweet Sahar, from this moment on you will have to accustom yourself to living in the lap of luxury...I meant what I said back at the hostelry, I will treat you like my queen evermore...and my, how you do look the part now...", the dashingly-disguised Assassin spoke in utter honesty towards Saharwith such affection that it forced him to stop dead in his tracks, wrap his strong arms around her in a tender embrace, and plant a passionate kiss upon her inviting lips right there smack-dab in the middle of the cobbled road...To which the black stallion whinnied in a tone that sounded approving.
    " Come now, let us take to that Inn over there, it looks clean and comfortable enough for a husband and wife to...lodge for the night, does it not my love? ", Adham chuckled with a wink of approval towards the elegant elleth as they made way towards the swank-looking establishment that stood out above the rest of the inns, hostelries and taverns that the trader town of Ausk Harmaka had to offer. More than a few heads had turned towards seeing the prominent pair saunter their way down the torch-lit lane that led to the inn namedThe Ausk Auberge, and even a few of the seedier men whistled wildly the way of Sahar. " Let them gawk at you, just you pay those pigs no mind my sweet Sahar...It is no crime to admire such beauty with a look or a gesture, yet I'm sure you'll know what will happen if one gets bold enough to try and touch you...Go on, tease them if you like, you're quite safe now with me by your side...", a mischievous and enticing grin came upon Adham'sface that Saharhad not seen the likes of before. He knew well of the reasoning behind her shyness and found this a more than opportune time for her to overcome it and speak her mind freely.




  43. Ennora's Avatar
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    #43
    The Other Side of the Story
    Part 1 - Of Heraasi
    2989,Third Age

    He was sprawled across the ground, hands wide outstretched as though he clung to the earth he had raked in ever floundering fingers, as desperate as he had clung to life. An ever growing puddle of his own repulsive fluids spread, threatening to stain the scene yet further crimson. Studying the various pattern that this made about her feet, Heraasi took a purposeful step backward, reluctant to have his filthy mess of a pitiless existence make any more contact with her that it already had. Turning neatly on her heel, she discarded his severed head from her grasp, and rubbed all resultant grimy fingers down the length of her skirts, painting her person the self-same hue of murder as her heart was now depicted.

    Perching gingerly about the very edge of the bed they had but recently shared, the woman cocked her head and further examined the damage. By rights, this deed should have been delivered to a resounding sea of applause, and the rising roar of support from the men who would thus serve her, concluding for sure that he was a fool who had been bested. By a woman. A thin smile snaked it's way across the expanse of her face. And to think, he had refused her most enthused application to join his host. The smug and lustful gaze he wore when he proclaimed that she would be his wench, his concubine, if she wanted so ardently to serve the cause ? That image would forever now be usurped in her memory by the somewhat surprised mask his useless face was cast during his final moments. He had underestimated her and proved himself a fool. And now he was a dead fool. For she, the self-same she who had been forced to listen to his self-obsessed crowing of glories, she had put him to the ground.

    The blade which had proven her salvation was his weapon. But consideration on the matter now dictated that it be a worthy trophy of her kill. In any case, it was far too mighty a gift to leave chance unattended that any man who wandered in might seize for his own. She had more than earned it. The question of course was what she should do next. There was no small number of men, warriors, from her folk, whom she knew had been swept up from their home and bidden hither. Just how many would fall sway to anything she said now was not so certain. They might just as well seize up the camp for themselves. Her people followed strength, charisma, and ultimately fear. Would they follow her ? And could she lead them, if they fell to her command ?

    There was much to contemplate, and not a lot of time in which to act. Their force had been driven in great haste toward some far-off command post where they, the soldiers gathered, would be inspected by some more mighty servant of the all consuming power and, if and only if they were there judged adequate, they would doubtless be deployed in training, or some mission far beyond her understanding. Heraasi hadn't figured that far in advance when she stepped forward and proclaimed herself willing to join them. She was not given to much planning or premeditation. Which was how she now sat with a corpse too nigh for comfort and uncertainty abounding. All she knew was that all such mighty companies who traversed through her homeland were in the possession of great power, or at least the means to exercise such, over others. That was what she craved above all else. Slowly she rose up, and steady, now that she'd had time to adapt to the swift attuning climate of her actions. First and foremost, she retrieved the sword and drew it high before her, reveling in what harsh reflection that it's bloodied gleam allowed.

    Then there came a clamour from a place as yet unseen, but close: the immediate vicinity of the entrance to the tent. This time she cared little as her feet tread in the bloodied mud, so engaged was her attention on the cascade of the entrance veil. The wind slapped the coarse weight of her shelter fast about, that all and anything existing on the other side was obscured from her line of vision. Within reaching distance of the rest of her life, she gripped hard both hands about the thing best equipped to decide her fate. The blade peered out into the gloom afore she followed it fluidly. And upon advancing without halt to her progression yet, she blinked at the scene bathed in the glow of torches, that whipped and danced so precariously in the cool night breeze. A man lay on the ground, close to demise his own, as another beat against his face with both hands clawed about a rock.

    He that she took for the victor was as nigh to lunacy as she could tell, lest his actions spoke but of a desperation not unlike her own mere moments previously. Catching glance at her approach, the kneeling man leant back, and posed as though prepared to hurl his rudimentary weapon at where it might injure her. There was little chance that she would fall prey to this attempt however, for his very movement betrayed his vulnerability. The manacles which secured both wrists were linked together, and to a tall stake, hammered deep unto the ground, granting him small freedom to profit from his foolhardy actions. What clothes yet hung from his emaciated form were cast enough from his back to exhibit the work done therein. Lacerations separated flesh and wounds festered, far beyond his means to tend them. For a time uncounted all the world froze, or so it did seem, and the brown eyes of the man beheld the darker reflection back of the woman. Each one equally as eager to show no symptom of fear. The man who writhed in agony between them seized now on the moment that his assailant was distracted, to attempt escape. Without a word, Heraasi plunged her sword into his belly, making sure that the serrated blade make good work of it's exit.

    As the last exertions of the dying ebbed in slow and painful rasp between them, she cast a wide swing that clove the wooden stake in twain. The prisoner's sun-painted skin, despite the dirt and dried blood and contusions, was fairer than hers when freshly bathed, and she wondered what manner of man he might be under all that mess. Watching her intently, he found his feet; the rock he retained stubbornly in both hands, sabotaging his balance to some degree but, she reasoned, he must believe that it marked him yet unwilling to be grateful for her act.

    She had no words by which to make him understand nor certain was she of what she might say to break the silence if she could. The crescent moon hung idle in latent observation as she retreated backwards unto the tent of her atrocity. Curious it might have been to note the fettered man thus follow or the look about his battered features as he thus beheld the scene within, and understood her meaning. Yet the veil of that entrance did efficiently secure their privacy as tides turned and the world became less sure in all that it had come to anticipate.


    OOC : I most heartily apologise if the content of this post or any that follows it be deemed too "dark" for plaza postage. If this need be edited, etc, I understand.
    Last edited by Ennora; 25/May/2013 at 01:00 AM.

  44. Ennora's Avatar
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    The Other Side of the Story
    Part 2 - Of Domanol
    2989, Third Age

    He thought most often of Pelargir. It was not, nor ever had it been, his home, and nor did it bear any significance upon his life thus far; save for only that it was the last place he could name where he had known kindness and glad hearts and, most of all things; hope. Now that his days and nights both were solefully bereft of such, Pelargir was the memory he clung to. When the pain grew nigh too much to bear and despair theatened to overcome. By rights, he was the most fortunate of all that ranger party which had ventured this far from their lands. For all others of that decimated number now rested among the dead. Breath still was allowed to grace him, and remnants of foul substenance were flung in his general direction; the means to stay alive. He had stood not as the fastest or the strongest among his proud comrades of Gondor. He had never been decorated as the most skilled or the most intelligent. And yet he alone now stood, the only survivor of their venture far afield. And how or why such a thing had come to pass, he could not have told you.

    The harsh guttural barks and bellows which sufficed for language amongst his captors, were no means of certain explanation. There had been signs observed from their lewd behaviour, but how much of his interpretations were in fact based on more than guesswork or sheer coincidence, the stars only knew. That twenty seven of their number had been slain by he and his companions there was no mistaking. That twenty seven lashes of his chief aggressor's whips had been administered in sharp retaliation was possibly important. He had vowed that day that twenty seven of them he would strike down willingly, without a note of hesitation. But that had been the worst of days. In time, the dawdling ascent of dawn had then bedaubed the early morning sky with blushed complexion of a new day, and it seemed the night had failed to devour him in anguish. He had not been killed. And though uncertain why this was the case, he fashioned his own ideas, to pass the time and also to engage all conscious thought on something positive.

    His wrists were fettered that he could not seek to examine the damage done to that torn and screaming skin that now adorned his back. Still he refused to hunch at the shoulder, that might have offered small comfort as the wounds defiantly endeavoured still to heal. For if muscles tensed and sat in such a pose for long, the muscles he knew would harden, that he would never raise a sword and shield as he once had done. So he kept his shoulders straight and bore the pain in silence. He had no weapon currently, for they had robbed it of his person at the start, but this did not mean that he never would bear such again. He was stubborn and swollen by enough self-importance that he could not, nay, would not, believe that his current state of things would prove a permanent transition.
    Two eyes he still possessed, two ears. And enough wit to realise that he was in an opportunistic position; in so much that he strove to retain even the smallest shards of information which he might be able to one day report back to his command. How many the peoples of this land here numbered, what manner of arms they bore, and even (in time) the more familiar of sounds that made their language.

    For by the time this story comes into the telling, he had been held in their custody for many months. He had come to accept that he was largely reviled here, despised as were all of the would-be conquerors to these independent lands. Condemned he was to provide a living exhibition of most tragic evidence. He was overwhelming proof that the men of the west were not so godlike and half almighty as they deemed themselves with all their pomp and arrogance. The men who had killed his friends had easily stripped him of all pride and hint of dignity; they had brought him unto lowly and pitiful existence. And loud was this message proclaimed about every tiny scattered settlement they dragged him through.

    For leagues uncounted now, he had endured public humiliation that won his tormentors rousing support and ever rising numbers in the host that swelled as an engorged pustule with every day. They were furious that he and his fellow rangers had dared cross the borders of their precious land. They were fiercely determined to incite a great force deep in Harondor, that would be strong and brave enough to stand up and fight for their independence. Their borders would be strengthened. Even he had heard the tidings so oft now they started to make sense, under the relentless sun and dogged weariness of dejection.

    The fateful night had come at last when Heraasi had slain her lord and foul defiler. Domanol of Ithilien had been lost, as ever, in the throes of recreating Pelargir within his mind's eye. He struggled to recall the way that people there had been so grateful for the rangers' presence, and how eagerly they had waved the small band off, in pursuit of bandits who were ambushing supply wagons to the city. It all seemed so long ago now. And so very far away. But a man not far enough away had kicked out, demolishing all hope of repose for the ranger. This particular member of the Harondor host was one with the best grasp of making himself understood in the common tongue of Westron. And how Domanol despised him, hoping often that much which he was crudely threatened with was lost in translation. And never more than this night.

    "Kill me and be done with it, or else be gone with you," he muttered, irritated at having been kicked awake, apparently for no good reason.
    "Kill you ? No," had come the smug response. "Not yet, and not here."
    The ranger may have dismissed such nonsense and clung ever more desperate to thinking of Gondor's cities when he heard the terrible threat which would haunt him still in years to come, though he lay then in warm and comfortable bedding, safe from harm and all this just a hateful nightmare.
    "They will be done with you before too long," the Harondrim man hissed back, with vehemence. "To the grandest of all cities we go next. To the great ones. And there, once you have seen the might of our strength, they will rip your body from itself and bathe in your juices. The blood of Gondor be smeared under the feet of her worst nightmares and your sacrifice, your death shall please the masses, ensuring us victory against your befouled nation !"

    As threats go, it was different to all those he had been subjected to until this day. And the glee etched in his tormentor's expression was as sincere as anything he had ever known before, much to his great despair. There was of course a chance that it was but the mere conception a new lie, meant only to fill him with terror. But there would be no means of knowing for certain, until it should prove too late to act. Filled thenfore with the undeniable truth that he had long been rejecting, the imminence of his own demise, the ranger had but one thought in his mind. That if indeed his final hour approached with great urgency, he would give them proof that Gondor would not go gently into that slumber of all-encompassing darkness. He would at the very least, take the closest assailant to hand with him into whatever hell he yet had the strength to unleash.

    Which brings us back to where Heraasi had emerged and intervened upon the brutal violence there done. Just why she had chosen to finish off her fellow Harondrim's laboured demise she did not deign to clarify. What cause she had to sunder the wooden stake which saw the ranger tethered to that place, again, he could not guess. But when she turned and departed the scene without so much as a word, the surviving witness was unable to do anything but seek out some satisfaction. She had spared his life, in the very hour that he had most felt it threatened. And he would know more. Enquiring minds could not be stilled.

    Once inside the tent he saw that maybe her most recent slaughter was not so unselfish. She had murdered not one but two of her people on this night, which lessened her idolisation somewhat in his eyes, but still lent support to the inescapable opportunity nonetheless, of a potentially unforeseen alliance. If the Valar had decided to throw the man a handful of luck in fate, he was not like to dismiss it without closer scrutiny.

    Bloodied rock still grasped in both hands, he staggered in her wake across the expanse of the tent. When she turned, her hands were likewise full, heralding forth an earthware jug of what looked to be untainted water. He was thirsty and as close to death as he could ever recount having come before, therefore finding small danger in risking yet a little more. She accepted the rock mutely, in exchange for the refreshment, and withdrew to stow his makeshift weapon out of reach. Drinking deeply it was not long afore he retched desperately, and yet forced his still protesting throat to try again. He held the jug to dry, cracked lips with both hands before him. He did not see her movements. He did not have time to react. From behind she snaked the cord across his throat, pulling him in backstep with her, until his tender back crushed hard against another wooden pillar; this time in in unyielding support of the tent's canopy. As fast as his hands dropped the jug were the ends of her rope thrust abruptly under each arm, and back around the pole in growing strength and number, until he relented to his own stupidity. Moments, sheer moments, he had tasted freedom. Now his liberty was once against beyond his grasp. As a last ditch effort, he stretched out his bare foot for the sharpest fragment of the shattered water jug which he could reach and hide beneath his foot. She did not see. She did not so much as suspect. He leaned his head back against it's new prop and sought to relax his rushing pulse. It was not over, he was not yet done, and in truth he was no more the worse off than he had been moments before. It took a moment to remember that this woman was one of the enemy. He had been thrown by her apparent act of kindness. He would not be so foolish again.

    As though to extinguish any lingering embers of hope, she strikes a bracing blow with her fist against his jaw, that leaves him bloodied anew about the mouth. He does not respond with venom or rebuke and strange it seems that she looks disappointed; mayhaps as confused by his actions as he was from hers. Tall though she stands and lofty, backing off with eyes narrowed to slits as wily as a serpent. She removes her bloodied skirts then down toward the ground with all a jangle of bracelets and glitter of adorning gold that hangs about her neck as a heavy breastplate of embellishment. Now that the man's breathing has returned to semi-normal he can take the time to glean all manner of detail, as much as a man of morals can when faced with a nigh nude woman before him. It took every ounce of strength to recall that this beauty was also an enemy he would do well to observe with a keen eye, lest there prove any more surprises.

    For the first night in so many he could not recall their number, Pelargir was the furthest of all things upon his mind.
    Last edited by Ennora; 12/Jun/2013 at 04:38 AM. Reason: Bah, spellings. And changed title

  45. Ennora's Avatar
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    #45
    The Other Side of the Story
    Part 3 - Of Laldun
    2989, Third Age

    Laldun had encountered little difficulty in trailing the great host. The remnants of every village that he came across marked their passage south. Each shell of a settlement spoke of the same tragedy which had befallen his. Broken homesteads, charred and devastated, littered by the dead. Laldun found no trace of any other but himself that had survived their coming and yet remained capable to seek revenge.

    The reaping of his homeland had been three-fold. First the men of Gondor; all in black, and bearing the shining emblem of star, stone, and tree; and so "Gondorians" it had been assumed. They had swooped down from the northern borders, they had taken foodstuffs and armaments by force, striking down all those of the simple homestead who had dared to hinder them. Laldun had been such a one. Injured, but not killed, he had been found by others of his village and bidden away for healing.
    His body had lain still in quiet recovery when the second wave of interest had come upon them. A mass of warriors, drunk upon their lust for blood and vengeance. These were the indignant, the aftermath of that first attack. The local folk who could had taken up their own arms in defiance of such ill-favoured treatment by their long-time neighbours. They spoke of gathering the strength of Harondor, bringing all the scattered people together as one, and any who would volunteer to fight against the arrogance of Gondor was welcome among them. Laldun was in no position to join their company, but yet others of his village had set forth with this now greater number.
    He was still in the throes of a great fever when there had come the third and final wave upon his people. This time the sad remnants of the village were robbed not of their provisions, or their soldiers. This time it was the very life and breath of the people which was stolen. Those who ran, those who cowered, those without the strength to ride to war. These had been left largely unprotected, after all their mighty had taken the road of wrath, and these few remaining were now taken to be slaves. Laldun had escaped their notice, lying as he was amongst those already deep trenched in death. He was lucky. Luckier than others, at the least.

    Such was the fate of every village, every homestead he had come across since, on his quest for justice. Their direction told him all that he needed to know. South. They were headed toward the Mighty Harnen river. And what sort of Gondorians would head in the direction of their ancient enemy, with prisoners in tow ? Not toward the region of their embittered kindred, long estranged, in Umbar. For there they would be endangered for certain. The two nations had long stood as most stalwart foes, and although all Harondor dwelt in between them, hostility had not abated over many many years. No Gondorian with a head on his shoulders would willingly traverse toward Umbar, with so small a force as these apparently had done so. It did not make sense. And that was when he realised that nothing here was as it seemed. The world turned on it's head and the meagre trader contemplated where that left him, amongst the grand scheme of things.

    His people had evidently been deceived. And for that, Laldun meant to remedy this miscarriage of justice. But he could not ride on Umbar single-handed, to take back what had been robbed. Neither though could he sit in the ruins of all that he loved and wait for his nation to destroy itself for war heralded by strangers. He needed the strength of the host already incensed, he needed the people of Harondor. They spoke with many tongues and dialects, for history had seen them led by lords of all persuasion, but none of these had long survived or else conquered all the rest. Laldun was a trader, skilled in the communications of countless local speech. He imagined that this was the key to the Umbarian undoing. He would reveal all unto the misguided host that blindly followed lies and treachery, toward their doom. He knew not if this undertaking was beyond him, but he knew he had to try. For what other reason had the fates allowed him to survive ?



    He had found the host at last, yet alone as he was, dark eyes beheld his coming. There was a very awful reason why Heraasi's actions had been marked not yet. For those fiends responsible, those tricksters, those rogues of Umbar who had conspired this whole travesty to their own advantage .. they were busily engaged with Laldun. He had wondered how best he should make his way into the camp and commence the telling of fell truths to the misinformed volunteers that slept, oblivious. The scouts spared him the trouble.

    There was small need for a great watch about the borders of their camp, for what enemy lurked in this lonely vicinity that the mighty force gathered should fear ? All they came across they had consumed, one way or the other. Thus it was but a mere four shadows who came upon the stranger, and they wondered at his lurking. One of them starts, as he catches a glimpse of the stranger's face. For he has seen this man of Harondor before this day.

    On that swift but memorable occasion, whilst in the guise of a Gondorian raider, the scout had engaged Laldun in conflict. And Laldun had left the man something to remember him by, a bracing injury that tore the flesh close to his right-side eye. Laldun meets the hesitation of the scout with intrigue, observes the recent scar, and recounts what injury was done, and when ... The scout thus painted by his treachery as plain to see. He calls for his comrades to take the lone stranger by force toward their leader for immediate investigation. Little did they know, of course, that that self-same leader had already been relieved of all matters that concern the living. Heraasi, at this very moment, was making good her preparations for her coming out as his usurper.
    Last edited by Ennora; 02/Sep/2013 at 07:09 PM. Reason: typos. And changed title

  46. Ennora's Avatar
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    #46
    The Other Side of the Story
    Part 4 - Of Trouble
    2989, Third Age

    She was nothing if not an opportunist. The sundering of her sword against the wooden pillar outside of the tent had there rendered a treacherously sharp pinnacle, as though a giant thistle had bloomed forth from the ground. It was the perfect scaffolding on which to now impale a decapitated head in full view of the camp. The dead commander's face stares out in wordless horror as the sun now clambers higher for a better view of the macabre spectacle. Whatever else remains of the recently defunct commander, she leaves precisely where the fool had fallen. One foot still strewn about those drapings he had pulled from half-slumber and risen from repose to meet a sleep more everlasting. The residue of the second dead man she had dragged with great toil unto the abandoned bed and there immersed him in such comfort as did little good. Head caved in that any remnant of his features would pose difficulty for all attempts to name him. His tunic still drinks of the piercing wound about his abdomen, and an ever burgeoning rose of blood therein bears witness to the life that ebbs slowly away from him, unchallenged.

    The previously veiled entrance to the tent has been drawn back, to best showcase all the atrocities within. Heraasi is determined there shall be no doubt as to who had contrived this murder. They will observe her perilous nature and be suitably afraid, and impressed. Who now would dare not follow where she leads ? She is as capable as any here to lead the force against their enemy. A self-possessed, imposing figure she portrays, emblazoned only by the crimson sheen of blood-lit flesh. Not a scrap of cloth adorns her, and as though she suddenly finds meaning in the way her captive attempts to shade his glance, she grabs for the garb she had discarded. And yet even now as long stained fingers rake at the smooth skirts that (barely) preserve her modesty, the sinuous dance of her liberated folds she finds to be slick from previous exertion. Dark as deepest night is the clammy hair which sags about her face. She reaches for a goblet of rich, garnet-coloured wine to recover herself some.

    As the indistinct voice of some rabble carries, growing louder as it is advancing, Heraasi readies herself with an air of detachment and undesguised authority. The captive Gondorian behind her is already dissolved from all thoughts. This is her moment, her crowning accomplishment, and there is no way she means to allow for anything to soil the auspicious moment. She waits, apparently unafraid now that the time is upon her, although slightly impatient for the matter to come to dramatic climax. The sun is waking and with it a new dawn.



    It is no time at all before the scouts emerge, to blunder forth before her surprising audience. They drag between them the beaten and bloodied figure of Laldun, whose head hangs forlornly, as he seeks to stall their passage by dragging his feet. But all his meagre efforts are in vain. There comes then a moment of bewilderment for all as they process the scene afore them. Heraasi raises her head high, awaiting their submission or their ill-advised retaliation. She looks by all accounts both calm and confident.

    "The prisoner ?" the scout enquires gruffly, and Heraasi swallows her immense disgust and disbelief the both. The oaf has swiftly conjured up the notion that some dishevelled and pitiful waste from Gondor was more like to have accomplished this double murder than she; a woman, even of her standing wracked in blood before him. Technically, the hapless man had lent a willing hand, but it was she who had discharged the final blow in either case. Wordlessly, she draws the fools' attention to where her discarded plaything is yet tethered. Slowly then, she eyes the most forwardly of all the scouts before her, and raises her sword.

    She thinks that she knows how such a motley war host manouvres. The loyalty of all here amassed to their former leader was entrenched with fear and loathing from his unjust nature and corruption of power in his possession. She imagines that they all have as little reason to commiserate his demise. Particularly when she has put paid no small effort to suggest that the two deceased had been less than men when they had forced the blade of her revulsion. She understands that there are few among them now who even take a moment to consider her, a woman, as any form of rival. All that lusters in every heart here gathered is the leaping hope and want that this is the chance he has been waiting for. Few will not raise arms now, to demonstrate just why they, above all others, should command the host; in the most devout display of violence that they can muster. Strength and power, above all else. That is the only way. It is her way and she means to win, her way.

    "This host was led by men unworthy of such honour," she informed them, rolling the words sinuously over full lips. "This host was led by men who can be bested by a solitary woman. Speak fast now and prove yourselves more worthy. Or this host belongs to me now. And by my word alone will any live or die this day."

    The four are stunned at first into a silence, and then fury sinks through thickened skulls and tactile minds. But treachery is not unknown amidst their ranks and they can not yet be certain whether this arrogant wench stands alone, brazenly assuming what is not hers to command. They wonder, could the escaped slave, Laldun, have ignited rebellion in the host without their knowledge ? Had any heard him call out the true nature of their vast deceit before they managed to silence him ? The lead scout steps forward, just as she anticipated; giving small thought to the murdered leaders.
    For response to her declaration he throws a small scrap of flesh upon the ground at Heraasi's feet. It is all that Laldun himself can do, to not seek out the sight of his severed tongue, laid forth as it is, as though a gift. His one ambition about coming here already wrested from his means, and in so short a time. The scarred scout gestures for his fellows to deposit the mute intruder to one side. He is no fool. Clearly there are greater things here to attend to, than a now-harmless rouser of rumour.

    "Be warned woman," he divulged a counter-threat. "This is what comes of angering me. Just what I shall take from you, we shall learn soon enough." He glances to his leering companions who have already placed themselves that there is no escape here for the shrew but by the sword. "This shall not take long," he crows to his willing accomplices.



    As all thus armed and vengeful turn their full attention to the conflict now at hand, the scouts forsaking poor Laldun, who sinks to a heap upon the ground, his wrists bound cruelly behind him. Yet there is one about the tent who had not neglected to pay heed to his bedraggled presence however. Though he understood no matter of what had been spoken between the woman and her foes, the ranger had not missed the accident of chance that had transpired.

    Laldun's rasp of staggered breathing puts to ground all Domanol's thoughts of his own restricted throat. What tentative measures he had dared thus far, trying to work loose his bonds, had been thus far in vain. His wrists were still linked in iron before him, and the same rope that threatened to choke him held him far too tightly to the pillar that he could not grasp for his hidden piece of pottery. The shard beneath his foot remained a small discomfort of no good use at all, for there was no means by which he could now manage to work it into his hand. At least until there had abounded another captive; not only in quite dire need of aid, but also in a prime position to take full advantage of the optimistic plan. If Laldun did not die first, which looked highly possible.

    Domanol could no more whisper, hiss or whistle, or else gain the attention of the miserable native without attracting the others. Laldun himself was already grossly engaged in lamenting his hardship in the mud. There was only one thing for it, and that was for the ranger to kick the small sliver of potential salvation hard, into the reach of Laldun. Domanol had nothing to lose, for clearly the two unfortunates possessed a mutual enemy here. He could not free himself, but maybe Laldun could, and then the ranger could only cling to the hope that the brutally silenced one might entertain returning the favour, should it prove that he was able.
    Last edited by Ennora; 02/Mar/2014 at 11:50 AM. Reason: Bah, more typos. Hate typos.

  47. Ennora's Avatar
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    #47
    The Other Side of the Story
    Part 5 - Of Pharak
    2989, Third Age

    He stood before his comrades here as ever he had stood in life, the first to raise his voice in dispute or accord, the first to dare when others faltered. The first to meet Heraasi's dire threat. He was Pharak, long since named as fearless among his own people, though the jagged mark Laldun had fatefully hewn into his previously faultless countenance would brand him ever after as the man with the near-eyed scar. His fair complexion nonetheless still boasted of descent as though one of Castamir's devoted congregation, for no amalgamation had there been among his forefathers and folk of a darker-skinned persuasion with whom they had made confederation. He held true to the look of ancient Numenorean, no more the diluted than most who dwelt still in the southern reaches of Gondor or her scanty Northern branch. It was for this very reason that he found himself now in such a place as this, and such position.

    Since the enigmatic Thorongil had led a force from Gondor to annihilate the corsair fleet of Umbar, not a decade past, there were countless citizens in that affected harbour who had cried anew for vengeance and for war. Proudly had their force and that of their Haradrim compatriots been rising up in number and in hate, with thought of making up the fist of the Dark Lord, presenting as a tool for him to decimate their mutual enemy. The foundation of Umbar though was known to be her naval prowess, and thus was she now maimed; her greatest tool incapacitated. But as an injured beast she slunk among her ruins and there licked her wounds, portraying to the world as though one beaten, at the very least, for a short time. In secret she conceived small and more subtle means by which to secure her advantage over her accursed foe.

    Pharak's people were almost as well known for their slaving tradition as for their ruthless war fleets, ever needful of hapless fodder to do what the self-named lords and masters of their city would not deign to do themselves. For galleys must be rowed and cruel lords must be served, and those almighty emissaries out of Mordor must have their proof of allegiance from the fortified port settlement. Tributes were demanded to suffer the longevity of servitude in Nurn, and sacrifices for great ritual of conquest in blood that they would bathe in glory; all of this and more must demonstrate repeatedly just how faithful is Umbar to the cause with which it holds cruel sway. But why should Umbar usher up it's own folk as a sacrifice when her neighbours were so plentiful and for the large part, defenceless ? The disorganised rabble of tribes in Harad, it was said, had offered forth such tribute that Mordor looked on Umbar with comparative disdain and questioned just how ardently the corsairs were embroiled with the shadow. That sat not so well with many of the infamous port city and they had laid many hopes that this assignment may prove their allegiance and enthralling power for all to behold.

    Yes, slaving parties had gone north across the Harnen for many a long score of years. But this latest expedition was a fledgling concept of far greater ill intent. To ensure that, while Sauron's forces gathered in both strength and number, Gondor didn't look to further it's influence and draw strength of it's own from that easily swayed population just south of the Poros. The dreadful Thorongil had disappeared, back amongst the shadows from whence he had first emerged. The steward he had been allied with, Ecthelion, was now gone and in his seat of power there now stood another, Denethor his son. Umbar would soon test this new pillar of office, but ascertained to not be surprised again. And so, the plan was forged. To first rape the lands of Harondor and make good use of every resource they could seize, before Gondor ever looked to do so for themselves. Mordor was awoken, and Gondor would inevitably fall. All of Umbar was keen to assist in this endeavour against their ancient foe. This latest scourge was but an infant step in what would eventually reveal far more widespread shadow stretched across all Middle Earth.

    Pharak would see it done. He had sworn as much before a cheering Umbarian crowd, in memory of his brutally slaughtered father. And thus their efforts had commenced, at first bearing fruition far more swift than any might have dared predict. But now some brazen beauty thought to throw all their hard labour for the sake of the very lie she had been fed ? That she might rise up and lead this Harondrim host to find no small manner of glory for herself ? The irony was that she sought here to command a force that had small future, though she knew it not. Most that they had gathered up from plain and hill were merely fisherman and farmers. The most raw of material from which soldiers might be trained. At worst a force expendible, as fodder for the scourge of Gondor to throw it's first wave of fury at. And that would be all the fuel that it would take for vengeance to be sown for ever after in the folk of Harondor that already believed their neighbours to the north to be their enemy.

    This woman though, Pharak can well see, despite the damage done that mars his sight but temporary; she is dangerous. Heraasi. He knows not her name but he knows of her people, who were once considered mighty awe in Harad but fell askance in hostile conflict with another stronger tribe. Their remnants had long since settled between a rock and hard place, Harondor, and reputedly found compromise in deliberating over nearby folk of far less warlike tendency. Still for all that they were inherantly fierce and fury personified, with small love for the men of Gondor, they had taken for their mates the lesser bronzed descendants who abounded in this neck of the woods. The scarred scout could recall just as much in information about any of the villages their host here had originated from. By long labour and cunning most keen had he and his accomplices obtained the secret cultures and the languages of many peaceful folk that lived in Harondor. They had put many slaves taken from such a territory to great torment, and they had laid spies amidst the hills. The most cunning men in Umbar had gone to extraordinary lengths in order to prepare for every aspect of their northerly invasion. This woman would not be the instrument of Pharak's failure, not at this late stage. No matter the strength or quality that pulsed within her blood.
    Last edited by Ennora; 02/Mar/2014 at 11:50 AM. Reason: Typos

  48. Ennora's Avatar
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    #48
    The Other Side of the Story
    Part 6 - Of An End

    2989, Third Age


    Silence screamed aloud from the embittered cavern of Laldun’s dilated jaw. The gruesome cerise fountain of his life’s force ebbing away in ceaseless, violent, and unregulated spurts that he was powerless to stall. There was a precise art to removing tongues that might yet allow for the sufferer to live thereafter. But Pharak had been bereft of all time, consideration, or any cause that might have else left his unfortunate prisoner some long existence as a mute. And so, the hapless trader thrashed and flailed, all to no avail, as the severed muscle which had been ripped crudely from the grotto of his throat lay ever removed from further function. His fists remained clenched within the embrace of harsh-bound thongs, robbed of circulation and all opportunity. They would never reach the small sharp piece of pottery, nor grasp it’s promise of escape.

    There was none that could halt his death now, and few that even took the time to note it’s swift advance. His blood, his life, gushed like a river far removed from all means of repair. And yet he strove unto his dying gasp to retain hope, which remained evasive.

    Certainty fell like the heavy blow of a low-swinging axe, and Domanol let his head sink back against the wooden pole which held him both erect and helpless to intervene. Deep within the recesses of misery, he acknowledged more than merely his best chance of escape now departing. With it went a human life. And the fact that this recognition had come to him as but afterthought, after his own survival, served as cruel reminder as to just what desperation he had come.

    For as certain he was that the man of Harondor was alligned with those who had slaughtered his ranger brethrin, none should meet their end utterly overlooked; the passing of his finality unacknowledged. So he watched, that gruesome conclusion to the trader’s existence, certain that it would haunt him as many else had done before, and would continue to so do for the remainder of his life.

    Oh what pitiful abhorrence was mankind, that it so relished the elimination of itself. His own part played amidst this sorry play about the universe not forgot nor like to be forgiven. Should he live any longer duration that the maimed unfortunate who served to stain the ground. Unhappily there yet abounded a wide variety of other entertainment to which he might turn his attention. Oblivious to the plight of the man whose life they fought over, Pharak and Heraasi finally came to blows.

    (OOC : Real soon now. Sorry. Split post into two for sake of lengthy sizeable fight portion)

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