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Beren Camlost
30/Sep/2014, 11:03 AM
"Little do they know of our long labour for the
safe-keeping of their borders. Yet, I grudge it not."
~ Halbarad, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

"Elladan and Elrohir were out upon errantry :
for they rode often far afield with the Rangers of the North."
- Narrator, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

"Elrond will send out a fair number...Elrond is sending Elves, and they
will get in touch with the Rangers...we shall have to scour the lands
all round for many long leagues."
- Gandalf, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

__________________________________________________ _____________________

http://i244.photobucket.com/albums/gg19/Aigronding/Aigronding029/f22d7f05-1b6b-4f62-8170-95b96217d8be_zps87f25bcc.jpg
- (Image Sources: HERE (http://tyleredlinart.deviantart.com/art/forest-temple-concept-252197379), HERE (http://zhukzhenya14.deviantart.com/art/Eva-green-407794298), and HERE (http://jackieocean.deviantart.com/art/Ranger-43850152)) -

__________________________________________________ ______________________

"In Rhudaur for long there dwelt an
evil people out of the North,
much given to Sorcery."
~ Tolkien, The Peoples of Middle-earth:
The Tale of Years of the Third Age


"Although even before the Watchful Peace
ended evil things again began to attack
Eriador or to invade it secretly."
~ Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings:
Appendix A ~ The North-kingdom and the Dúnedain.


"Power had been seized by an evil lord
of the Hillmen, who was in secret
league with Angmar."
~ Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings:
Appendix A ~ The North-kingdom and the Dúnedain.

http://i244.photobucket.com/albums/gg19/Aigronding/Aigronding107/Compass_zps9406749a.gif

In the craggen heights of the North Downs there is a large cavern that leads deep under a cliff, to a natural earthen and stone stairwell that rises through a narrow cleft in the rock to a high and hidden ledge, overlooking the lowlands. In this place of sanctuary, secreted away from prying eyes, stands an outpost named Osdolen, a refuge of the Rangers of the North and stands several strong, silent guards : Mallamir and Artavor, Tarvegil and Valvegil, and brothers Ostover and Eärno (Hallas' NPCs) .

Osdolen's gates are strong, and lead through the outer stone walls into the age old streets, empty now save for the rangers who frequent them briefly, before moving on. There are two hundred residents here, driven from their lands and farms by ravaging hordes of orcs out of the Misty Mountains and ancient Angmar. Rangers crowd the taproom of the Four Winds, exchanging tales and gossip, the tongue of rumour and omens of ill augury are often spoken in this place. Warnings of grave peril are
given and heeded here. Plans to foil the cunning of many enemies. But even the best laid plans can go to waste...

Encamped within Osdolen are the Northern Dúnedain. Known also as the Rangers of the North, these hardy people are the descendents of the Dúnedain from their lost kingdom of Arnor. For over a thousand years they have been led by the Chieftans of the Dúnedain, heirs of Isildur and rightful claimants to the twin thrones of Arnor and Gondor. The current Chieftan of the Dúnedain is Aragorn son
of Arathorn, who travels Eriador in the guise of a ranger named Strider.
Second only to Aragorn is Halbarad [SCR recipients], trusted Captain of the Grey Company.

Players might enter this thread to take the Oath of the Rangers from its temporary
captain Imelda Cambel [Aigronding's NPC]
and offer their support to the Dúnedain. Players might also be returning veteran rangers,
bringing news and supplies from Bree and other
settlements to the south. Players can also make use of the hidden settlement to sharpen their weapon skills
under the calculating gaze of their comrades. Important news and events will also be revealed by the SCR recipient of Halbarad
or Aragorn within this thread, especially with them announcing news of new adventures
open to Rangers of the Lone Lands.
When there is no SCR recipient of Aragorn, Aigronding will RP him.

Any player is also free to form their own band of Rangers, with a unique name. Players can also join with an existing band
by gaining the permission of their chief within an RPG or open-RP thread. To create a new band, a player should find a willing comrade-in-arms to join with them.
The leader, or chief, of each band is expected to GM stories for their band within the open-RP threads of the Lone Lands

Locations:

The Courtyard -

Pace the grounds of Osdolen and train with Hirvegil (Hallas' NPC), weapon-master of the Dúnedain. Engage in a game of horseshoes by the stables, or barter skins for coin by the tannery. There are kennels, too; here there are hounds for the hunt to supply the Four Wind's kitchen but also dogs of battle may be chosen to aid you in combat or a canine may be chosen for a simple pet. There is also an archery range and mastered by Emeralda (Rillewen's NPC) but you don't have to RP here with her. (She will be using this link when she judges scores HERE (http://www.wizards.com/dnd/dice/dice.htm) ; Rill will be using the d-20 die)

The Wall -

Prowl the walls of Osdolen under the command of Captain Thalion (Tolkus), always keeping
watch on the lands to the north where the evil of Angmar once reigned ; the remnant of that once great fell nation is a clear and present danger.

The Library of Osdolen -

Among the buildings still intact within the ancient city, the Library of Osdolen
is an imposing, grey stone and white marble domed structure
surrounded by a copse of oak trees at the
heart of the refuge ; it's a repository of knowledge, custodian of information regarding
the lands of Eriador and distant Wilderland specifically.
Its caretaker is a Dúnedan senior, Eriston (Aig's NPC), who had once been a Ranger of the North in his youth.

Sad Ainos -

http://i244.photobucket.com/albums/gg19/Aigronding/Aigronding119/990e4ea9-40f4-4a86-b66a-86ade447845e_zps5f117e67.jpg
- (Valar stained glass, Source (http://quenya101.files.wordpress.com/2013/03/valar.jpg)) -

A blue granite chapel of Eru and the Valar that sits high above the hidden city on its tallest peak
so that its west facing stained glass windows - one for each of the Valar, are lit by the morning light.
Inside the blue-tinged stone holds great carved and glazed murals depicting the entirety of the years of the trees
nd it is said that the ever constant winds that whistle through the old stonework sound like choirs of angels.
~ Text by Winterwolf

The Four Winds - Tavern and Council Hall

Here the rangers of the north exchange news and stories over a brimming tankard of Tubeng, a curiously strong cider brewed by the rangers. New arrivals to Osdolen might visit here, and take the Oath of the Rangers. Whoever holds the SCR of Strider can accept a new Ranger by giving the Oath ; when no Aragorn SCR is awarded, Aig's NPC Khallador Galerida is the one they should speak to but for this thread you may speak to Imelda since she is captaining Osdolen in her relative's absence. The tavern is owned by Abrazân (Moriel's NPC), a middle-aged Dúnadan of grim complexion, but a friendly tongue. He is ever-present behind the bar to dispense food, drink, and conversation. The Four Winds is a plain establishment, with its heavy wooded chairs, tables, and benches, but chances are if your pleasure in food and drink is simple and hearty, Abrazân will be able to produce it.
The following staff positions are available at the Four Winds; if you are interested in working here, please PM Moriel.


Staff:

Tavernkeeper - Abrazân (Moriel's NPC)

Asst. Bartender - Roadan (Aigronding's NPC)
If you want something to drink or eat, speak to Roadan rather than Moriel's character
and he will RP with you. She's just lurking on the Plaza for a while.
Server - Attûbêl Gûrphen (Rillewen's NPC), Henry Cambel (Aig's NPC)

Kennel-master - (Open)

If you wish to add more locations within Osdolen grounds, please PM Aigronding
so we can disscuss your idea toegther before I edit it in the OP.

http://i244.photobucket.com/albums/gg19/Aigronding/Aigronding108/scroll-thinger_zps667931eb.jpg

In This Activity:
[Text by Aigronding and Winterwolf]

[I]The Rangers of Arnor have issued from Osdolen on a quest, but not one of normal venture. For there was found mention
of a great cache of weapons and armour crafted by the finest smiths of Imladris and laid with spells to
resist the spellcasters of Rhudaur when the nation
was once a threat to Arnor and Rivendell. However instead of a plain path to the hidden cache
the cunning Chieftain Aranarth disguised
clues of its whereabouts among messages of his guard.

With Arthedain long destroyed one of these ancient texts have been
aquired by Taerion Greyfang [Winterwolf] and they travel under the leadership of Khallador Galerida
to the ruins of Annuminas so they may seek out these ancient enchanted weapons.

But unbeknownst to them, they are not the only ones to aquired a "Shopping List" - mages also seek the cache.
Aura Camlost [Aigronding], Witch-Queen of Rhudaur, plans to bend the weapons' power to
the advantage of her casters before each can be used against her people.


Rules :

- In-Character posts only please. Include your location at the top of each post. Any out-of-character remarks like questions or planning discussions can be taken to the Lone Lands Activities OOC (http://www.lotrplaza.com/showthread.php?75726-Lone-Lands-Activities-OOC).

- Membership of the Rangers is available to all Plaza members, regardless of Area and Region, as long as they are playing Dunedain
of Eriador. Relatives or friends from Gondor are happily permitted to visit or adventure with their northern relations/mates.


- RP'ers who would like to play Elven characters at Osdolen or their adventures within this thread (or any other Dunedain activity) must PM Aigronding or Quill. and with the understanding that permission might not be granted. Aigronding, Quill, and Moriel - Elrond's Elf-Dúnadan

liaison - will be monitoring all Elf interactions within Osdolen and outside of it, observing that all Elf characters behave without rudeness or condescension. The SCR holders of Elladan and Elrohir have permission to associate with the Rangers at Osdolen as do all elven character of the Halcyon Guard if they are involved in a joint RPG with the Rangers of the North...but any sign of enmity towards the Dunedain will not be tolerated.

- If you would like to be a hillmen/hillwoman spellcaster in the Coven of Rhudaur, please PM Aigronding to discuss your character before posting, tweaking him or her if necessary. Below are the icons for each rank (the whole list will be shown in the Lone Lands Archives at some point in the near future, including how the promotion system works); Aigronding will give one based on activity in Eriador. Those who have been/are threadrunners will start out with the third rank, sorcerer/sorceress, in the Coven.







Rank 1 - Mage:
http://i244.photobucket.com/albums/gg19/Aigronding/Aigronding095/Mage_zpse04003d2.jpg

Rank 2 - Warlock/Witch:
http://i244.photobucket.com/albums/gg19/Aigronding/Aigronding096/Warlock_zps640768ee.jpg

Rank 3 - Sorcerer/Sorceress:
http://i244.photobucket.com/albums/gg19/Aigronding/Aigronding097/Sorcerer_zps5117757f.jpg

Please additionally use one of these
Dark Tree of Rhudaur standards
in all your posts.
http://i244.photobucket.com/albums/gg19/Aigronding/Aigronding103/Tree-no-square_zps49142e46.png http://i244.photobucket.com/albums/gg19/Aigronding/Aigronding098/Coven-banner_zps6055de3a.png http://i244.photobucket.com/albums/gg19/Aigronding/Aigronding104/Tree-square_zps8e149e88.png

All Rank III Casters may use the circular one below.
http://i244.photobucket.com/albums/gg19/Aigronding/Aigronding105/Circular-tree_zpsac632c44.png




- To read about Aura and Cynwrig (the leaders of the Coven, Aig's NPCs) and the history of the Coven as it exists in the present you may use the following links:


Aura and Cynwrig (http://www.lotrplaza.com/showthread.php?75661-Eriador-Character-Submissions&p=621839#post621839)

Siora [Ercassie's NPC. Lately executed by Aura] and Drest, her brother. (http://www.lotrplaza.com/showthread.php?75661-Eriador-Character-Submissions&p=622236#post622236)

Mercy (http://www.lotrplaza.com/showthread.php?75661-Eriador-Character-Submissions&p=622177#post622177)

The Mages I (http://www.lotrplaza.com/showthread.php?21480-The-Bree-land&p=622270#post622270), The Mages II (http://www.lotrplaza.com/showthread.php?21480-The-Bree-land&p=622292#post622292)

Drest of the Stoneclaws I (http://www.lotrplaza.com/showthread.php?21697-Angmar-The-Northern-Lands-Free-RP&p=623577#post623577), Drest of the Stoneclaws II (http://www.lotrplaza.com/showthread.php?21697-Angmar-The-Northern-Lands-Free-RP&p=624009#post624009), Drest of the Stoneclaws III (http://www.lotrplaza.com/showthread.php?21697-Angmar-The-Northern-Lands-Free-RP&p=624016#post624016), Drest of the Stoneclaws IV (http://www.lotrplaza.com/showthread.php?21697-Angmar-The-Northern-Lands-Free-RP&p=624051#post624051)

Familiar I (http://www.lotrplaza.com/showthread.php?21386-Castles-in-the-Sand&p=623161#post623161), Familiar II (http://www.lotrplaza.com/showthread.php?16228-Paths-of-Eriador&p=623685#post623685)(Takes place two years prior to current events)

- The season in this Osdolen thread is spring, shortly before the upcoming Revenge of Rhudaur RPG.





http://i1080.photobucket.com/albums/j334/Winterwolf27/Icons/The%20Key%20Locations%20of%20Osdolen%20III%20and%2 0RoR.png

- The descriptions of the featured places
were created by Wolf and Aigronding,
using the LOTR Project map -

Beren Camlost
30/Sep/2014, 11:38 AM
"She wore blue velvet
Bluer than velvet was the night
Softer than satin was the light
From the stars
She wore blue velvet
Bluer than velvet were her eyes..."
~ Blue Velvet, from the Lana Del Rey cover

"How dull it is to pause....
To rust unburnish'd, not to shine in use!
As tho' to breathe were life!"
~ from Ulysses, by Alfred, Lord Tennyson

During the night of Aragorn's visit
at the end of Osdolen II.


Cambel Tower

http://i1195.photobucket.com/albums/aa393/1dr3am3dadr3am/Plaza%20Graphics%20for%20Others/Character%20Icons%20F%20to%20J/Imelda12.jpg http://i1080.photobucket.com/albums/j334/Winterwolf27/Icon%20Shop%20Creation/Order%202/Young%20Henry.png http://i1080.photobucket.com/albums/j334/Winterwolf27/Icons/Ranger%20Icons/ArnorianRangerRank3VeteranRangeroftheNorth.png



Imelda Cambel - a slender and fair, brown-haired Ranger of the North - struck a match against her bedside table and lit the beeswax candle on it. She left the bedroom in her black woolen eveningdress, with only the flame to light her way to the kitchen. She was tried and tested in battle, had seen friends and close ones wounded or die, but it was always like this when Thandir, her husband, was away on errantry - she couldn't sleep, afraid what terrible dangers could befall him.

Suddenly, her little boy, Henry, twelve years-old, came running out of his chamber. He was short like his father but not as stocky, a skinny child with very pale skin. His nightclothes were damp, clinging to his sweating body.

"Are you okay, honey?" she asked worriedly. Her son's green eyes were enlarged enormously with fright. "Did you have a bad dream?"

He ran to her wordlessly and flung his thin arms around his mother, pressing his face against her stomach firmly, sobbing.

"Tell me what's wrong, sweet boy," Imelda crooned, softly stroking his spine. "Talk to me about a nightmare."

He mumbled something.

"What was that?" she said, cupping his cheek as she gently lifted his gaze to hers.

"A vision, not a nightmare," Henry explained, stammering, tears streaming over jawline. The boy was a seer like Malbeth and Glirhuin of old. He could see things before they happen, glimpses of the future.

"About who, love?" Imelda calmly inquired, a chill racing up her back.

Henry gulped. "Uncle Kal."




*

http://img692.imageshack.us/img692/6796/khalladoricon.gif http://i1195.photobucket.com/albums/aa393/1dr3am3dadr3am/Plaza%20Graphics%20for%20Others/Character%20Icons%20F%20to%20J/Imelda12.jpg http://i1080.photobucket.com/albums/j334/Winterwolf27/Icon%20Shop%20Creation/Order%202/Young%20Henry.png
http://i1080.photobucket.com/albums/j334/Winterwolf27/Icons/Ranger%20Icons/ArnorianRangerRank3VeteranRangeroftheNorth.png http://i1080.photobucket.com/albums/j334/Winterwolf27/Icons/Ranger%20Icons/ArnorianRangerRank6Captain.png


"I saw a lady in a blue strapless velvet dress and she wore a necklace of great blue sapphires," Henry told Khallador Galerida, Aragorn's lieutenant of Osdolen, on the terrace. "She had long tumbling hair dark as coal dust and smooth white skin. Her eyes were deep blue, almost violet." The child sat still in awed silence for half a minute. "She was beautiful," he uttered, enraptured, his voice so low Imelda and Khallador needed to ask him to repeat himself. "She was beautiful," Henry reiterated, louder this time, snapping out of his reverie. "Too beautiful to be human."

"Where was she, son?" said soft-spoken Khallador, leaning against one of the pillars supporting the stone arches framing the balcony's panormanic view of the ruined Hidden City and its twinkling lights. He was a tall, muscular Dunadan with shoulder-length black hair. He was clean-shaven but had a kind rugged, brooding handsomeness that most women, even some ellyth, found rather appealing.

"I dunno, a blue starry night over someplace marshy like Swanfleet or the Midgewater," Henry replied, accepting a steaming mug of chamomile lavender tea from his mom. The herbal drink would sooth his nerves and enable him to sleep better. He took a moment to inhale the faint balsamic, woodsy undertone before speaking again. "Uncle Bear was with her." Henry pursed his lips grimly. "She ordered him to kill you-"

"Balderdash," Khallador said quietly, emerald eyes widening in astonishment.

"It's true," the boy glumly responded. He blew on his tea and took a sip as Imelda sat on the couch with him, snuggling. "She told him to kill you but he wouldn't do it. He took his elvish blade from its scabbard and tried to cut you down but Beren couldn't do it. He seemed like he was in a daze as if she cast a spell on him, one that he tried resisting. Beren told her no, that he couldn't kill his own family. She became enraged and blasted your chest with red lightning." Henry's blue eyes glistened with tears. "You fell in the water, Uncle Kal. Dead, I think. My vision ended aruptly, so I don't really know if you or Uncle Bear will survive or not."

"Does she sound familiar to you?" Imelda, breaking the graveyard heavy silence, asked her husband's relative as she combed Henry's bedraggled hair tenderly with her fingertips. "You've known your cousin for a long time."

"Camlost and his youngest sister - Bridget - fought as freedom-fighters in the eastern lands for years, that's how they met Tharmáras, Garavan, and Mauya," said Khallador, maintaining his calm facade although all his nerves were lit aflame by the prophet's ill news. The boy was never wrong. "There's so much about his life I don't know about and I have a feeling he's even kept secrets from Miranda Lynn Clementine, his sweetheart and chronicler in Combe Valley. If he knows this sorceress from his journeys in Rhûn, Khand, Harad, Umbar, Hildorien, the Last Desert, or Dark Land I am certain the mage and I have never been introduced."

"She has this...seductive and husky, whispering voice. Talks with an accent I've heard the women of the hill people use before in Dunland," Henry put in. Imelda and Thandir had moved from Hopewell to Breetown, taking their son with them, following Ursula's sudden disapperance but Henry often followed his parents on their assignments when they would be gone for a long time.

"There are casters among the Dunlendings?" Imelda, raising her eyebrows, asked Khallador.

"None that I'm aware of," he answered bleakly, straightening, his brawny profile illumined in silver moonbeams as he walked toward the decorative wooden glass doors of the terrace. "Their kin lived in Rhudaur but the coven of Morgul practitioners were destroyed or chased off by the Dunedain and Elves long ago. To think that some of them survived to the present day troubles me..." The black-robed Ranger paused. "I need some sleep. I must speak with the others at the Four Winds in the morning. I have been studying the records Taerion gave me and found something interesting. There is a mission I will need to lead-"

"Stay here, Uncle Kal, where you'll be safe!" demanded Henry. Imelda nodded firmly in agreement.

"I grow weary of standing idle here in Osdolen while many Dunedain risk their lives beyond our walls," said Khallador somberly, shaking his head. He knelt, rolling a strong hand over Henry's unruly hair. "There are many people who've tried to kill me, mate, but I'm still here and they are not." He grinned at the youngster, a cocky lopsided smile that looked better suited on Beren's good-looking roguish features. It almost gave Khallador, a rougher man, a sinister countenance. "You didn't see me die and I'm pretty sure I won't. I outwit my enemies. I always find a way, son."





http://i244.photobucket.com/albums/gg19/Aigronding/Aigronding089/a61f332f-f7e4-4dba-b0e6-9257d4287f6e_zps610f6f06.jpg
- Source: (The lovely and sinister Eva Green (http://myfdb-main.s3.amazonaws.com/image/tear_sheet/4796/54c4ce9f1c1b42a0ea72/original),
from her Midnight Poison perfume advertisement) -

Beren Camlost
30/Sep/2014, 11:42 AM
The Next Morning,
A Day After Aragorn's Visit
in Osdolen II.



The Four Winds

"I'm excited about this venture, so I'll discuss it with everyone assembled now," said Khallador Galerida, his lean and wiry build outlined in the golden light of daybreak streaming through the taproom's windows. The stubbled outpost commander wore light-green trousers which fit the powerful muscles of his legs snugly and a dark-green short-sleeved leather jerkin with brass buckles over the grey fabric of his cotton undertunic. On his large hands were well-worn and fingerless hunter-green gloves. "Any stragglers or Dúnedain arriving lately after we are gone can be debriefed by Imelda and rendezvous with us in the wild, tracking out passage."

Imelda nervously adjusted her posture on the seat of her chair, avoiding eye contact with others. She wore ankle-boots and tight black leggings. The spring weather was fair so she didn't bother wearing a cloak but had donned a white ruffled shirt and a royal-blue underbust bodice.

"She'll be captaining Osdolen while I lead a team to Annuminas with Taerion," announced Khallador, giving her hand an affectionate squeeze.

"You're just the executive officer of the largest Dúnedain station in Eriador. It'll be a piece of cake, right?" said Helchon, a cheerful and sarcastic Ranger who hailed from Bree like Imelda. She rolled her hazel eyes with a smirk, tossing a balled-up nakin at the joker's unshaven angular face. "So what's in Annúminas, chief??" he asked, excitement kindling a bright light in his icy-blue eyes, as he poured blood orange syrup over his pancakes. The bottles shipped to Osdolen were generously gifted to the Four Winds from some wealthy, enterprising Forlindon elf-lord named Tharmáras Isilherven who Beren was related to....

"Elvish armour and weapons once crafted to resist the dark magic of Morgul casters," Khallador explained to him and those Rangers surrounding the darkly-handsome youth. "In one of the ancient texts Taerion gave to me, I deciphered codes written by Chieftain Aranarth which were clues to his royal guard concerning various arms that were hidden away in the rubble of Annúminas. These were made by the finest smiths of Imladris and laid with spells to counter magical attacks of the Coven of Rhudaur when they once contested us and the Fair Folk long ago during Arnor's last days."

"Are you saying that the mages have resurfaced in the region?" Helchon, sobering, asked pointedly.

"No," said Khallador, straight-faced, "but I am saying I'd rather ensure us protection against the witches if any were to appear unexpectedly." He laced his hands together on the table. "I need a party of Rangers. We leave within the hour. Who will go to Lake Evendim with me and Taerion?" He beamed at the older man. "Annúminas is Taerion's homeground and he is the primary preserver of its lore as well as its strongest defender," Khallador praised the veteran openly to their peers. "It's by his commitment to and knowledge of the town that I have chosen him as my co-leader in this expedition. I must ask you give him the same level of respect you all have given me.



GM UPDATE:

Rangers

The subplot of Osdolen
will feature the Coven of Rhudaur
pitted against the Rangers of the North
in a race to obtain the enchanted elvish armour and weapons.

Those of you who wish to remain at Osdolen
may do so and I'll have my NPC Imelda stationed
at the outpost to command it and officiate the Oath
of Service for new recruits.

Those who want to go with
my NPC Khallador to search Annúminas for the cache, have
your character(s) sign up now, telling character he or she or they
will accompany him and get yourselves ready, meet him at the Gates.

Casters

I will be writing an update for you soon
as Aura, Cynwrig, and Aileen.

Isolde
14/Oct/2014, 05:00 AM
Four Winds
Isolde & Bulgard
They'd been seated at a none to far table, enjoying conversation and each others company when they both paused to listen to Khallador describe the mission at hand. At the conclusion Bull turned slightly and spoke to Issy.

"Witches?" I was never convinced they really existed but then there were walking, talking wizards sooo..why not witches? Issy just looked at me and grinned. Did she know something I didn't. "What's the grin for?"

"Well if you must know, Bear once dated a woman that I would swear was one. Perhaps it was just her personality, I'm not sure." She shrugged and grinned again.

A small chuckle came from my throat. The woman amazed me, she found humor in the oddest things. "Well if they do live I think it would be best to join Khallador and protect ourselves." She nodded while I took another drink.

"Let me finish this drink and we'll tell Khallador." Issy tipped her cup up and emptied it in three swallows while Bull watched with an amused grin. Damn the woman can drink, he thought to himself. She sat the cup down and nodded to him. "Ready."

I wasn't sure if it was a question or a statement so I took one last drink and stood while pushing my cup away.

"Khallador, we'll accompany you." I motioned towards Issy and myself. "We'll get our packs ready and meet you at the gates if it's all good for you."

Beren Camlost
14/Oct/2014, 04:16 PM
"By the pricking of my thumbs,
something wicked this way comes."
~ from Macbeth Act IV Scene I

http://i244.photobucket.com/albums/gg19/Aigronding/Aigronding105/Circular-tree_zpsac632c44.png

" 'Tis now the very witching time of night
When.... hell itself breathes out
Contagion to this world: now could I drink hot blood
And do such bitter business as the day
Would quake to look on."
~ from Hamlet Act III Scene II


In the South,
midnight

http://i244.photobucket.com/albums/gg19/Aigronding/Aigronding106/665179c3-1253-48d2-86ed-3f01519d1869_zpsf1ead767.jpg
- (Source: Hidden Harbour (http://www.deviantart.com/art/Hidden-Harbour-381115101)) -


"It was told in "Concerning Galadriel and Celeborn"
that in the war against Sauron in Eriador at the end
of the seventeenth century of the Second Age the
Númenórean admiral Ciryatur put a strong force
ashore at the mouth of the Gwathló (Greyflood),
where there was "a small Numenorean harbour" (p.251).
This seems to be the first reference to that port, of which
a good deal is told in later writings."
~ Christopher Tolkien,
Unfinished Tales - The Port of Lond Daer



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"Aileen, your mother approaches with Drest and Ashclaw," Filrain announced calmly, entering the child's tent.

The freckled, raven-haired girl dressed in suede pants with fringe and a beaded buckskin jacket sighed. She nodded at the blonde demon and removed the magical scrying necklace. It afforded the user a glimpse into a region's past. Aileen Camlost felt a pang of sadness, banishing the glorious sight of Lond Daer in its ancient majesty. The eleven-year-old filled a bejeweled ebony bowl with Gwathló water and hovered her small palm over it. The child's hand glimmered with a dim lavender glow, magicking the contents inside the vessel. The still surface brilliantly sparkled, forming a vivid image of four garrisons at the mouth of the estuary and the fair image of an auburn-haired sorceress with blind milky-white eyes.

"Hey, Mercy," said Aileen, waving hello at her scrying teacher as the light about her hand failed. She was roughly nudged aside by Aura Camlost, her mother, and would have fallen on the long grass below her tooled ankle boots if her familiar hadn't been ready to catch her.

"You are in place, excellent," said Aura with her husky whispering voice, violet irises agleam. The Witch-queen of Rhudaur wore a pleated leather skirt, ornate bronze vambraces engraved with the Dark Tree, and a golden breastplace exquisitely shaped to fit her womanly curves over a black ringmail hauberk. Her smooth skin and the soft sable hair loosely framing her beautiful ivory face was scented with a sultry and feminine perfume, a magical blend of strawberries and luscious red apple notes with a seductive kiss of black lotus petals. The slim Morgul practitioner was armed with two enchanted swords which siphoned a person's strength and stamina, embuing her with greater energy and strength."Attack the garrison nearest you," Aura directed Mercy, her advance guard in this enterprise. The air round the premier caster crackled with an almost electric heat as the rage within her callous heart builded hotly. This area had once been home to the kin of Rhudaurian Hill-men, Aura's people, and many ancestors of the Dunlendings whom the Númenóreans chased off centuries ago after the coming of Tar-Aldarion. She wanted revenge."We will strike at the three garrisons beyond the river so none of the Rangers will have a chance defend their friends on your side of the conflict. If we must speak together that will be done mind-to-mind, Mercy. Kill the Dúnedain. Use any ability you've learned to master to accomplish their destruction; spare only a few for Drest to play with." Aura gave the trusted lieutenant time enough to acknowledge the simple order then she swept the palm over the water, ending the message abruptly.

She regarded her soft-hearted and rebellious, pre-pubescent daughter coldly with a derisive laugh. "Hey, Mercy,"she said, mimicking Aileen in a sweet girly voice, waving her hand ecstatically. She pulled her child close and Filrain attempted to stop her but Aura gave the dark angel a frosty stare that would have frozen the fires of Mount Doom. Aileen's familiar took a step back reluctantly, glaring a hateful stare at the Witch-queen."This is not a sociable nature walk nor a canoe outing," Aura said through her white, immaculate teeth. She squeezed her daughter's wrist, making it hurt. "We are ready to reveal ourselves to the Rangers of the North and their distant allies, the elves of Rivendell, fully now. You are the princess of Rhudaur and must have a part in this campaign, including all contests to follow. No more little kids stuff. This is war. Do you understand?" She gave her silent daughter a crueller shake and repeated herself with demonic resonance, patrician features contorting into a fearsome visage of a maddened devil.

"Yes, milady," stuttered Aileen, trying hard to control her bladder so she wouldn't wet her silken drawers. Ma terrified her.

"Let's move," said Aura, speaking to all, favoring a goddess-like countenance again. She stormed out of the tent in a brisk, threatening masculine stride that made Aileen's nerves tingle cooly with dread. The trees of the woods in which they were encamped cloaked the sluggish river in great shadows which gave the old outpost its name, Shadowhaven. They had grown high in the millennia following the time Dúnedain had laid axes and saws to trunks for miles long before Sauron set Minhiriath aflame. The great winds of the territory's salty air blew wisps of Aura's dark-brown locks astir as she magically alerted twenty casters to her inner circle, rushing toward the riverbank. Ten witches and warlocks were enchanting logs into forms of longboats to reach the western coast. The three garrisons, identical to the one Mercy was assaulting, were L-shaped buildings made of flint-faced white Lindon stone; each were reconstructed by the Rangers for habitation and out of them, joining the sentries who had spotted Mercy, came Dúnedain men and women by the dozens. They wielded swords and spears and bows, risen hastily from slumber by the din of battle and screams of the dying.

"Have you prepared the hillmen fighters, Drest?" Aura asked, grasping his arm tightly, her violet eyes kindled with a menacing light. He assured her of his experimentation, that the Dunlendings would press on if hurt or maimed. They would fight to the death.

"Board the ships!"Aura Camlost firmly ordered the Coven as she pulled Aileen urgently along. A wicked grin curved her lips widely, taking point with her daughter and Filrain. The Witch-queen stood at the prow of the foremost boat, motioning for Ashclaw and Drest to join her. "This is The Day you've been training for, recruited for, and longed for! Tonight, you will wrest this land from the clutches of the Dúnedain! It once belonged to our fathers; today, it shall belong to their children!" She lifted her swords high and sizzling scarlet flames of Morgul lightning curled around her raven-marked blades."Let them bear witness to our ferocity at last!" Aura shouted with hysterical stridency above the howling gusts, spittle flying from her mouth like a rabid vixen, as her ship rowed inexorably toward the far beach,"and may their friends and kin tremble and cry in lamentation when they lay their eyes on the mutilated flesh of the Rangers they've loved and lost!" Her violet eyes flared with crimson intensity as she angled her swords at the water. "Have you heard of the Marsh Witch, Dúnedain?" Aura hollered. She tossed her head back with a laugh. Her body burned like a torch, lighting the purple midnight with coruscating radiance. She pointed her weapons toward the water. Aura put forth her will, twisting the animals of the deep into frightening savage beasts she could manipulate. "BEHOLD HER NOW, THE QUEEN OF RHUDAUR!"

From the depths of the Greyflood slithered monstrous eels and large leaping fish with razor jaws which sprouted webbed feet and nasty hooking claws as they cleared the water. The slimey snake-like creatures crushed several Dúnedain at once, releasing torturous electricity, and the frogstrosities ripped into other Rangers with wedge-shaped teeth and sickle-sharp talons.

"Ashclaw, I require your aid," said Aura, snapping her red gaze on the sorcerer. "Fill the minds of the Rangers with madness. Plague them with lethal halluincations and make them fight each other. Drest-" she whipped her head to face him, pretty hair flying."We need your bird in the air. Shytha could lead crebain in the territory, if possible?" And indeed it was possible. By the time her boat met the coastline, flocks of raucous crows led by Drest's huge craban familiar descended on the wailing Rangers, pecking out their eyes and tearing their skin with rending beaks.

Aura vaulted from her ship like a bat out of hell, swords flashing with blinding speed. She cleaved two heads immediately, parried a blow of a Ranger's spear, and gutted him dead. Sinuous emerald tendrils spiraled up her toned, well-muscled arm and, in seconds, the writhing bright green beams enveloped her whole body, saturating her with the Ranger's physical power. With enhanced prowess, she ran across the gravelly sand and through the broad swath of reedy ground with the fearsome speed of a lioness, every attack a killing blow.

Aileen was close behind, grim-faced, assailing Dúnedain with coruscating arcs of lavender Morgul lightning, burning their bodies to unrecognizable smoking husks; Filrain kept near her, the fallen valley-nymph entrapping Rangers for Drest with ropy vines hanging from the tall trees and enshrouding them in stony cocoons with roots bursting out of the ground. The brawniest men collapsed, shrieking, as Ashclaw riddled their thoughts with terrible, malevolent fears that would surely destroy them. The wounded hillmen were literally unstoppable in the bloody clash; the ruthless braves were injured but, perfected by Drest's machinations. They did not falter in the chaos but slew their enemies in a bezerker fierceness until they were killed with desperate violence.

The Dúnedain were, for a change, utterly overwhelmed.



"I'll find a day to massacre them all
And raze their faction and their family..."
~ Tamora, Queen of the Goths,
from Titus Andronicus, Act I Scene I

GM UPDATE:

Casters

Cassie, Rior, and Wolf:

Respond or observe Aura's actions as you will
and the battle surrounding your warring
character on the western and eastern beaches.
Use your Morgul talents, familiars, or any
objects of normal/enchanted power to destroy the
Dúnedain. You can murder at least 10 in your initial
posts. We'll keep up the fighting for 2 more rounds
before looking for the library.



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Ercassie
16/Oct/2014, 11:09 PM
Drest Stoneclaw and Shytha - Fell spirit


His eyes were hollows, each an abyss wherein pulsed anticipation for the hunt. Drest's face was no longer young and never had been handsome. But still his sharp features pierced the night, with undeniable intent. His brisk whiskers were elaborately curled to new cruel lengths for the occasion and his rich robes set him apart from the horde of similarly featured folk who gathered all about. Boned fingers caressed the grisly pendant that hung in pride of place around his throat. It swung against his chest as though a medal and he glowed with the assumed self-satisfaction of an arrogant winner before the race had ever been run. The token was growing ever cumbersome with all it's renewed weight. Soon he would have to consider some other means of keeping the source of his spell close to hand. Without it, he could but hold mastery of one soul at a time. Experimentation would aide his evolvement though. He never tired of the intrigue and unknown outcomes of his investigations ..

Aura threw back the folds of her daughter's tent like a gleaming pearl emerging from the base mouth of an oyster. She drew close, travelling a path of majesty, while her small spawn idled behind her awkwardly toward the boats. When she called upon her acolytes, the woman's touch glittered with the thrill of what would come. Drest rounded indented globes of obsidian to properly meet her enquiry.

"They will give their all," he trawled the words like gravel through his teeth.

It was not an unusual pledge for any soldier to make to his commander, but when Drest said that his gathered army would give their lives to further the Witchqueen's ambitions, he meant it literally. The Hillmen had been casted. Every one had surrendered some blood, or tooth, or spit ... something of their very selves. They did not rightly understand of course, but that did not matter. They trusted his word for they had seen his power. They felt it still ... or rather they felt nothing, thanks to his enchantment. Taut fists smashed enthusiastically against their neighbours' faces as they tested their new advantage, blood broke against battered jaws and they laughed to observe it without the concern it usually heralded. They guffawed, robbed of all pain. They could and would now face their battle free of any fear for agony. And they were drunk upon the faith of such potential.

"Weapons !" Drest summoned them to attention. The Hillmen turned as a tide, raising primitive axes and fierce spears to the sky in an unspoken roar of accord. Several of both, axes and spears, slipped from the soldiers' unresponsive touch to meet the ground, uselessly. The scowling Sorceror growled discontent at their embarassing failure as the men sought to properly grasp and retain hold. The eyes of the Princess of Rhudaur would soon be upon them. Those few still acclimitising to their new state hastily retrieved their tools and averted their eyes from the stern gaze of their commander. They could not feel the cold steel in their hands but they knew the icy dread of Drest's piercing disappointment.

Drest stood in a drape of charcoal trappings, brief glimmers of his undercoat dressed in a tepid yellow hue, like stale water or stained snow. It matched his yellowed teeth. Unlike his pristine monarch, the man was far less concerned with appearance, but that it should inspire compliance. Horror worked as well as beauty in that regard, or so he had found.

"Should this work the way I am imagining ..." he hungered before the undeniable presence of Aura. "Next time ... give me trolls and see what an unstoppable force that I will gift you !" he dared her. He would require replacements .. most assuredly. Though they would not realise it, death would claim a vast proportion of his troops as sure as it would seize all mortal warriors in battle. They would die before they ever stopped to realise tht they were injured. And Drest would willingly sacrifice their lives, just to revel in the power that they were doing his bidding, to their dying breath. It caused him no end of amusement. He had never been much of a forward thinker, living for the now, for the promise of complete and utter devastation to be properly fulfilled.
Aura though required some fore-planning to safeguard the utter eradication of all his walking dead. Time to call upon his dear one, his familiar. Time to thin the battle ground of their awakened foe.


"Shytha !" Drest rasped, and a thin, almost grey-skinned woman dropped from the sky and rose up from the ashes of a landing that should have been her demise. Long and lank hair slathered downward from the crown of her head. Her engaging, almost lidless eyes were unavoidable, her tongue speared swiftly over thin colourless lips and recoiled back into it's foul cavern. Tilting her head side on, she drank of the sorceror's commanding presence and hung off his arm like an adoring sweetheart.

"Our Queen would have you soar ..." he smiled. "Take the sky and let it fall upon them as a storm of wrath !"

Shytha's grin forced flesh over too great a size of bone within her already wide brow. In seconds, her skirts spat forth their dark skin like a multitude of gathered lips that swallowed her fast spinning form. Finally a mighty sable bird, as large and hulking as any vulture emerged from the cloak of shadow which dropped in her wake and dissipated ever before it touched the earth.

"Now !!" Both of Drest's heavily robed arms sprang up as though newly raised trees to gesture violently an assault against the dome of stars above. His passage underfoot remained yet smooth and undisturbed across the murky depths of the river, as far above Shytha spread her wings to cleave the satin of the sky in her advance. A grave shriek broke from her sharp beak and soon a scatter and a rustling were heard. Countless crebain all about were roused from perches amidst all the coarse rocks and the arid trees. They would heed the call of the harpy she-demon.

Sure enough, a thousand wings answered her shrill and eerie summons, slapping all the air with the strength of a clap of thunder. The raucous outcry of fierce and incomprehensible war cries filled the night with terror and confusion as their thick unholy swarm brewed to some size, a horrific bruise upon the previously flawless night. At Shytha's cry, at Drest's command, for Aura's entertainment; all birds dove as one, talons and beaks poised to unleash scores of pain, in a vast screaming assault that tore through the ranks of assembling defenders. The Rangers' objections were lost within the cloud of violence that tore their flesh, raked their faces, and kept them from proper focus.


Drest counted to ten then gave the nod to his impatient Hillmen horde. They waded into the writhing bedlam of Rangers, beating upon all that were already disadvantaged by the other casters. The night screamed with unbridled protests against all of nature that the sorcerors had tainted to their means.
Green flame twitched at the pinacle of his curved and yellowed finger nails but Drest paused a moment before entering the fray proper, that he might bask amidst the strain of fear and horror. All the practice and experimentation all was naught compared to this outpouring of their fortitude. Finally, they hid no longer ! He sputtered the tips of his crackling fingertips together before him, engaged by the promise of their heinous ghoul-like blossoms.

"This one is for you, Siora," he laughed openly. His late sister had long feared that the Rangers would become aware of the coven's re-emergence. Well, now they knew. And Drest cared not. The Hillmen had come home. The Rangers' reprieve was at an end.

Rior Laegiel
26/Oct/2014, 02:41 PM
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A malevolent grin spread across his face and he gave Aura a short nod in response to her request but he said nothing. She had his allegiance and he knew she knew that so he felt no need to reassure her of that with words. Ashclaw had never been much of a talker as he'd been taught the value of silence at an early age. Stepping off the boat and onto the shore, tightening his grip on the torch he had in his left hand, it had yet to be lit but it felt reassuring knowing he hadn’t forgotten it. Pulling back the hood of the worn dark grey robes he wore, his fingers touching the dark brown hair that touched his shoulders. A glint of anticipation flared in his brown eyes as he was looking forward to the task at hand and he focused on one of the Dúnedain groups that would soon see their worst fears come to life before their eyes.

While perfecting his powers the sorcerer had always worked with one victim at a time since there hadn't been a large supply of people to work on so this would be his first time doing it to a large group of people at the same time, but apparently their leader had faith that he would be able to do it, and if he wasn't he didn't want to be the one to tell her that her wishes couldn't be done.

Widening his stance a bit, he raised his hands and turned the palms towards his victims as it helped him focus, closing his eyes to tune in on the minds of those he was about to affect, finding first one mind and then a second and with some effort he could soon sense a whole clutter of minds. Bringing out their worst fears, Ashclaw made them come alive, hallucinations that were real enough to kill the Dúnedain or at least distract them long enough to be killed by the coven. As he tuned out again, leaving his enemies to fight their own fears, a cold grin spread across his face.

During his training, he'd sensed enough fears to know what sort of things could plague even the most innocent people but the ones who had seen battle and other such things tended to be the most fun to plague. He'd also tried to perfect some kind of mental defense, or shield, to prevent someone trying to bring out his own worst fear. So far he hadn't seen anyone with the ability to do so but he couldn't be sure that there was no one out there with abilities like his.

The screams of terror and fear filled the air and a smirk of satisfaction spread across the sorceror’s face. He had been working on trying to amplify a person’s worst fear as a means to increase their torture but he hadn’t mastered that skill yet and unfortunately he’d found that the stronger the fear is made the faster the victim dies. If there was a way to strengthen the fear and keep the victims alive longer, he hadn’t found it, but he would keep trying.

Reminding himself that there was no time to waist by admiring his work, the sorceror drew a deep breath of air and focused on another group of Dúnedain warriors. He wouldn't have believed how much unresolved issues that existed between the rangers if he hadn't been tuning into those seeds of conflict and he wondered how all of them were able to work together with those angers and resentments towards each other. Working on enhancing the seeds to the point where the warriors would turn against each other, watching with childish glee for a short moment as their enemies used their strength to fight each other instead of the coven.

Reaching into his pockets, he felt the small vials of flammable liquid that he'd prepared, though he needed fire if he were to use them but that wouldn’t be a problem. It would only take a moment to light the torch that he’d brought and then he would relish in making people burn. Listening to the sounds of the ongoing battle as the torch caught fire, waiting for a few seconds watching the fire, he then reached for one of the small vials containing a mouthful of liquid and turned to find his first victim.

Emptying the vial and keeping the liquid in his mouth, Ashclaw raised his left hand holding the torch and breathed a stream of liquid over the flame, creating a plume of fire that quickly enveloped two rangers who fell to the ground screaming in agony. The two of them were trying to put out the flames that were quickly consuming their bodies, their comrades too busy fighting to help them. Ashclaw ignored them, keeping his distance as he passed them so he wouldn’t catch fire himself, emptying a second vial to create another plume of fire to burn the ranger that was charging towards him and would have buried his sword in Ashclaw’sstomach if he hadn’t been engulfed in flames before he could take a stab at the sorceror.

His fingers closed around the third small vial and held it in his hand for a moment before emptying it and keeping the liquid in his mouth as he unsheathed his sword with his free hand. Creating a third plume of fire, making another ranger burn like a human torch and chuckling to himself, Ashclaw prepared to start using his sword. Planning to save the last two vials of liquid for a while yet, the sorceror held on to the burning torch, tightening the grip around the hard wood with his left hand and closing his fingers tightly around the sword with his right hand Ashclaw prepared to face another ranger.




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Beren Camlost
28/Oct/2014, 06:34 PM
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~ Source (http://th08.deviantart.net/fs70/150/f/2013/225/6/f/amy_pond_by_chibionpu-d6hxkyc.jpg) ~

Gwendolyn Elders
Lond Daer


Gwen blew softly the dust away from the artifact that she had uncovered. She used a soft-bristled brush to remove some more of the dirt off of the surface of the piece of metal. She hadn't uncovered enough of it yet to know what exactly it was, so she began to work on clearing away more dirt from around the edge of what she did have uncovered.


As Gwen went about her work, she heard noises from just a short ways off. She frowned and sat up, tucking a lock of her red hair behind her ear as she looked around. She wasn't liking the sounds she was hearing. It sounded like some awful battle was breaking out. She got to her feet and crept closer, keeping hidden by staying behind trees. The young woman peeked out cautiously from behind a tree once she got close enough, and was horrified by the sights that met her eyes. Men whom she recognized as Rangers were being slaughtered by a group of.. Rhudaurians. She heard the woman say 'Behold her now, the queen of Rhudaur!' so she could only guess that the attackers were a coven of sorcerers and the woman with the golden breastplate was their leader.


Gwen watched as horrible creatures came out of the river, and she widened her eyes and gripped the bark of the tree she hid behind. She wanted to jump into the battle and help the Rangers, but she could tell that her help wouldn't do anything but get her killed as well. She ducked down and moved to a better hiding place, having spotted an old dilapidated building that was partly crumbled away, but there was enough wall to hide behind and far enough away from the battle to provide safety.


Once getting inside the building, Gwen kept down, only peeking up cautiously every once in a while, to see how it was going. She watched with a pounding heart as one of the sorcerors summoned a bird thing, and watched a flock of birds join the attack. Another did something to affect the ranger's minds, and she noticed they seemed to be hallucinating.. it appeared to be something to do with their fears. She hoped that she wouldn't be discovered, and wouldn't be killed along with the rangers. Before long, all of the rangers were slain, and Gwen watched the witches, to see what they would do next.

Greyfang
10/Nov/2014, 12:22 PM
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Taerion Greyfang, of the family Dawnstar.
Ranger Veteran
The Four Winds



The Greyfang glanced longingly at the abandoned tap of the Four Winds, the grizzled ranger leaning up against the rough wooden bar-table that ran almost the length of the building that served as both the headquarters of the Rangers of the North and their exclusive pub. Perhaps that told you something of the Rangers?

Taerion flipped a coin up into the air and moved through the slowly gathering crowd to the wide doorway of the tavern, enjoying the crisp morning air that blasted through his neck-length hair, which was fast coming the match his name. He supposed that like the coin he held, it could be taken in two ways. You could say that the Rangers liked to gather in the pub as it was a communal space – a home for all. There were spare beds out back and dorms all around the hidden city of Osdolen for any who needed them. You could say that the Rangers were a close-knit group, that they stuck together and despite, or even because of their tendency to vanish for months or years on end – when they were together, they made sure they spent their time happy.

Of course, there was the flip side, the argument that Taerion, being the eternal optimist that his ever-present scowl announced, believed more likely. This was the idea that the Rangers had their headquarters at a pub because perhaps that was the only thing that held them together – they were the broken remnants of a people, who didn’t even carry the name “Arnorian” any more. Their numbers were dwindling more and more with every passing year - there were five-fold less children born now to Ranger families then there were when Taerion was a boy and even those that were born were often taken away by their parents, like Taerion’s own two nieces living in Archet – only dimly aware of their family's work.

A particularly cold gust of wind rushed through door during a brief period of its opening and Taerion shivered involuntarily. He normally enjoyed the cold but this morning he could feel the cool rings of his chainmail skirt through the thick leather leggings he wore. The Greyfang was wearing an outfit of padded leather covering his chest and shoulders, with chainmail sleeves and a karma (a skirt split at the groin) as well as two strong bracers carved with two white stars of Arnor and a hooded cowl, which was currently thrown back in the warmth of the inn.

Taerion stepped forward to join Khallador, embracing the Captain of Osdolen and bar-keep of The Four Winds with a smile, noticing that he wore a green version of the grey fingerless hunting gloves Taerion had on.

“Galerida, good to see you again, time to round up some volunteers eh?” Taerion gave a grim grin and settled down next to the man as Khallador announced his temporary handover of Osdolen’s captaincy to Imelda and the venture to Annuminas.

Taerion nodded and accepted Khallador’s compliments with as much a smile as his mouth muscles would allow.
He looked at the gathered Rangers and added his own pitch onto Khallador's announcement.
“Indeed, Annuminas and the Evendim Lake it lies upon are rich with lore and history – once the jewel of Arnor, but now that finery is too often prey to grave-robbers and tomb-breakers, who we may or may not encounter on our journey. This cache is one of many secrets the city holds, but we must be swift and ensure we find it. Too often do these things come to our attention too late and we lose the chance to regain a little more of our ancestry, of ourselves. Now come, the promise of riches, a chance to see the old capital and minimal risk of death – who’s game?”

Taerion leaned sideways to Khallador as Rangers began to come towards them, “I look forward to working with you Galerida, I haven’t shared a command for a while, it’ll be a nice change to share the load for once.”

He stepped forward adjusting the thick vambraces on his arms. “Also there’s something I think I should bring to your attention – I’ve got a small team of rangers at High King’s Crossing – just a way out of Annuminas, you might know of them Captain. I was going to send them a new commander temporarily, but seeing as we are heading that way, perhaps we could collect them?”

Greyfang
24/Nov/2014, 04:01 PM
The Quality of Mercy
Part 1.

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The quality of mercy is not strain'd,
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath: it is twice blest;
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes:
'Tis mightiest in the mightiest: it becomes
The throned monarch better than his crown;
His sceptre shows the force of temporal power,
The attribute to awe and majesty,
Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings;
But mercy is above this sceptred sway;
- William Shakespeare, the Merchant of Venice.

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Mercy
Sorceress of the Coven (Illusionist)
with
Tahlia Meldawn
Inquisitor of Rhudaur (Witch)

Min Colvarn (The Edge of Doom, Dunland)
The Day of the attack on the Rangers at Lond Daer.

Min Colvarn
Mercy woke with the words on her lips, fresh blood saturating her limbs as she prepared herself for the assault that came every morning. The Farseer opened her milky-white eyes,the movement meaningless - just another muscle being stretched, tested systematically evaluated. Her eyes may have been open but her sight remained closed, her eyes unseeing, the world dull. She had another method of sensing the world around her however, but for a few moments she chose to hold off, to let herself fumble within the darkness.

She felt for the edge of the small bed within which she lay, removing the thin sheets from her prone form and shifting to let her feet drop to the ground.

Standing hesitantly she slowly set aside the silken nightdress and fumbled on the bedside table to reach the light undershirt and pants that had been laid there, donning them through memory alone. She knew little about what these actually looked like, having never wasted the energy on sensing their colour. It was what she put on after - flowing robes of energetic light blue and mysterious pale violet that hung just a few steps away that made the impact.

Finally she opened her “eyes” - extending her teleological senses a few meter around her to encompass the little tent she At the moment she had herself surrounded by a globe of interference - a shield of sorts. Though that would indicate she was trying to stop something from coming in. And it was quite the opposite. Slowly, slightly and knowing the pain that would soon follow, Mercy stood and let the sphere of her sight slowly expand, washing over the world around her and painting a picture of it within her mind and soul.

First there came the void, the swirling, howling grey nothingness and tore at the edges of her mind. What others would feel as pain was a warm comforting blanket of normality to her. This was her canvas.
Onto this exploded the beginnings of texture and colour, the glowing auras that were the souls of those around her. Some, such as the Coven’s spellcasters shone bright with opalized royal colours but others, like the dunlendings seemed dull, their colours hidden and masked.
Then came the physical world, a layer dropped over her vision like a filter of mist. Walls, tents, books weapons were just slight shadows within this umbaric world, they held little shape or form here but with focus and training Mercy found she could keep them stable, at least enough to not constantly bump into tables or walk through fireplaces. That had been an unpleasant experience indeed.

There were many names for such a technique - soulsighting, spirit-seeing and void-searching, terms that although Mercy often had them said to her, never said herself. It was a technique that often took Mages a lifetime to learn, let alone master and something that both cursed and blessed Mercy. Her sight taken at a young age, unwillingly and with great violence, the sight had been the gift of pity awarded to her by the pitiless ancestral ghost who had long tormented and aided (in near equal amounts) her bloodline since the days when Rhudaur stood strong. Rhudaur - the land of her ancestors, a land once ruled by the proud hillmen before the Men of the West ever arrived, but when they did the elf-friends took over the lands claiming them as their own, forcing the hillmen to lives as slaves within their own country. It was not until the rise of Angmar that the Rhudaurans took their chance to ally themselves with the dark powers of the Witch-King of Angmar and throw off the lashes of their masters.

But those of true Rhudauran blood suffer no masters for long and sure enough the Rhudaurans forsook the bonds of Angmar as well after breaking Arnor into three separate nations and destroying its people. However they did not count on the resilience on the Arnorians, who became the rangers of the north and with the help of the elves pushed the weakened Rhudaurans from their lands once more. Moragnir, her ancestor and now her guide had been a Rhudauran lord of Angmar but had given that all up to wage a near unwinnable war one he was still waging to their day, albeit through his descendant.

It was times like this that Mercy considered what motives the kingly wraith (Moragnir) had in granting her sight once more, albeit in a very different form to what it once was or in fact for doing anything. Unfortunately there were precious few moments in which she ever saw the wraith talk about anything personal or even go close to discussing himself. For the person who had raised her from a small child, she knew surprisingly little about the long-dead ancestor of hers.

Ah but such thoughts were for another day, another place, another time. Today... Well, today was the day... Mercy sliped on the silken dress that flowed like water around her lithe body, light and insubstantial. It had metal bands around the neck, waist and shoulders but flowed freely to her bare feet and hung from her elbows, leaving her forearms and hands uncovered.

As she felt the fabric on her skin she indulged herself for a moment, pressing her mind to inspire a wash of colour to spread from her to her imediate vicinity, flooding over the dress, the ground and her small tent. She breathed in the emotions that accompanied the world’s sudden vividity, the energy and subtle power of the lightning blues and sunset violets that covered her dress, the stoic browns of the packed soil she stood upon and the faded red linen of her tent. However she enjoyed it for a little too long and with a snap like a slingshot her mind burst with pain and the colours receded to shades of grey as she huddled on the ground grinding her teeth again the fading agony.

As she stood up tentatively, fumbling for the nearby dresser Mercy reached her mind out beyond her tent to Karnak, her familiar who happily flitted from branch to branch of the nearby wood in the form of a tiny oily black songbird, no bigger than a nightingale. As steadied herself she talked silently to the Darkwater demon, once a trickster in the Sea of Rhun and now her faithful servant, who purred to know the touch of his mistress and obediently vowed to do as she instructed and meet her in the lower circles of the town.

As she did up the final clasp of the dress through memory alone Mercy smiled in achievement at the simple task of doning her own clothes. She reached out to the two long daggers that lay upon her mantle, straight and thin they tapered gently to a wicked point, similar to stilettos but with a circular guard that was just a little larger than the full width of the blades, which were thin enough to slide between even thickest plates of armour.

They were Misericorde - blades designed to deliver the mercy strike - the death blow to a wounded soldier, or as Mercy prefered them, a delusional one. These were her favorite weapon. Close, personal and intimate they gave a stunning view of a person’s final moments, which to Mercy was really the only moment that mattered.

Brushing aside the flaps of her tent, Mercy made her way through the dundlending camp of Min Colvarn, doing well to follow her ‘sight’ and do her best to not trip over things or people. Her nose wrinkled at the smells that wafted through it – a mix of animals, roasting meat, drying mud and wood-fires as her bare feet traced the discarded bones and muddied bootprints that littered the dirt paths.
She made her way through the rows of squat tents, moving downwards from the great tent of the sorcerers to which hers was but an annexe. Walking carefully through the streets she watched or rather felt as a pair of children chased a wolfhound through a maze of weeds shining with happiness while grim-souled warriors shot arrows at straw-stuffed dummies and a bright shining figure instructed a group of teenagers who in the basics of levitation as they began to shine. Mercy wondered at the peculiarity that the children shone so bright only to grow dim and hide the power the resided within their veins, waiting for someone else to awaken it and denying its existence. Peculiar.

There were however guards where she was headed – two tall dunlending men stood outside the small tent their ghostly forms glimmering darkly with a sickly red light to Mercy’s eyes – both men had been sorcerously trained but within the tent there glowed an even brighter figure, lighting coursing from her fingers.

Mercy swept past the guards as they automatically stepped aside for the blind woman, as entered the tent as the coven’s inquisitor – Taliha Meldawn, a thin lipped woman with a bundle of raging magenta energy coursing through her veins stepped back from the limp body of a Rohiric man strung from rack like a criminal for flaying. Mercy’s face twisted as she surveyed the streams of blood, life energy accompanying it, that flowed freely from gashes across the man’s body. The worst wounds of course would be from the burns that the morgul lightning would have seared into his body. Not for the first time Mercy was glad she wasn’t able to see mortal flesh.
Mercy turned to the Inquisitor watching as her energy moved from point to point in her body. With someone of this unshackled power she wasn't just a pale wraith but a fully formed figure with power pumping through her veins like blood. Despite her obvious power however Mercy felt quite confident criticising her harshly “What exactly did you hope to learn? Is the man even anything more than a common footsoldier?”

The wraith-like figure of the inquisitor seemed to turn a dark purple with a slight tint of green, the grey void of the world tearing at her sides. Perhaps it was a hint of nervousness or even fear? The farseer almost smiled.
“He’s nothing special,” Taliha admitted, looking up at Mercy. According to those around Min Colvarn she was what Moragnir would call 'conventionally beautiful' a phrase Mercy had resigned herself to never understanding.
“What are you planning to do with him?” asked Taliha.

Mercy stepped up to the man, stroking his bloodied cheek as he looked up at her with red clouded eyes, “I intend to set him free of course.” As this both the man and the inquisitor jumped towards her as Mercy slid one of her long daggers from its sheathe.
The inquisitor raised her hand as lightning began to crackle within her fist but Mercy pressed the dagger against the Rohir’s chest.
“Set him free from this mortal realm.”

With that she slid the Misericorde up into the man’s heart, bringing a silver bowl to his chest as she pulled the blade from his twitching torso, the crimson stream of life pouring into the shallow bowl as she instructed the inquisitor to come forward with a basin that had rested to the side.
“You see, it is the moment of death that counts, not the life before it.” she spoke, removing the bowl and sliding the basin underneath. She walked away carrying the shallow silver bowl, leaving the inquisitor with the slowly filling basin.

“Where are you going?” demanded the inquisitor.

“I have a battle to prepare for.” Mercy responded nonchalantly. From the bowl a shimmering bubble of blood rose the size of a fist, floating in front of her face in a perfect sphere before splitting into ropes which traced the intricate lines of a summoning circle into the damp mud.
“When you are finished with the basin send it to me.” she instructed Tahlia, stepping within the circle as Karnak landed upon her shoulder.
"Oh and bring yourself" she added as an afterthought. She began chanting in a low ominous tone, words too intricate and powerful to be understood by the common ear and then with a rush of wind and a gout of leaping flame she vanished with only the smoking circle of charred earth evidence of her presence.

Leanan Sídhe
24/Nov/2014, 10:44 PM
Four Winds
Orianna Thornhill

The door to the Four Winds opened and allowed a still somewhat chilly gust of wind to enter, followed by a diminutive cloaked figure who quickly pushed the door closed behind her. A shaded face surveyed the tap room of the tavern and the figure's body language said she was ill at ease, though trying to rally. She took a deep breath and pushed back the hood of her grey cloak back, revealing a heartshaped face with green eyes framed by dirty blonde hair that reached her chin. The young woman - barely more than a girl - once again flitted her eyes over all the people in a the room, imposing figures who all seemed at least a foot taller than her... though that was hardly a challenge considering Orianna was barely 5'2".

She pushed herself away from the door and took a step into the room, surrepticiously trying to readjust the quiver on her back since it was cutting into her shoulder. After she had taken five steps she stopped again, unsure. She looked from face to face trying to figure out who to talk to but they all looked intimidating to her. Painfully shy, she took another deep breath, stared at her feet and softly said,

"Hi... er, is this where I can join the Rangers?"

Ercassie
27/Nov/2014, 01:09 AM
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Gwandhyra and Jowan
Library of Osdolen


The Library of Osdolen was vast and yet at the same time dwarfed by the immense cramming of texts and parchment. It was also the last place in all of the abandoned city that Gwandhyra had thought to find Jowan occupying any length of time. Nonetheless when he had expressed his want to venture here and properly acquaint himself with what maps and manuscripts might prove beneficial, the blind man had volunteered to point him in the correct direction. The irony was not lost on the southerner, but he lacked the right words to refuse the generous offer of assistance. And as it transpired, Jowan had proven adept at providing his daughter's new comrade with whatever resources he required.

"Try the one third from the left, on the lowest of shelves beside the window," Jowan suggested. His face strained with no effort of such recollection.
"There are more than the one window," Gwandhyra reluctantly admitted.
"The one closest to the pile of boxes upon the floor," the unseeing guide clarified. "Unless Eriston has sorted through them and tidied things up."

Fingers ran the length of the assortment until the trusting seeker found what he had sought. Right where Jowan had advised. Gwandhyra handed his new friend one edge of the extensive map, and uncurled it's mighty length across their tabletop. Seeing eyes swept hungrily about the names and features which were becoming ever more home within his mind. Unseeing eyes were fixed with pointless fealty upon the ar most wall. Jowan leant in and made an educated guess with his forefinger.

"Thereabouts," he said, confidently. "That is Windnesse, and there .." An index finger journeyed some small distance aside the first point. "Ost-Carloth," Jowan proclaimed calmly. His face clouded into doubt for but a moment as Gwandhyra loitered, silent. "Unless I have it upside down ?" the blind man grappled back toward the edge of the parchment. "No," he calmed his indecision. "The metal rod lays the stretch of the parchment. Always on the left."

Gwandhyra could not recall a time when he had been absent of audible response. "How long ..?" he commenced with a deceptively casual question which he never quite concluded. Nor needed to.

"Nigh on twenty years," the blind man assumed the question, correctly and demonstrated no apparent despair upon the acknowledgement. Though if Gwandhyra had believed that Jowan gave no thought toward his affliction, he would stand in error. "Five months, four days, seventeen hours and some minutes also," he added, quietly. "Give or take."

"I meant not to press upon a grievous subject," Gwandhyra excused himself, with courtesy.

"It is not unkind to say a blind man is blind," he was informed. Jowan sat down on the chair he had until now knelt one knee upon.

"Is there nothing .. I mean, Imladris has some of the best healers in the land !" Gwandhyra strove to correct what was beyond him.

"I shall not be poked and prodded like a hedgehog on a mat," Jowan decided gruffly. "Elves are all well and good, do not get me wrong. But I have my pride. And might be hearing there is nothing to be done .. well that is a prognosis that no Man desires to hear."

"You have a daughter," Gwandhyra reminded him. "How long since you saw her face ? Jowan .."

"She was always but a tiny thing," the other man recalled. "Huge eyes," he smiled, proudly. "My little owlet. Sweet and straight up as she is to this day. My girl. But my wife .. One day she went out and she never came home," The Ranger's voice cracked. "I always promised that I'd never even look at another woman," Jowan remembered the irony of past pledge, and sighed. "I kept my word," he said, rather proudly. "These last twenty years, I kept my promise."



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"I am going to get you a dog," Mirana's abrupt declaration shattered the scene and all further anguish about the aged subject. She stared hard at Gwandhyra as though she had caught the two of them conceiving something underhand. Jowan caught up the map and counted his steps across the room.

"I was educating our lost cousin here, as to our history, and whereabouts he has pledged to the Chief that he shall serve." Jowan nudged the map into the crevice which betrayed it's rightful place, a small smile across his face.

"A dog is a good idea," Ana said, apparently to herself, afore turning on her heel to depart the room.

Muttering his thanks to Jowan, awkwardly, Gwandhyra hastened after her, fearing somehow he had angered her in place of her father. "A dog ? Why now ?" he wondered. "This very hour ?"

"No," Ana admitted. "Taerion is back, and Khallador has a crowd gathered at the Four Winds. We should go."

"Your father ...," Gwandhyra commenced, but once again faltered before conclusion.

"He likes it in the library," she conceded, at length lowering her stark defenses. "Noone scarcely goes in there and he knows where everything is. Eriston is kind to him."

"He showed me Windnesse and Ost-Carloth," Gwandhyra would have his friend and kinswoman to recognise his wonder at Jowan's acceptance of his lot. "A dog ?" he queried.

"It is your fault," she informed him. "Thanks to you I am forced to go all over the countryside and babysit so green a foreigner to this domain. He requires company. A dog is company."

"You never talk about it," the Gondorian forced the observation into light. "Ana, he needs to .."

"He will like a dog," she snapped and stormed ahead of her interfering comrade. He kept enough of his past to himself, and she saw absolutely no need for her to divulge her opinion about her own, nor her father's history.





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Mirana and Gwandhyra
The Four Winds


The Four Winds was abrew with news and schemes. Silently, Ana skirted the room and picked up the feeling of the group. She was glad to see Imelda gaining some manner of proper authority around Osdolen at long last. Mirana was proud to recognise another woman's accomplishments, within a man's world.

Gwandhyra caught to her side, a swift pursuit later, as Ana was struck considering the new arrival, Orianna. She stepped with some purpose away from him, and he stepped aside also, to close the gap between them. The woman rolled her eyes and made good on her pledge to ignore him.

"You would do well to speak with Imelda," Ana stepped up to Orianna and pointed out their recently appointed authority. "She will be glad to tell you all you need to know. I will go with Taerion."

This last decision was fair swiftly made and brief in exclamation. Gwandhyra stepped up beside her. "You wanted me to see more of old Arnor," he reminded her, as meaning he would also go on the new mission. "Witches .." he caught his head with one hand and could not quite believe what he was hearing.

"I do not believe in witches," Mirana made clear.

Leanan Sídhe
27/Nov/2014, 10:49 PM
Four Winds
Orianna Thornhill

To Orianna, the silence that followed her statement was unbearably long, even though in reality it probably only lasted a couple of seconds. She was painfull self-conscious about coming here, since her mother - once a ranger herself - had been rather against her joining so young. She'd only turned eighteen three weeks ago, but she couldn't take the village any more, so boring and nothing to do but herd sheep and scare off the occasional wolf. She'd almost not gone through with it, but she felt she had prove something, both to herself and her mother. Prove that she was more than a shepherdess, a simple village girl. Wasn't she a Dúnadan? Didn't she have as much a birthright to this as her parents? Yes it was dangerous, but someone had to do it. She was the eldest, her youngest brother wasn't yet ten, and the Rangers were responsible for keeping the village and surrounding countryside relatively safe. She had to do her part in that and support them by helping out herself. She had doubts, though... what if they thought she was too young? Too inexperienced? The only real fighting she'd ever done was run off some bandits together with her mom, uncle and neighbours last year as they tried to steal their sheep. She'd shot a man with her bow and while at that time it felt right she wondered if she could do it again.

Well, one way to find out. One of the other female rangers approached her and pointed to yet another female ranger - seems the women were well-represented her. Imelda she called her, and she did look like someone with authority, though right now she also looked rather nervous about something. Somehow, this cheered Orianna up a little... Seems everyone had reason to be nervous sometimes, from the youngest recruit to the oldest, most experienced ranger.

"Thanks," she said to Mirana, making a mental note to ask her name later. She walked to where Imelda said and was about to speak when the words spoken by Mirana connected with her brain. She half-turned again. "Witches..?" She said, a little louder than she meant. "What do you mean, witches?" She sucked in a breath, then realized she got distracted from what she intended to do. Turning back to Imelda, she smiled a nervous little smile.

"Er, right, yea. Hi. I mean hello. My name is Orianna Thornhill. My mother's Caitlyn Thornhill, she used to be a ranger but she retired, sort of, when she got me. So, erm, I'd like to join..."

Greyfang
02/Dec/2014, 12:07 AM
The Quality of Mercy
Part 2

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The quality of mercy is not strain'd,


It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven


Upon the place beneath: it is twice blest;


It blesseth him that gives and him that takes:


'Tis mightiest in the mightiest: it becomes


The throned monarch better than his crown;


His sceptre shows the force of temporal power,


The attribute to awe and majesty,


Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings;


But mercy is above this sceptred sway;


- William Shakespeare, the Merchant of Venice.



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Mercy
Sorceress of the Coven (Illusionist)
with
Tahlia Meldawn
Inquisitor of Rhudaur (Witch)

Lond Daer - Midnight


"Hey Mercy" The petite gold-framed face of Aileen Camlost swam in the silver basin in front of Mercy for a moment as the farseer indulged herself in a moment to let the girls vibrancy wash over her - the sheen of the blonde hair and the shining power of those eyes - but she let it fall back to screaming grey as Witchlord Aura stepped into the frame the intense power that radiated from her form causing Mercy to grimace a little as a mix of pain and fear blanketed her mind. As Aura finished she nodded mutely and placed the basin on the ground as the Queen if Rhudaur cut the sorcerous connection and the image faded to show the basin full of crimson lifeforce.

She stood and looked out over the ruins that stood like broken teeth along the old harbour, the entire area pale and lifeless in shades of grey - an area with so much history that the rangers who now inhabited it in their stone shacks seemed less than specks of dust in the winds of time. The illusionist examined the three camps that sat along the eastern edge of the port, clearly spying the coven's sorcerers as their shining figures made their way through the howling night to launch their attack.
"Karnak!" She called softly and the songbird shaped demon flitted down from the branch of a tree towards her and hovered on her shoulder for a moment, listening to the unspoken words that passed between them before darting off her shoulder into the sullen clouds that gathered above them in the midnight sky.

"Tahlia" she summoned the inquisitor with a quiet utterance as she turned from the camps to view the troops under her command. Including herself there were ten, all thin, silent and deadly - the knaves and cutthroats of the coven and the sorcerers rather than the brutes who she knew would be employed in the attack on the eastern bank.

Inquisitor Tahlia Meldawn appeared from the shadows, a scowl etched into what would otherwise be a beautiful face.
"Why am I here?" She asked Mercy sullenly.

“You’re here to learn.” Spoke Mercy plainly, her voice clam and emotionless as was her constant. Perhaps it was due to how she saw the world – when you saw the true vastness of the world and the unwavering, brutal facts of how small even the most important of royalty really were and how insignificant those “great” civilisations seemed, building and destroying each other in the blink of an eye. Perhaps having seen that petty things like emotions didn’t matter any more – what hold did pain or joy have over the mind that cared for neither?

“Yes, you’re here to learn” confirmed Mercy as the Inquisitor bristled with swirling violet anger next to her.

“I’m older than you girl!” she thundered at the blind woman, “I’m not one of your petty students!”

“No” agreed Mercy, “But you should be.”

Mercy turned toward Tahlia, her milky-white eyes staring straight into the inquisitor’s pale purple ones or at least Mercy hoped she was, it was a little hard to make out exactly what part of the inquisitor’s face she had directed her eyes towards. She would be certainly be less intimidating if her eyes were actually looking somewhere over Tahlia’s left shoulder. However it seemed to work as Tahlia turned away with a sound that Mercy was sure was the grinding of teeth. Mercy walked forward, her back to the Ranger’s encampment, feeling the moist ground underneath her bare feet and the cool midnight air in her lungs. She turned her sight toward the ragged grey ghost-figures of her troops, motioning for Tahlia to join her.

“Pick me the best five.” She said softly and the Inquisitor seemed to stare at the blind woman for a moment, trying to work out if she was walking into a trap or a lecture and really which one would be worse. She walked forward and inspected the weapons that to Mercy were no more than wisps of fog and spoke in low tones to each coven member there before walking back to where Mercy stood, her senses reaching out to observe the battle beginning on the eastern shore.

“Those three are the best with blades and a good measure of agility while the others are all very competent casters with the best being perhaps… Him” Taliha pointed to a young man buzing with excitement and energy, “and her” and dundlending woman who moved with planned and purposeful step.

“Good. They shall be our vanguard and the other three shall follow and protect their backs.” Spoke Mercy,

“And our backs?” questioned Tahlia.

“I trust you to be competent enough to protect yourself Inquisitor. Do not make your haughty claims and then wish for a bodyguard, to do so would bring great hypocrisy upon your name.” Mercy walked up to the line of soldiers, now split into the five of the vanguard and the three support casters.

“Mi’lady” spoke one of the witches, her eyes lowered to the hem of Mercy’s dress that draped along the ground. “Are the others going to arrive soon? We can’t take the entire camp with just ten of us.”

Mercy cocked her head at the woman. “There are no others,” she spoke, “Do not be faithless and doubt your fate this date, it is not your time to perish nor your place. The rangers will fall and you will rise. It is an inevitable fact to which numbers are nothing.”
The witch moved jauntily, in which Mercy assumed was a nod. There was a rustle of clothing as she stepped backwards and Mercy took her answer to be sufficient and turned to the rest of her command.

“I will encircle the camp in a ring of power.” Spoke Mercy to them clearly. “Before it is activated you must be inside it.” She bent down and dipped her right hand in the blood-filled basin, marking each soldier with an arcane symbol upon their neck. “This will allow you passage through the barrier if you should need it – but it will be painful. Now to your positions.”

With that Mercy turned around and walked down the rise towards the white stone buildings of the Dunedain, the silver basin floating through the air behind her. Some way before the encampment she stopped and laid the basin before her, her fingers and hands held before her as the sketched intricate patterns in the air and in response ropes of sanguine gore rose from the basin, moving outwards to encircle the entire camp, thinning to the size of a strand of hair to form an unbroken circle around the blissfully unaware Dunedain. This completed Mercy gave the signal for the vanguard to enter the circle, moving silently through the camp as the noises of battle began to float over the water from the other three camps.

On the edge of the circle of blood Taliha taunted Mercy, “Admit it, is it because the Witchlord wouldn’t trust you with more than eight casters?” she sneered.
Mercy shook her head, “No. She wished for me to command more than half the force.”
Taliha stared at Mercy as if she were mad, “But you only took these eight!” she exclaimed.
“They’re all I need.” Asserted Mercy, cocking her head to hear the noises from the other side of the river, shaking her head.
“You don’t approve?” Questioned Taliha.
Mercy shook her head, “They’re being very messy. Very messy indeed.”

As they spoke lights began to flicker within the camp that Mercy and Taliha stood at as the rangers woke to the distant screams and shouts of their perishing brethren across the river, unknowingly charging outside to find their own doom.
“Help me with the circle” commanded Mercy and the two sorceresses began to chant softly, Taliha simply casting a spell of binding and commanding while Mercy spoke words that were foreign even to the Inquisitor. The circle of blood began to bubble and boil at their words, red droplets leaping higher and higher until as the first rangers ran from the buildings to be struck down by the Rhudaurans who lay in wait, the circle erupted into flame.

Leaping gouts of unnatural crimson fire formed a wall of flame twelve feet high around the entire encampment, both rangers and sorcerers enraptured by the sudden eruption of the daemonic flame, transfixed as at Mercy’s urging the flames began to leap inwards forming into the shapes of gigantic vines, thorned and grasping that smashed into the rangers, the fire consuming five of them who ran screaming towards the dark waters of the docks.

“Blood-flayme.” whispered Tahlia. “But it’s a legend - there are no sorcerers left who know the spell.”
“No sorcerers left alive.” corrected Mercy with a grunt as she drove her power into the blood-flayme, causing it to erupt forward into the camp, the tendrils of blood-red flame avoiding those of the coven as they reached forward to consume the rangers. She began to weave her own particular ‘flavour’ within the blood-flayme, words dripping from her mouth like the blood she used to cast the spell.

Mercy watched as within her vision the tongues of flame formed taloned hands of burning white, tearing at the grey whirling world around them. The Illusionist smiled and began to spell-weave her own design into the flames, transfiguring them into ghastly horrors that reflected the worst fears of those that faced them. A savage mongrel with flame drooling from its ember’d maw chased down a ranger while two of his comrades stood stricken with terror as a snake formed from blood-soaked flames and bore its fangs down upon them.
A young ranger – a boy really ran in terror from a mage who threw a curse at him, slashes from invisible swords appearing in the shield he hung on his back. He ran towards the wall of blood-flame, leaping past a roaring lion with a mane of fire into the circle of flames with a cry of pain. As he emerged Mercy blinked, moving through space to where he stood in agony at the burns seared into his flesh. He jumped with fear, almost falling backwards onto the ground as she appeared in front of him.

“Please, please, I don’t, I haven’t done anything! We haven’t hurt you!” he cried, tears of pain welling in his eyes as he tried to move his burnt arm to the sheathe that hung at his belt. Mercy examined the boy, kneeling down in front of him as she considered his words, uncaring of his feeble efforts to reach his weapon.
“You’re right.” She spoke. “I have no cares for the feuds that my ancestors held against yours.” The boy sighed and closed his eyes slightly before looking up into her unseeing pair.,
“I know who you all are” he spoke vehemently, “I recognize that symbol” he pointed at the silver chain that hung from Mercy’s neck, raven flying over a silver tree dripping blood, it’s roots holding the black stone that Mercy used to summon her long-dead ancestor’s spirit. “You’re Rhadurans” spoke the teenager, though in truth Mercy had no idea of telling his age, “And you’re all supposed to have died out long ago” he whimpered through teeth gritted half in anxiety and half in pain.

“Perhaps.” Mused Mercy, “But it is oft the way of history that the things that mortal men suppose are naught but ash and lies upon the winds of time.” she knelt down next to the boy-ranger and stroked his hair - to her touch it felt matted and congealed with what Mercy assumed was blood. He whimpered again in pain and terror.
“Please.... Please, can’t you just let me go - I can run away, I’ll never even talk to a ranger again... I’m not sworn in, I was only here for training, I want to, I don’t..” the boy’s words came tumbling out of his mouth like discarded playthings - jumbled and half incomprehensible and Mercy cocked her head to the side, examining the boy - his grey shape already fading as his soul shrunk into the deepest corner of his mortal flesh, cowering from its imminent destruction.
“Isn’t it better?” she asked, “To die here - quickly and cleanly than suffer through the years of torment to come? I can make it instant and painless but she -” Mercy pointed over to the other side of the lake “will make it last years. The Queen of Rhudaur (Aura) will slay you simply for the blood that runs in your veins. She will make you suffer for the sins of your ancestors - surely it is better to die before you are entrapped by such horrors?”

The boy moaned and rubbed his temples, trying to block out Mercy’s words, but the more he tried to ignore them, the more they rung true. He gritted his teeth against what was surely a spell of some kind and grunted at her.
“You can’t know that you will win, we are still fighting you and we will continue.”

Mercy looked on him sadly, his eyes staring into her pearly white ones.
“These” she indicated her eyes, “Do not serve me any more - I have a greater sight and I have seen the victory of the Dark Lord in the East - you delude yourself if you think you have a single chance. His plans will cover the lands of all this Middle Earth in a darkness deeper than midnight and then he will give all you who once opposed him to those most sadistic amongst his ranks and order them to make your deaths stretch decades.”
She knelt, unsheathing her Misericorde and pressing it against the boy’s chest with one hand, taking his own hand and placing it upon the hilt of the dagger.
“What is your name?” she asked softly, the last tendrils of her spell entering the boy’s mind.

“Gregir Thornfield.” he spoke with resigned finality as Mercy felt the tears running down his soul.

“I’m Mercy.” she spoke with a small smile, pressing down upon the blade as Gregir gasped his final words.

“It’s.. cold.” and with that his soul slid from its earthly casing.

Mercy stood and turned to Taliha, the circle of bood-flayme leaping in front of her.
“Burn them all” she ordered as the fire lept high with hungry, grasping talons.

Beren Camlost
02/Dec/2014, 07:00 AM
Khallador Galerida
Imelda Cambel
The Four Winds



"Our days have darkened,
and we have dwindled; but
ever the Sword has passed to a
new keeper. And this I will say to you,
Boromir, ere I end. Lonely... are we, Rangers
of the wild, hunters - but hunters ever of the servants
of the Enemy; for they are found in many places,
not in Mordor only.

"Travellers scowl at us, and countrymen give
us scornful names. "Strider" I am to one fat man
who lives within a day's march of foes that would
freeze his heart, or lay his little town in ruin, if he
were not guarded ceaslessly. Yet we would not have it
otherwise. If simple folk are free from care and fear,
simple they will be, and we must be secret to keep them so.
That has been the task of my kindred, while the years have
lengthened and the grass has grown."

~ Aragorn,
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring




"Surely good with me," said Khallador, gripping Bulgard's strong hand. "With a man of your strength and a woman of Issy's fierceness, I feel more confident about our chances anywhere we go."

He beamed, rising up from his seat, to embrace Taerion manfully. "Nice to see that scowl wiped off your face, old man," said Khallador, slapping the older Ranger on the back. "And I look forward to sharing command with you, Taerion. I'm as much rusty as you are, I must admit," Galerida said a little nervously, sitting down. "I haven't commanded a party of Rangers beyond Osdolen's walls in four years. I'm glad you'll be with me to shoulder the burden." Khallador nodded. "There are some good men at High King's Crossing, thanks to you, Greyfang. Rangers are stronger together; we'll come upon the road as we enter the city so we'll collect them on our way just in case any graverobbers or hiding outlaws threaten our passage."

Khallador's attention was diverted, seeing a small grey-cloaked blonde enter the tavern. She was very young, barely out of her teens, and shyly asking if this was where she could join the Dúnedain Rangers. Mirana and Gwandhyra appeared next at the table and agreed to join the mission but she made it known her disbelief in the existence of witches.

"Mirana, your ignorance disappoints me, and yours, as well, Gwandhyra," said Khallador sadly, shaking his head. He turned to the new girl (Orianna Thornhill) calmly. "The sorcerers of Rhudaur were, for a time, a tool used by Angmar to attack our people centuries ago. They were defeated at the Weather Hills by the forces of the Dúnedain and the elvish army of Lindon; soon after, Imladris defended its borders from their aggression in the year 1356 of the Third Age." He looked back at Gwandhyra and Mirana. "Those battles are well documented in the histories of our kin and in the archives of Lord Elrond in the Last Homely house of Rivendell. Many elves are still alive who remember the conflict and the black castles of our enemies still stand in the Lone Lands, empty cathedrals of evil, Bilbo Baggins wrote about in There and Back Again."

Khallador frowned. "Many spellcasters were killed by Elves and Rangers but the Coven was not wholly destroyed; the survivors merely vanished into the wild, fleeing the Dúnedain and the Eldar. They have not been seen in Eriador for some time but, as we all should know by now, deadly things have been invading Eriador even before the Days of the Watchful Peace ended. I fear the witches may have returned. We must recover the cache of elvish weapons and armour to destroy the mages and protect ourselves from their dark magic." He stood slowly, looking cooly at the skeptics. "Orcs and trolls are not the only minions of Sauron, my friends. There are fouler things in this world." Khallador strode out of the Four Winds to get ready, saying over his shoulder at Taerion he'd meet him and the Rangers outside the Gate.

"Hello, dear," said Imelda Cambel softly to the new recruit (Orianna Thornhill), tearing her jade-green eyes from Khallador's retreating figure. "Please tell us your name and history so we can begin knowing you well." Once she was finished, Imelda gazed at the village girl with a somber intensity. "You must take an oath when you join us, Orianna. I'm not sure how much your mother told you about the Rangers but there is something you should know before serving with us. A new hour comes and with it a new horror. Our days are darkening and we have dwindled as our foes have multiplied - they are found in many places and not Mordor only. We are a lonely people who seldom are praised or respected, the Rangers of the wild - hunters of the vile things that lurk in the hills and creep through the sunless woods."

Imelda smiled tightly, the patrician's woman's fair green eyes glowing with pride.

"They run from us. The roads of Eriador and the quiet places therein where simple folk rest easy at night are guarded by us and what peace there is in these quiet lands is achieved through our sleepless watch." Imelda reached, touching Orianna's dirty-blonde hair with an almost maternal fondness. "You will cross many mountains and many rivers, you will trod many plains and scour many forests to face many dangerous things." She cupped the shepherdess's cheek tenderly. "If you are willing, repeat my words, lass." She removed her touch, clasping both hands together on her lap as she intoned with a clear, dulcet voice: "I am a Ranger of the North, defender of the realms of Eriador. I am the guardian of the wilderness and the shield of the innocent. At all times I will speak the truth and to fight for the welfare of all, to live by honor and glory and to obey those places in authority. Preserving to the end of any enterprise begun, supporting my fellow Watchers in the battles we fight. I am a daughter of the Dúnedain and a Ranger of the North and I pledge myself in service of the Heir of Isildur this day and for all my days to come."





*


TWILIGHT



Chief Kellan
Helwen Grimsteel



http://i244.photobucket.com/albums/gg19/Aigronding/Aigronding126/44306226-8f5d-4943-8b36-3cc5f06a47f5_zpsb8532134.jpg



- Source: Skyrim ruins artwork (http://th07.deviantart.net/fs71/PRE/i/2012/021/6/f/skyrim_fantasy_ruins_by_tarrzan-d4n5pyh.jpg)-

"The Rangers have all gone away, folk
tell me. I don't think we've rightly understood til
now what they did for us. For there's been worse
than robbers about. Wolves were howling around the
fences last winter. And there's dark shapes in the woods,
dreadful things that it makes the blood run cold to think of.
It's been very disturbing, if you understand me. / Deadman's Dike?"
said Butterbur, looking even more dubious. "That's haunted land,
they say. None but a robber would go there."

"The Rangers go there," said Gandalf. "Deadman's Dike, you
say. So it has been called for long years; but its right name,
Barliman, is Fornost Erain, Norbury of the Kings. And the King
will come there again one day; and then you'll have some fair
folk riding through." ~ from The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

"She was an innocent woman but her striking beauty was nearly identical
to the handsome looks of one bandit lass,
Helwen Grimsteel of the Angmar Remnant, who haunted the Greenway and the East-West Road.
Her wanted posters were posted all over Bree..."
~ from The Rogue Striker RPG


"Rangers are in the city," said Helwen Grimsteel, the brocaded fabric of her red Númenorean cloak billowing around her legs as she burst through the chamber. The handsome, middled-aged woman crossed her slender arms. "Are you going to do something about them or should I play Queen Bee again, Kellan, hmm?" she asked tartly, narrowing her icy-blue eyes. She stood in the airy, ornate throneroom of Minas Aranie - the Tower of the Kingdom - which overlooked Terminus. It was the region of Fornost nestling the ruined entry wall of Eriador's ancient ruined capital which had sat in crumbled majesty a few hundred Númenorean miles from the Breeland for centuries.

"We should get out of this pettifogging town," he slurred drunkenly and slurped down the dregs of North Downs White Lightning in his glass bottle. The slovenly banditlord of the Phantoms of Angmar sat on the gilded chair of King Arvedui in the guttering candlelight, one leg slung over the armrest. "We gave the Leviathan what he wants. We're filthy rich but still hanging around this dump. Let's get away from here and disappear forever."

"This is an excellent place to hide," Helwen disagreed with the elderly chief. "We could pay Corsairs of Umbar to raid Lindon and the Wethrin Isles for us with the payment the Leviathan gave us for looting the tower...and acquire more money than we were given before. Eventually, we'll be the wealthiest thieves in Eriador-"

"I'm sick of you telling me what my organization is going to do, missy!" Kellan shouted, throwing the bottle at Helwen but, with a deadpan expression, she evaded a blow to her face by merely side-stepping to the right.

"Maybe you should fight me for it," Helwen offered, pulling a dwarven scimitar out of her scabbard.

With a gimlet stare he shambled from Arvedui's throne toward her threateningly, taking a knight's long bejeweled knife from his moonstoned belt, but collapsed with a shrill cry when Helwen rolled the broken bottle toward his feet. He made a grab for the weapon but she pinned his hand to the white and gold marble floor then severed his head with a brutal swing of her curved blade.


*


Khallador Galerida
Helchon
Terminus Tower

"Well, we've managed to avoid plenty of trouble on our way down here so that gives us something to celebrate about," said Helchon, tapping his aleskin against Taerion's as he took a seat beside the veteran and Mirana. The Rangers were seated at a plank table in one of the guard towers by the gate of Terminus, the area of Fornost which met the boundary of the North-South Road. The Rangers had travelled over thirty miles since the morning and were having a rest in Deadman's Dike. For supper they were having Imladris cherimoya, loaves of Gondorian Bread Lancir had traded to Khallador for a barrel of Nob's Fearsomely Sharp Lemonade, Combe Valley cheese, and turkey meat which was dried and salted.

"I would feel happier if some Rangers were on post," Khallador muttered, looking at the scenic view of the derelict city through one of the cross-shaped arrow-slits. He was hoping to collect some more Dúnedain Watchers for their band but there were none on the walls when they arrived in the starry twilight. He savored the creamy texture of a cherimoya slice and washed it down with Bruinen water of Rivendell which filled his flask. "How are you feeling, Orianna," he asked the archer with a grin, scraping Lebennin butter over a piece of bread. "Did plenty of riding today, huh? I hope you don't mind the on-the-job training we -"

Suddenly, a grey-feathered arrow shot through one of the windows. It pierced the Beren and the Blues novel by Miranda Lynn Clementine which Helchon took from his saddlebag to enjoy reading while he ate by the candlelight. "Orc breath, can't people wait to kill us at a decent hour, for Nienna's sake!" complained the young, dark-haired Ranger to Isolde. "And that was a signed copy! They'll pay for this outrage." Huffing out a breath, he rose from his seat, grabbing his longsword leaning against the nearby granite wall.

Khallador rushed from his wooden chair to look through one of the arrow-slits. There were brigands in grey leather uniforms amassing below and there were several archers taking position on a rooftop. "Guess who's coming to dinner?" Khallador dryly said to Taerion, arming his pistol-crossbow. "Get downstairs, would you, old man, and take the Rangers along? Orianna-" he flicked his gaze to the blonde "-how about you stay here with me, sniping. Show us how good you are with that bow." He didn't want to throw her to the wolves yet. Small steps.





GM UPDATE:


Rangers, respond as
you will and prepare yourselves
for the journey to Osdolen then
meet Khallador and Taerion at the Gate!
Flash forward in time to Deadman's Dike
and begin killing the thieves.

Rillewen, show up as your archaelogist
and join the fray. She can talk to Khallador
and Taerion about the Coven of Rhudaur
after the fight and before we leave for Annúminas.

Ercassie
04/Dec/2014, 11:48 PM
http://imageshack.com/a/img923/1381/YN2CS9.jpghttp://imageshack.com/a/img922/2344/0su61i.jpg

Mirana Elforiel and Gwandhyra Harion
Terminus Tower

"That is a man on edge," Gwandhyra remarked through a shaggy head of hair, as he mentally digested Khallador's bracing lecture and history lesson that had been directed at them back in Osdolen. The cause for their lieutenant's curt response to an off-the-cuff comment, had left the Gondorian with a bad taste in his mouth. "I but registered my surprise and disappointment at the news," he recollected "and get duely thrown in as an accomplice to your stubborn defiance."

The two had rallied to each other's confidence since the rousing declaration of their leader at the outset. Ana had but ducked her head with courtesy and kept toward a quiet contemplation all throughout their journey. This behaviour shocked and annoyed her usual partner in crime. Might be that his lesser knowledge of their jurisdiction made him naturally defensive. Gwandhyra had quite amazingly managed to hold his tongue at the time, and support his distant relation by ensuring she was not left to lick her wounds alone. It was only since pairing up with him at all that she had found the voice to even speak before superiors amongst the force. Now, spared from the threat of rebuke, Gwandhyra did not stay his tongue or disapproval of their recent encounter. The two drank quietly and largely unobserved amidst the small band of Rangers. Ana devoured her food quite ravenously, startling her comrade, and oblivious to Helchon's jovial mention to Taerion. Her friend, watched for cracks or any sign that she was like to cry, until Ana put down her bread, and stared openly at him.

"What is your concern ?" she demanded, as usual forthright with her expression.

"I may be unaccustomed to the countenance of Arnor," Gwandhyra persisted, grumpily, "but none with ancestry about Ithilien shall ever forget the despoilment of Minas Ithil by black magicks. Nor that it was Earnur of Gondor who ..." he relented with his own recount of history at that point, observing the woman's furrowed brow. "Do not take it to heart," he bade the youthful face before him with a tone gentle as though he were facing his young daughter. Somehow Jowan's words came back to haunt the Southerner. Great large eyes she had, it made the rest of her face disproportionate. It made her appear innocent and naive. It brought out his paternal influence, and he raised her chin with one hand. "When Khallador said that he was 'disappointed' .." Ana's cousin commenced trying to soothe her, needlessly as it turned out.

"I am not a fool nor ignorant," Ana spoke up, though her grey eyes stayed low. "Might be that I do believe that Witches were only fanatical occultists who flocked to covet the Witchking's shadow and grew fat off hearsay. His own unnatural advantage came from the accursed ring which infested his lifeforce. But to believe that an ordinary mortal man may bend the will of how things should be sits not right with me. It is just not empirically possible."

The practical young woman pondered thoughtfully as she sipped at intervals from her refreshing draught.

"I refuse to pander to the the claim by which every beggar peddling buttons that you turn away from your door will effectively curse your name thereafter. Every two-penny street magician with a pigeon in his hat will boast that he is one of the lost Maiar, if you lend him the time to speak on the matter. The only true power that they or any who call themselves "witches" command is fear. It is trickery and deceit for the most part. The greatest way to swell the numbers of these fool pretenders and the rumour of their fell abilities is to humour their deranged self-boasting. People are far too concerned with superstition and time embellishes all the real accounts on what was seen and done."

"You might say so to Khallador the next time he shames you before others," Gwandhyra mentioned, with a bemused low chuckle. He was still somewhat stunned by the woman's decision to recoil from debate. Personally he had undertaken marathons of philosophical discussion with a certain equally as verbose Elf, and only usually withdrew when a need for rest and water drove him to defeat. And then reluctantly.

"For all our sakes," Ana considered, patiently, "I do hope that Khallador is proven wrong upon this subject. But it would have been counter-productive for me to argue the point any further with an officer, particularly in front of a new recruit. He is in charge, he has been granted that honour and responsibility. Without order, we all fall apart. United we stand and divided we fall. We shall seek these weapons because that is his command. That is an end to it. We handed him a prompt to make due explanation to the new girl. Job done. You shall not hear me speak again on the subject."

Together the grizzled man and fresh-faced woman turned to glance upon Oriana, and the Rangers looking to make her welcome. No mean feat, given their current predicament. And still the fates conspired to plague their small party. They had gone apparently the length of time it took for some new peril to assault them.

When the call went out for arms, Ana and Gwandhyra rose wordlessly with swords apiece. They exchanged a solemn but intense look upon each other, and then made to throw their lot into the fray, side by side. The Rangers took the stairs down to the fast emerging conflict, two abreast, and arrived with sharp glances and sharper blades to prove that there are some matters, such as subduing evil, when all differing opinions will fall into a common meld of alliance.

Ankala Teaweed
05/Dec/2014, 05:20 AM
At the Four Winds Tavern

It had been a long and strange journey for the young Ann Kalagon. She'd left her mother's village on the edge of Mirkwood in search of her goal to become a Ranger. She thought of nothing but how she might become a more effective fighter against the orcs and other evil creatures that plagued the North. The threat seemed to her to have grown in the past few years.

She thought much about how she might pursue this goal, and mostly her thoughts circled around and then back to the Rangers of the North. Would they accept a young woman from outside the Dunedain to train with their ranks?

Her pony Feather was in good hands with the handlers of this big establishment. The feed the other horses were eating smelled very fresh. Feather would be happy for a good rubdown and a rest, as well as the company of the others.

Following the directions she'd received from the handler, she had approached Roadan and ordered an ale, then proceeded to the table where sat the people she'd been told represented the forces of the Rangers. The names she'd been given were Khallador Galeriad and Imelda Cambel.

"Pardon me. I am here to enlist. My name is Ann Kalagon. I am from the woodsmens' villages near to the great forest of Mirkwood. I want to fight the orcs. I want to train. My only weapons in my village were a poison blowpipe and a hunting knife, but I am willing to train hard."

Greyfang
09/Dec/2014, 02:06 AM
http://i1080.photobucket.com/albums/j334/Winterwolf27/Icons/Family%20Emblems/DawnstarEmblem70.png http://i1080.photobucket.com/albums/j334/Winterwolf27/Icons/New%20Icons/Taerion%20new%20icon.png http://i1080.photobucket.com/albums/j334/Winterwolf27/Icons/Ranger%20Icons/ArnorianRangerRank3VeteranRangeroftheNorth.png

Taerion Greyfang, of the family Dawnstar.
Ranger Veteran
The Four Winds Tavern.
Shortly before the company sets off.

Taerion grinned further as Khallador Galerida greeted him with an embrace, a joke and hard-bitten smile. Those were good things to see - instant signs of a good leader, not to mention the way the other rangers defered to Galerida, the loyalty and love was plain to see.
“Ah, you’ve made a fine garison here and rebuilt the city masterfully my friend! A great many more victories have been made possible by your commandership here than by my wayfaring around Evendim Lake.” Taerion reassured the captain.

The grim-faced ranger bowed at the grey-cloaked young woman (Orianna Thornhill) who had entered the inn as he and Khallador conversed stepped forward and began to undertake the recruitment process with Imelda Cambel, the new Captain of the Hidden City. As she did so another woman entered, accepting a tankard of ale and announcing herself as Ann Kalgon. As Khallador left, instructing Taerion to meet him at the city gate, the grizzled ranger raised a hand in farewell before greeting Ann.
"Welcome Ms Kalgon - your enthusiasm does you credit," he said with a short bow, "Though if I may caution you on over-exuberence. The Rangers of Arnor have a long tradition of accepting those without the lineage of the north, for blood begets no betterment between, simply difference. Indeed the woodsmen of Mirkwood must hold fearsome trackers within their midst for over the years, quite a few of their number have found the hidden city of Osdolen unbidden and that is no easy task." The old ranger leaned back, running a scarred hand through the streaks of grey in his hair.
"But I warn you, while we hunt orcs, it is not for the sheer pleasure of their slaying - we are the thankless guardians of this land, seeking not just to protect the living but also the remnants of Arnor that still stand."

Taerion laughed gruffly, "But my apologies - you've not been here five minutes and already been ambushed by an old ranger! I'm Taerion Araelen or Dawnstar in common, though folks know me better as Greyfang. I command a company of rangers in the ancient capital of Annuminas - the place to where many of our folk are journeying now. Perhaps I will see you there?"
The old ranger gave a short smile as he began to make preparations to depart.
"A hunting knife and a blowpipe are a good a start as any and I've a feeling you'll pick up swordplay fast" he said to the young woman before turning to Roadan,
"A refill before I leave if you wish Mellon," he joked, "And I'll shout the lass one also when she'd like."

"Imelda Campbell, the hidden city's new captain is who you'd be best talking to for joining up" spoke Taerion gesturing towards the fair ranger as he began to sharpen the hunting knife that sat at his belt.



They were a people strugling to hold onto their heritage and their history,
simple wanderers and vagabonds in a realm they once ruled,
long-wearied and long in tooth as each day more and more
of their thankless work and tireless devotion was swept away by
murder, robbery, befoulment and plots.
By monsters like Helwen Grimsteel. By her.
- The Rouge Striker RPG


http://i1080.photobucket.com/albums/j334/Winterwolf27/Icons/Family%20Emblems/DawnstarEmblem70.pnghttp://i1080.photobucket.com/albums/j334/Winterwolf27/Icons/New%20Icons/Taerion%20new%20icon.png http://i1080.photobucket.com/albums/j334/Winterwolf27/Icons/Ranger%20Icons/ArnorianRangerRank3VeteranRangeroftheNorth.png

Taerion Greyfang, of the family Dawnstar.
Ranger Veteran
Terminus Tower, the Ruined City of Fornost.

Shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhiiiiiink! Shiiiiiink! Shiiiiink!
Revenant whispered softly as Taerion drew his whetstone across the blade. The Claymore was a massive sword with a blade just over three and half feet in length and was two hands thick. The entire sword was in total over four and a half feet (140 cm) with a cruciform crossguard, grip and pomel almost a foot long. It shone with a golden light, which was either the steel or perhaps it’s manner of forging or perhaps a glaze applied afterwards or during the sword’s creation? No one quite knew really for the blade was ancient. Taerion guessed it was made at the peak of Arnor’s glory or even in Numenor before the fall.
It was certainly heavy but lighter than one would expect at only two kilograms and etched into the golden metal was the cirith: "I am the protector and enforcer of he called Karkallion. Ever shall I be loyal to his blood and his liege."
Taerion had searched what records there were for a man by the name of Karkallion but had found no records of such a person. It could be assumed however that Karkallion had been a massive person for the blade was once much larger before Taerion found it buried within the rubble of Annuminas and ground out the rust, decay and sharpened it again.

He had been surprised to find the sword's hilt, grip and massive pommel all made of solid metal, carved with intricate runes, though he supposed it made sense to counterbalance the great weight of the sword. He had reduced the size of the pommel to keep the balance with the smaller blade and re-cut the jewel that had been studded there - a star topaz that gleamed with light. The rest of the blade carried a few white and gold jewels but its main ornateness came from the flame patterns etched down the blade that Taerion had recut into it.

After all that Taerion thought the blade deserved a new name and so he had titled it Revenant - A spirit returned from the dead. Imagine his surprise of course when as a young ranger on one of his first missions began to ambush a group of orcs and to his shock and horror the sword as he swung Revenant at the orcs it had begun to heat within his hands, the blade glowing red as if just pulled from the flames of the forge while the grip was curiously cool. The Orcs had run screaming as the blade burned them but Taerion almost set himself on fire in shock. His captain of the time had an ancient elven sword that glowed blue near the orcs and he knew of another ranger who had a bow that chilled his targets to the bone but the young ranger never suspected that he would ever possess such an object.

"So you think this is really brethren to the weapons in the cache? Like your own?" He asked Khallador, pointing towards the Ranger’s own serpentine sword. “I suppose it makes sense - I always felt that Revenant here was originally forged for a bodyguard or place protector rather than a lord or person a gentry. I had to grind down so much of the blade just to be able to use it properly without my arms dropping off halfway through a battle. I can’t see some dainty lordling marching about with such a monsterous blade strapped to their back - no, more likely this is blade of the ten-foot wall of muscle and bad attitude that would follow such a person around.” Taerion grinned and stopped his musing to raise his own aleskin to Helchon’s.

“Aye, with the state the north downs lately that's quite the achievement my friend.” spoke Taerion from his place on the corner of the plank-wood table within Fornost’s outer defences.

“You know, it’s ironic really,” he spoke to Helchon and Orianna, addressing both the young rangers “We’re basically doing a tour of the capitals of the north-kingdom here. Osolden, the Hidden City is our current capital but before that when Arnor had split into three nations, prime of those Adethain had its capital in Fornost here, the Nobury of Kings and our destination, Annuminas was the great gold-spired capital of the whole of Arnor in its peak.”

Taerion followed Khallador’s gaze out the arrow-slit of the ruined tower through which eventide streamed in a glorious mosaic of light. “Agreed Captain. I think I shall have to go on watch myself for I shan’t sleep at all with such unease. That is after I finish this wondrous cherimoya of course..” Taerion helped himself to another small loaf of the gondorian bread the rangers were fortunate enough to have traded for.

Unfortuntely however he was unable to take a single bite as an arrow flew through the window, almost skewering Helchon. “Bloody brigands!” before thinking about it, “I will make them bloody.” growled Taerion. The Veteran Ranger grinned at Khallador fiercely, “Old man I may be, but I bet I’ll still stick more bandits than you!”

He turned to the other rangers gathered in the tower, hefting Revenant with both hands along the long grip.

“You lot! Down the stairs two at a time! Shieldmen and woman at the front, archers behind. Swordmen with me! We’ll take the rangers in the courtyard while our archers keep theirs busy and the shieldsmen watch their backs. Now get down there and clear out this bandit filth!”

He saw Mirana and Gwandhyra readying themselves for the fray and called to them, “You two! Follow me!”

With a cry of "ELENDIL!" Revenant began to grow hot in his hands as Taerion lept down the stairs, bashing open a door and letting out a roar of vengeance as he shoulder-charged into one of the nearest bandits, sending the man reeling as Taerion turned to a nearby bandit who looked at him with startled eyes as Taerion brought the claymore sweeping up across the body of the man, burning through his armour and skin and turning to counter a blow from another before dispatching that attacker with a blow from Revenant, the blade now glowing a deep red as it cut through the bandit’s sword with a crack.

“Spread out!” he yelled to the Rangers, “Flank them and protect each other’s backs!”

Ankala Teaweed
10/Dec/2014, 06:19 PM
Ann felt a spike of excitement hazed with a little caution as she waited for the two Rangers she'd approached to respond. And then
one of the veteran Rangers spoke in welcome, looking her dead in the eyes. "Welcome Ms Kalgon - your enthusiasm does you credit."

He actually made a short bow, her own eyes dipped in tracking this motion. "Though if I may caution you on over-exuberence. The Rangers of Arnor have a long tradition of accepting those without the lineage of the north, for blood begets no betterment between, simply difference. Indeed the woodsmen of Mirkwood must hold fearsome trackers within their midst for over the years, quite a few of their number have found the hidden city of Osdolen unbidden and that is no easy task." And with that, he paused briefly seeming to consider his words to her and continued, "But I warn you, while we hunt orcs, it is not for the sheer pleasure of their slaying - we are the thankless guardians of this land, seeking not just to protect the living but also the remnants of Arnor that still stand.
"But my apologies - you've not been here five minutes and already been ambushed by an old ranger! I'm Taerion Araelen or Dawnstar in common, though folks know me better as Greyfang. I command a company of rangers in the ancient capital of Annuminas - the place to where many of our folk are journeying now. Perhaps I will see you there?
"A hunting knife and a blowpipe are a good a start as any and I've a feeling you'll pick up swordplay fast"

Finally he had paused in his greeting remarks, Ann Kalagon felt the need to say a few words in reply to his statements.
"Sir, I am honored to meet you and I appreciate your words of caution. Yet things are getting harder and harder where I come from. We've had our share of attacks by goblins out of the Misty Mountains. And yes, it is true that most all our young people learn tracking to some extent. Some become very very good." Beyond that, what was one to say of tracking. She had a few stories of her own, of small hunts, and then the last time the goblins had attacked the villages, her brothers and she and the neighbor youth had tracked them far enough to know where they'd come from, before they had run to alert the Beornings, who had helped to repel the goblins that next night when they'd come again to kill and pillage. It was a story to tell some other day, perhaps.

Ann was not too sure of the proper way to cement her introduction, in response to a bow. She knew not how to courtsy, and was it proper to shake hands? Salute maybe? But Greyfang just said to her, "Imelda Campbell, the hidden city's new captain is who you'd be best talking to for joining up".

Ann said, "In truth, sir, I have been traveling all day and was hoping to get a meal here at the inn? Although if I am required to go straight to training, I am ready.
"I will report to the Captain, as you say. Thank you for your help, Sir" She looked at the person he'd gestured toward in speaking and walked up to Captain Campbell, and again, presented herself.

"Captain Campbell, I am here to volunteer for the Rangers. My name is Ann Kalagon, I am from one of the woodsmens' villages on the eaves of Mirkwood. We have felt the growing threat of goblin attacks. My only weapons are my hunting knives and a poison blowpipe, but I am willing to train hard."

After introducing herself, she stood at attention and her heart raced. So long on the road, and here at last with Rangers. It seemed from Greyfang's words that she would be accepted into ranks of trainees, but in truth she had no idea what would happen next. All her hopes and fears pinged on this moment. Yet her stomach betrayed her and took that moment to groan loudly. There was such a clamor of voices in the inn, what with shouts for ale to Roadan, she prayed the Captain had not heard the embarrassing sound.

Dragonsong
13/Dec/2014, 05:55 AM
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Tahliana Bramblebrook
The North Downs (near the entrance to Osdolen)



Screaming out in frustration, Tahliana kicked angrily at a stone by her foot, missed, lost her balance with the movement’s momentum and slipped to fall flat on her behind. Startled and a little disorientated by the thick cloud of choking, clay-coloured dust she had sprayed up, the young woman clumsily scrambled to her feet and drew the rusty bar of iron she called a sword out of it’s sheath before waving it about in a furious, frantic manner; in such a way that the only thing was was likely to ever hurt was herself. After a few seconds of this she realised what had happened, and in an attempt to regain her dignity she very swiftly straightened and sheathed her blade, coughing to hide the embarrassed blush upon her cheeks. She put on her very best serious face as she brushed off her tan leggings, ivory blouse and brown-leather ‘adventuring’ jacket, “And that’s what I WOULD do if an Orc or other nasty dared to show it’s ugly mug!” she declared loudly to herself, quite confident not only in her ability with a sword (despite never having actually been in a fight except with that one snobbish boy at the Bree markets…) but also that nobody bar the squirrels and birds had heard her.

Placing her hands on her hips, she surveyed the land around her for the umpteenth time and sighed. Trees, trees, more trees, a bit of old ruined rubble, even more trees...everything here looked the same. Sure; it was far more interesting than the muddy streets and paddocks around Combe, her hometown, and the view from a height was stunning; Evendim lake in particular was spectacular and Tahliana had never seen so much water...but still. It had been over a month since she had learned of her true heritage from her aunt and uncle; that her parents were rangers of the north, those mysterious folk who sparked rumors of danger, adventure and treasure whenever they visited Bree, and nigh on three weeks since she set out to seek some of this glory for herself. Adventuring had sounded like so much fun! Tahliana had decided that she would learn how to use a sword and a bow, find her parents and help these ranger folk kill baddies, reclaim their ancient homeland and find treasure, or whatever it was they did. How exciting! She’d become a true hero, and people would sing of her daring feats of bravery for centuries to come!

But so far, her journey had been rather wretched and uninspiring. She’d been robbed of most of her meager savings before she even got as far as Archet, her horse had spooked on a mountain-trail when they encountered a snake and it had run off, her packed food supplies had long since run out and to top it all off she had no idea where she was.

Harrumphing, Tahliana plonked herself down on a rock. She was hungry, thirsty and oh so very tired. Her feet complained bitterly from how much walking they had done recently and her legs ached terribly. This had not gone to plan at all; she hadn’t even bumped into a single ranger, nor any orcs, and now she was having doubts about the whole venture. She had known that the hidden city of Osdolen would be difficult to find; it wasn’t called hidden for no reason after all, but she had sort of assumed that she would be smart enough to work it out, or that she would have made friends with some wandering rangers by now that would show her the way.

Tahliana had no idea just how close she was.

Rainelle Hérandil
14/Dec/2014, 01:33 AM
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Gwendolyn Elders
Coming upon Deadman's Dike




Gwen rode hard to reach the rangers as fast as she could. The horse was becoming very tired, and she knew she would have to rest it very soon. She wished she could just instantly be in Osdolen without having to spend the time traveling there. But that wasn't really a possibility for her, so she kept the horse moving at the fastest pace he could maintain. She had him run for a ways, then let him walk for a bit until he was a bit rested and had caught his breath, then had him run a bit more. It wasn't the best thing for the horse, and she felt bad for him, but she needed as much speed as possible to get word to the rangers before it was too late.



She decided that, seeing as she was nearing Deadman's Dike, she could stop to rest there, and let the horse get some rest. She was surprised, therefore, when she rode upon what seemed to be an attack going on between two parties. She pulled the horse up sharply to avoid running him directly into the middle of the battle, and took a swift look around. To her delight, she saw a lot of rangers, and recognized the enemy they were fighting as brigands. She was glad it wasn't more of those Rhudaur people. She swiftly dismounted from her horse and looped the reins over a nearby bush before drawing her weapon. She couldn't join in the battle against the Rhudaur, but she could definitely join in this battle and aid the rangers.


She ducked behind the shelter of a tree and watched for a good opportunity to join in the battle. She watched some of the rangers rush out of the tower place and begin fighting their foes, but some of them had bows. Gwen frowned and crept up behind one of those archers. From a concealed sheath, she slid out a very well-made knife, which she used expertly on the brigand archer's throat to put an end to his assault on the rangers. One enemy taken care of, the young woman proceeded to work stealthily on taking out the rest of the archers.

Beren Camlost
21/Dec/2014, 07:55 AM
Roadan and Imelda
The Four Winds

"One for the road, Greyfang," said the old hostler, Roadan merrily, refilling Taerion's glass with Breetown Rowanberry Brandy. The drink had a full-bodied, sweet flavor which left a pleasantly lingering aftertaste; it was brewed by Edward Sugarplum, a bartender at the Inn of the Prancing Pony; it was one of the many alcohol products of Eriador Khallador traded to Lancir for Gondorian beers and liquors to supply The Four Winds.

Imelda smiled at Ann Kalagon, a new female recruit who was looking to join the Rangers of the North. "Living on the fringes of Thranduil's wood you must know how deadly our mutual enemy is," said Imelda, furrowing her brow.

"I'm not sure how bad it is in your forest but the Misty Mountains is rife with danger and the lands nestling the chain. Westwards, bandits and vile things stalk the highways and empty places. We need more brave souls like you. Our ancient training ground is Maenorthrond (http://www.lotrplaza.com/showthread.php?76779-Maenorthrond-The-Ranger-Training-Grounds), located in the northernmost ranges of the North Downs. Before you journey there though, please join Khallador Galerida and Taerion Greyfang in their quest to recover ancient elvish weapons and armour given to our people; they should be at the Gate of Osdolen now, almost ready to embark on their trip to Annúminas. You can gain some experience with the seniors and their troop along the way but first, you must swear to allegiance to our order and the chieftain of the Dúnedain, Aragorn son of Arathorn - a Ranger called Strider. Perhaps you have heard of him?"

Imelda straightened, grim-faced, and intoned the words the of the Code for Ann Kalagon to recite: "I am a Ranger of the North, defender of the realms of Eriador. I am the guardian of the wilderness and the shield of the innocent. At all times I will speak the truth and to fight for the welfare of all, to live by honor and glory and to obey those places in authority. Preserving to the end of any enterprise begun, supporting my fellow Watchers in the battles we fight. I am a Ranger of the North and I pledge myself in service of the Heir of Isildur this day and for all my days to come."

Finishing, Imelda smiled again, gesturing to the pantry behind the bar. "Please help youself, I heard your stomach growling! Fruit, dried meat, cheese, bread, and more food you'll find therein and you can fill canteens with water at the well in the courtyard if necessary. I would suggest for you to sit and eat a meal but unfortunately Khallador and Taerion must be away rather quickly, Ann, and they need help at Evendim."


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Khallador
The Gate of Osdolen

"And that's what I WOULD do if an Orc or other nasty dared to show its ugly mug!" Khallador heard a fair woman's voice loudly declaring either to the air or the guards on watch. Khallador, emerging from the windswept rubbled streets of Osdolen on his seal-brown Luneriver stallion, chuckled, watching a young girl furiously swinging around a sword by the entrance at Osdolen before plonking herself down on a big rock, looking exhausted.

"Raise the Gate!" he commanded one of the sentries and smiled at the woman as he walked his horse close toward her. "Welcome to the Hidden City, lass," said Khallador, his soft-spoken words in stark contrast to his menacingly scarred visage and densely muscular body.

"I am Khallador Galerida, the lieutenant of Osdolen, and this older bloke -" he gestured at his partner "- is Taerion Greyfang of the Dawnstar Family. We're co-leading a mission to Annúminas. If you're here to join the Rangers of the North I hope you would like to side with us in the venture, getting some on-the-job training before I send you to Maenorthrond to hone your skills. What's your name, maiden? And your home and story as well?"

He removed an aleskin full of water and a green Combe Valley apple from one of his saddlebags and passed them to her since he didn't see her with any supplies.

"If you need any more supplies, you can pick up some equipment and clothing inside the gatehouse. We've accounted for all the food and beverages we may need between here and our destination." He gazed at her steadily with a grave countenance. "First though, hear the Oath of Service, and recite my the pledge to the Dúnedain Rangers."

He paused for a second, giving her time to refuse if she wanted, then uttered the following words with mellow albeit somber resonance:

"I am a Ranger of the North, defender of the realms of Eriador. I am the guardian of the wilderness and the shield of the innocent. At all times I will speak the truth and to fight for the welfare of all, to live by honor and glory and to obey those places in authority. Preserving to the end of any enterprise begun, supporting my fellow Watchers in the battles we fight. I am born of the Dúnedain and a Ranger of the North and I pledge myself in service of the Heir of Isildur this day and for all my days to come."




http://i1080.photobucket.com/albums/j334/Winterwolf27/Icons/Ranger%20Icons/ArnorianRangerRank6Captain.png





GM UPDATE:

Ann and Dragonsong,
respond as you'd like
and then flash-forward
to the present with your
characters battling along side
Taerion Greyfang and the Rangers
of the North he's commanding in
the fray while Khallador and Merl's
character snipe at enemies from above!

Everyone, I'll be updating the
Rangers and Sorcerers
in my next GM update!

Aranadhel
22/Dec/2014, 02:04 AM
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Nyarane
Halcyon Guard
Maethor

Deadman's Dike


Blast this map! The elf cursed in Sindarin. She was seated on the grass, letting her horse drink from a nearby stream. She had been studying the old map of Arnor since sunset, obviously lost at the moment. Until today I cannot understand my Master's handwriting she mused wryly. Last she was here up North was during the Battle of Fornost a thousand years or so back ago if she still remembered correctly and she had come with her kindred. Ultimately the Evil was decimated and the Witchking fled back to Mordor. Or so she'd thought. When rumours had circulated that Evil had returned to Arnor Rane was sent out and meet up with Aranarth's people.

She sighed silently, very sure of herself that she was nowhere the former capital of Fornost. She wished she had someone to guide her on this lonesome journey. Come here, Brownfoot she called horse softly in Quenyan. Brownfoot trotted to where she was seated as Rane gathered her belongings and made herself ready to continue on her journey. She tucked everything securely and both horse and elf moved on.

Her stomach was rumbling from the lack of food these last two days but she was steadfast in locating the nearest Dunedain settlement or camp before she would break her fast. She closed her eyes shut and went into the Path of Dreams to appease her hunger knowing she was in no danger at the moment. Brownfoot neighed in agreement and slowed its pace to ensure its master gets her uninterrupted rest. Rane blinked her eyes the moment Brownfoot stopped in its track and she had her hand on the hilt of her sword instantly. What is it, boy? What do you smell? Rane found the answer to her own question when she heard not too far on her right the sound of clanging metals and shouts. Yrchs? She asked to herself. Nevertheless, she would find out the answer and kicked both heels, beckoning Brownfoot to head to the direction of battle. Quickly Rane stooped to open one of her pouch and blew the horn, signalling she was an ally to whichever side was friendly towards the Elves. There! She said to Brownfoot, her adrenaline pumped at the sight of the battle to come and unsheathed her sword and charging towards the nearest foe.

Tolkus
22/Dec/2014, 02:09 AM
The Wall

Captain Thalion watched along with a few of his guards as a women below at the gates was swinging a sword and saying something. Though she was shouting they could only make out a word or two because of her location close to the wall. Thalion's attention was drawn away by a call to raise the gates. He looked down at Khallador and gave him a quick nod and had the gates open. After closing the gates the good Captain looked below for a moment to make sure all was well before going back to his duties patrolling the wall, ever on the lookout for the enemy of the Rangers of the North. Or those who look for refuge in the hidden city.

Ankala Teaweed
26/Dec/2014, 06:15 PM
Ann Kalagon
at The Four Winds

Captain Imelda Campbell spoke to her of the hardships of her own lands and without a pause continued on about the process of enlisting with the Rangers and the training to come. Before a minute had passed, Ann Kalagon was repeating the words of the oath after the Captain.

"I am a Ranger of the North, defender of the realms of Eriador. I am the guardian of the wilderness and the shield of the innocent. At all times I will speak the truth and to fight for the welfare of all, to live by honor and glory and to obey those places in authority. Preserving to the end of any enterprise begun, supporting my fellow Watchers in the battles we fight. I am a Ranger of the North and I pledge myself in service of the Heir of Isildur this day and for all my days to come."

It was done! Just that fast, and she was now part of something larger than she had known before. Her heart swelled up in joy.

"Yes, Sir, Captain Campbell, it is as you say. The enemy raids the villages of the woodsmen in the forest of Mirkwood all too often. I look forward to training in the martial skills. But I am truly prepared to fight with what small arms I have while I wait to begin."

She saluted and the Captain gave her her first orders. Ann made to do as told as quickly as possible. She went into the cupboards and packed a saddlebag with foodstuffs, not even overlooking the meat as she knew from experience that she might have to eat that rather than go without. She filled her canteens with the fresh well water next. Back inside she returned to the side of the Rangers known as Taerion Greyfang and Khallador who were readying for a hard ride to give support at Evendim.

Deadman's Dike

The Ranger officers enlisted another young recruit. Ann wondered about their current mission but there was no time to ask any questions about the whys or wherefores. She was not yet too sure she'd be asking Khallador Galerida any questions at all; he was that imposing a character. She thought while they were briefly paused here, Greyfang seemed talkative back at the inn. Maybe I will get a chance later on to ask him about the place where we are. In fact they were seeking to take refuge for the night in some ancient ruins of a Dunedain city and she would truly have liked to learn somewhat of its history. What is this place, Sir?

Yet at that moment they were suddenly aware of the presence of ruffians coming at them. The robbers moved at once to assault them and so it was that in what seemed like only two days, she was in her first battle as a recruit; and she had no time to wonder further at this. Ann Kalagon fought alongside these Rangers of the North armed with only her hunting knives and her blowpipe. Ducking under the swing of an evil-looking curved blade, she slipped her left-hand knife into the foe's foot straight through the tendon, yanked it back, ducked and rolled out of reach. She regained her balance and spun toward the next to approach, sticking out her foot to trip him and then sliced him hard across his ribs as he fell.

She quickly skipped back out of reach, pulled her blowpipe from her cloak and shot a poison dart into the neck of a tall haggard-looking ruffian running toward them. He dropped to his knees, gurgled, mouth frothing, and died. She had only moments to pull out and shoot two more poison darts before she was again forced to rely on her short sharp hunting knives. One glanced off a robber's head but the second stuck into a third man's cheek. With a stunned look on his face, his eyes rolled up and he fell dead as well.

Dragonsong
02/Jan/2015, 04:56 AM
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Tahliana Bramblebrook
The North Downs (near the entrance to Osdolen)



Tahliana nearly jumped right out of her skin as a male voice, kind and gentle-sounding though it were, suddenly shook her from her silent ponderings and snapped her back to reality.

“Eeep!” she squealed, lurching forward off her rock and stumbling to her feet. Her hand reached for her sword, but as she spun around to face the voice she forgot about it entirely. For before the young woman stood the very thing of her hopes and dreams; rangers.

Tahliana simply stood there a moment, jaw agape and eyes wide as she soaked in the scene before her; one that she was sure she’d never forget. A whole company of rangers astride lithe-looking steeds had seemingly appeared out of nowhere; out of the rock face itself. They wore an assortment of armour, mostly leather and mail, carried weapons the likes of which the young woman had never seen before and their eyes seemed to glow with a fiery determination of which Tahliana was instantly envious.They were everything she had ever hoped; fearsome, valiant and heroic, and she knew in that moment that despite the hardships of her travels she had made the right decision. Now she knew for certain that she would become a ranger, and she would never settle for anything else.

She was once again brought back from her fantasies by the man’s voice, and her eyes were drawn to it’s owner; a stoic, gruff looking man upon a beautiful brown stallion. It was immediately apparent that he was the person in charge.

Wait, did he say hidden city?

“WOOO-HOOO! YES! I knew that I’d find it eventually!” Tahliana cheered loudly, overcome with relief and joy as she jumped up and punched the air above her. Then suddenly realising that perhaps this wasn’t the best first impression to make to the first rangers she had met, and important looking ones at that, she sheepishly straightened.

“Ah, why thank you, er, sir. Yes, it is certainly an honour to meet you both, Khallador and Taerion, sirs. I was just, well you see, I was...Testing your men to see how kind they would be to a poor lost outsider, sirs, not that I was actually lost; I was testing them, yes.” she stuttered in the most confident voice she could muster.

She clumsily caught the two objects hurled in her direction, and was immediately grateful to see the shine of a lovely, fresh apple. Not wanting to seem too desperate in front of Khallador however, she decided that she would not eat it until later, despite her stomach’s growls of protest.

“My name is Tahliana Bramblebrook, sir, although I recently learned that that is in fact not the name my true Father bore. I have come from Combe, near Bree, to find my true lineage and join the rangers, if you will have me, sir.”

She was greatly surprised than to hear an oath of service requested of her, right then and there. Tahliana’s heart began to race. Here it was; the beginnings of her adventure at last! Her whole life had been leading up to this moment. They had said she was foolish, when she set out from Combe, said it was too dangerous. They chided that she would never even find the city, that the rangers might just turn her away. But here she was, about to prove them all wrong. She would discover her parents fate, or even perhaps find them alive and well, she would help the rangers retake the north and reclaim their homeland, and she would become the hero she had always dreamed, one who would inspire stories and songs that would be told for generations.

Her heartbeat hammered in her ears, drowning out her own words as she proudly said, “I am a Ranger of the North, defender of...the, er, Eriador. I am a guardian of the wilderness and a shield for the innocent. At all times I will speak the truth and fight for...um, everyone, to live by honour and glory and obey...those in places of authority. Preserving to the end of any...um, job begun, supporting my fellow Watchers in the battles we fight. I am born of the Dúnedain and a Ranger of the North and I pledge myself in service of the Heir of…um, Isiladar? This day and for all my days to come.”






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Tahliana Bramblebrook
Ranger Recruit
Terminus Tower, Deadman's Dike; Fornost



There was a faint squeaking noise as Tahliana fiddled with her newly obtained leather armour, attempting to adjust the way the hauberk sat upon her waist. It had been a most generous gift from the man who tended the storehouse in Osdolen, considering she had had nothing to give him as payment, but it did not quite fit her, and she hadn’t yet become used to its weight. She moved awkwardly and hesitantly, something that greatly embarrassed her amongst these brave and seasoned warriors.

She had also yet to choose a weapon to specialise in; when asked, as she had been many times these last few days on their journey, she simply couldn’t decide. She wanted to try everything; swords seemed so noble in their deadly beautiful strokes, but hammers and maces appeared to get the job done just as well. And the thought of picking off foes from a distance with the awe-inspiring preciseness of a bow was equally alluring. For now she had been giving a plain, short sword to replace the rusty old thing that her aunt had gifted her, and for that Tahliana was extremely grateful; at least this blade didn’t look as though it’s hilt and grip were about to fall right off!

Creaking as she went, Tahliana slowly approached Captain Khallador and Taerion Greyfang. Although they both had gruff, toughened exteriors, Tahliana had quickly learned that they were kind, fair men who really looked after those in their charge, and she felt safe and confident with them in charge.

“Um, excuse me s-” before Tahliana could get their attention however an arrow suddenly flew in through the window, narrowly missing a nearby soldier. Tahliana gasped, barely containing her squeal; this was no time or place. She had to be brave now, a true warrior.

“Bloody brigands!” Taerion cried, “I will make them bloody!”

He began shouting orders, even as he drew his sword and charged towards one of the tower’s doors. Tahliana blinked, caught entirely by surprise; this wasn’t how her first battle was supposed to begin! She wasn’t prepared; there hadn’t been much time for training on the journey to Fornost, and she was woefully inexperienced. Her hands began to shake and her palms become sweaty, making it even harder for her to draw her weapon. Everything had become so confusing so quickly; not quite knowing what to do, Tahliana followed Taerion and the other swordsmen, trying best to not look as terrified as she was.

Isolde
03/Jan/2015, 06:12 PM
Deadmans Dike
Terminus Tower
Bulgard & Isolde

The ride had been long but nothing either of them weren't used too. They were now settled and resting, Isolde eating an apple and just generally watching the group while Bull seemed more enthralled in watching another man (Taerion) sharpen a rather impressive weapon. "Sword envy?" she leaned over to speak to Bull, grinning at the look of surprise he quickly hid.

"No, well..it is an impressive weapon." I hadn't realized I'd been staring so diligently but I couldn't seem to help myself. The sword was made for a man of great strength to wield it for no lesser man could hope to use it long without exhausting himself. I myself carried a weapon of companionable size but this one, I could truly appreciate it's craftsmanship. I suddenly had a clothe tossed at my face.

"You're practically drooling." Issy motioned at the clothe she'd tossed at him. "Stop staring and eat while you can." She returned to her apple but the hairs on the back of her neck were standing on end. It was quiet, perhaps too quiet and often too quiet meant trouble. It was the familiar hiss and twang of an arrow that stopped her mid bite. All eyes seemed to turn to Helchon as an arrow rest in his book. Issy grinned. "I'm sure we can get you another." She quickly stood and drew her sword along with the others.

Down the stairs they went following closely behind Taerion as he crashed the door and started literally cutting his way through the enemy. Issy found herself next to a young woman (Tahliana). She instantly recognized the look of fear in her eyes. "Ease your grip slightly!" she yelled to her over the sounds of metal crashing and men screaming. "Too tight a grip and your fingers will cramp!" She parried then stabbed the man in the chest before continuing to instruct the young woman. "Bend your knees slightly..and most importantly don't forget to breath!" She offered a quick grin before fending off another attack. She quickly glanced around to find Bull cutting a swath through enemy lines. His head was lowered and his nostrils flared, she'd seen that look before and it caused a crease of worry to cross her brow.

Last I could remember was seeing the blade of the man (Taerion) glow red and hear the screams of agony. Then there was the pounding of my heartbeat in my ears and my vision had narrowed and was edged with red. Uncontrollable fury was hammering through my veins and my sword, it cut through the bodies of the bandits severing limb from limb without rest. Those that tried to run were quickly grabbed and their breath squeezed out of them like wringing water from a cloth. Their swords cut at my skin but I felt nothing, just the need to kill again, and again.

Isolde 1/24
Bull 3/24

Ankala Teaweed
05/Jan/2015, 09:09 AM
Ann Kalagon
Ranger Recruit
Deadman's Dike

The problem with a blowpipe is that it is not really a defensive weapon, and also generally not of much help at close quarters. She had dropped a couple of the ruffians but there were many more coming at them. One she had cut into his side was getting up; that must not have been more than a surface wound. Ann had resheaved her blowpipe and held a hunting knife in each hand. They were sharp but she had to be closer in to do damage. She leaped toward the man who was now up on one leg and sliced him across the neck cutting an artery.

A youth spent growing up in Mirkwood meant that she had fought goblins, the experience of all woodlands villagers, but this was the first time she had encountered evil men. She did not like it. Actually she realized she hated it. She was really angry in fact, as though it was a grave insult to her kind, to humanity. Ann caught herself yelling some insult at the man bleeding from the neck as she spun back with her knives out ready to guard her personal periphery. A good thing as two degenerate-looking wastrels were coming at her from behind. She caught one with her right, her sharp hunting knife slicing him up the arm from wrist to elbow. The other, surprised momentarily, jumped back. She lunged at the one and caught him again, this time punching her left blade into his chest. She yanked it back hard, struggling a moment to free it in time to go after the second man. He moved closer again. She pivoted left and drove the right knife forward to shove under his chin as he tried to grab her. Connected! Again she yanked it free something tearing out, keeping her feet moving.

She was sweating now and more angry. If only she had a vantage point and a bit of distance to use the poison darts but it was all in too close. Ann turned and ran around the right side of the group to attempt to get to some better vantage point. But one of the thieves jumped up to block her path. Not slowing down she ran at him blades forward and managed to plunge with her left blade gouging him in the paunch while diving under his left arm. She had an advantage in that she was small and used to moving quickly!

I hope the Ranger officers can put a dent into their number, she was thinking. She knew it was going to be hard to do enough damage herself to this many criminals even though they were not all equally armed. She let her momentum carry her into yet another thief who was holding an axe. He swang over from his right trying to put it into her but she managed to veer left so it missed her though way too close. At that point, she danced up behind his right and cut his neck before he could stop moving forward, then kicked out hard with her left foot to try to trip the one next close to her.

Ercassie
11/Jan/2015, 12:05 AM
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Mirana (Ana) and Gwandhyra
Deadman's Dike


They took the stairs as a storm seizes the sky; their chase of urgent feet an overture to battle. The brigands had roused them, as a rash child might stir a hornets' nest, and the Rangers gushed forth through the door that Taerion had dashed aside, as though they were wine bleeding forth from splintered caskets. Helwen's swarm were engaged with immediacy, and the fact that they did not flee from the first proved just how little comprehension they held as to their collective fate.

Gwandhyra and Mirana fell unto the bout as though the tower had delivered them, each grasping a ready sword in hand, born into a world of combat. Together they clove a channel though the pulsing rush of grey-garbed fiends. Back to back as Greyfang had directed, a two headed, dual-bodied beast that swung and ripped at any fool enough to approach them with menace.

The twin blades, wrought of ancient Dwarvish expertise, were veterans of conflict and bore no blaze beneath the winking mosaic of twilight stars. They met the blades of thieves and pealed out repugnancy at even glancing contact with such lesser tools. For once Gwandhyra emitted but a grunt and grin, bereft of verbal offensive, the Man let his steel speak for him, though it was none the less gushing in it's bloodied conversation. A marauder chanced an ambitious blow toward the Ranger's head and found the blade, Lenduri, rise in aggravated reply. Gwandhyra swatted the affront harmlessly aside as steel rang out like a bell upon the impact. The cutthroat staggered back apace as his balance was thrown, and failed to anticipate the full fist which slammed hard into his throat. As he gasped in sheer denial of a crushed windpipe, the Ranger's front kick propelled him into the dirt.

There was small time to celebrate this first break, as another brigand sprang up to replace the fallen. Gwandhyra danced this second rival clockwise, that Mirana could effectively finish the bandit on the ground. She was less accustomed to the sword which she now wore as proud distinguishing bond to her kinsman. Years she had attributed to precise shooting with her favoured crossbow. But since joining the fray of scouting parties, proper, she had found that in they thick of the fray, it was beneficial to be adept with some melee ammunition. Her Father could make no use of his great ancestral sword, and so Gwandhyra had taken her aside to instruct her of it's advantage. The campaign in Angmar had been her virgin voyage with the blade in tow. This current would be her second.

Drawing the life of the fallen killer to a close upon the ground, her eyes rose to devour the scene which assailed her. The bearing of a heavy-set, determined villain, with a mind to put her to the ground, blinkered her thoughts and she sowed her feet firm in readiment. Stubborn will was a family trait, as well as prerequisite for a Ranger of the North. Today tenacity would prove her friend. Fury at the infestation of their hallowed ground by Bandits, anger simmered not so far below the Woman's surface. When a blade split the air between her and this tall, bald brigand, Ana leapt back and found Gwandhyra behind her. The robber leered with an assuming sense of victory, little expecting the sprightly Ranger to dash out at him. He parried the true charge of her sword, knocking it off course, and kicked out hard with a foot that rippled a resounding thump through Ana's stomach. She gasped, dropped to a meagre retreat, as far as her comrade's oblivious back would allow, and widened her grey eyes about the vindictive mask of the thief's triumph.

He stepped forth to assume his waiting kill, glancing from her heaving chest to fixed stare, and took full account of the great blade which hung harmlessly from her right hand as though it was broke at the bone. She heaved it nonetheless, and her opponent parried it with ease. He saw no time to stall her stronger arm that rose as though a mighty wing, with knife in hand. Those as she carried for sake of caution, and had awakened from slumber unobserved. The thin tooth of steel sank into the side of his throat as the Ranger leapt up like a sudden flame. She jammed it hard through the pipe of his throat until it rove through the skin opposite. Then she released all energy and sank to ground, ripping the knife free and a new mouth at the fore of her would-be killer's throat. It took but seconds, for him to fall to the ground before her, and already Gwandhyra was guiding her toward the next step of their gamboling progression.

Ana happened to glance up as she wiped her brow with the back of her knife-bearing hand. The other leant new strength to clasp the sword, and re-adjust the weight. She almost let it fall. A glimmer of garnet dread painted the air before Taerion, as though some mass firefly he sought to brandish as a tool. The Woman's jaw fell as she recognised the blade itself aglow with flame, and Ana shrank back terror stricken by this clear departure from the world as she understood it.

Grasping fingers pulled at Gwandhyra as he stole a moment to catch his breath. Ana seeking his attention, he rounded immediately, fearing she was imperiled. The shock of what had startled her saw the Man blink and tilt his head with intrigue.

"Seven Stars !" he marvelled, before he was rudely recalled to the fray, a weighty scimitar aiming to aqcuaint itself with his unwilling heart. The Man warded off persistent efforts of his foe to drill through his ribs, bones not withstanding. A fair elvish siren (Nyarane) had emerged upon the scene. "That may prove a boon !" the Ranger remarked, relief blended thick with wonder as the new arrived advantage supplanted fierce hope of a swift resolution.

Shaking his shaggy head, the Ranger found yet more cause to know awe amidst pandemonium. "Well will you look at who else found her way here, after all ?" he grinned, observing Ann Kalagon, known to him of old, though not in the context of battle. "Mirana ! Come meet, well mayhaps we should call take to calling you Mira, actually. To avoid confusion. This is Ann .."

"Can we ..." Mirana gasped as she dodged the arrogant intention of an arrow, "save the ...... introductions ..... until later ?"

Gwandhyra rolled his eyes but failed to forego the foolish grin. "Did you see the .. ?" he began.

"Yes, yes, the sword," Ana was beside herself with annoyance. Did the Man never recognise the profit in withholding words ? It had apparently escaped his attention that the new recruit had been with them since they left Osdolen. "Fight first," she reminded him, though nodded an amiable greeting toward Ann Kalagon. "Marvel after," she suggested, meaningfully.

"Sword ?" Gwandhyra startled, unaware just what blade she referred to, nor why it might be thought more interesting than an Elvish ally, but he knew better than to push his luck and interrogate his kinswoman yet further. The battle was not done.

Ankala Teaweed
07/Feb/2015, 03:49 AM
Ann Kalagon
Ranger Recruit
Deadman's Dike

No, fighting with small arms was better than nothing, but Ann was now wishing for either more space with which to counter the thieves who were mostly more well armed than was she, or something more effective for close fighting yet not too close? As she danced quickly around a section of the periphery of the fight, her eyes began to sweep the dead as well as the quick. Maybe she could find something to use?

Just at that moment their small group was joined by two more Rangers. Ann noted that Gwandhyra was one of them--her parents' old friend!--and he was accompanied by a woman near enough in features to be some relation of his. The duo fought together and in short order took down three or four more of the rogues. "I had better keep moving fast," she thought after being momentarily stopped in place by the sight of their entry and military coordination. One of the rogues was creeping up behind her back. She pivoted about and stuck her left blade into his throat before he could strike. "That was too close!" Then there was some flash of light in her peripheral vision, but she had no idea what it had been as she'd been looking to the left at that moment.

Gwandhyra spoke up introducing his swords companion to her. Mirana it was and as she dodged an arrow, said something like "save the meeting for later" though she nodded toward Ann and said something else that was not audible what with the yells of the fight and the grunts. Ann made a quick smile in return and kept her feet moving.

She wiped her left hunting knife on a coat of a fallen rogue, as she turned on her other foot keeping her eyes sweeping the space, when she spotted something glinting over in the corner by one of the fallen thieves. The fighting was now thicker toward the center of the area and so she decided to take a second to inspect the shiny object. Ann jumped over a corpse to skip past two more and there, by the leg of a fallen man in the corner, looked to be a sword. She pushed her right small blade into its sheath and reached out and picked the sword up from the floor. It was fairly light given its length, and not too wide. In fact it seemed to be a little shorter than the regular sword, and just very shiny with some tooled inscriptions along the edges.

"I hope I can handle this thing!" she thought and held it out to her right. "I could test the edge? I guess?" and she moved back closer to the fray and pushing forward with her left leg, slightly lunged toward the back of one of the rogues and stuck the blade into his ham causing him to shriek out loudly. She yanked it back, which then caused blood to spurt out like a fountain from a severed artery.

Greyfang
08/Feb/2015, 02:21 PM
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Taerion "Greyfang" Araelen (Dawnstar, Sindarin)
Ranger Veteran
Terminus Tower, the Ruined City of Fornost.


Dust swirled around the outer courtyard of Fornost Erain that was guarded by the hunchbacked giant of Terminus Tower, making gaunt-lords of mist-cloaked raminent rise and fall with every breath of sweet wind that swept into the old abandoned city.
Normally the city would lie quiet, forgotten and forsaken under a swift dawn that moved quickly to greener lands but tonight it moved with languid sickness, a diseased heart made to pump blood around a long-decayed body.
This 'blood' rushed around the veins of the city, following paths not tread upon for more centuries than mortal memory preserved, flowing to the mouth of the city where stood one lone and single tooth.
But now around this - this tower of terminus there was noise and fire and blood - making sanguine constellations within the even air. Battlecries and calls for aid were answered by screams of rage and pain that echoed like shades around the ancient fortress that man called Deadman's Dike.

Taerion lunged forward towards a sharptoothed female bandit with a bearded throwing axe in hand. The woman never finished her throw as great blade of Revenant sung joyfully towards her, glowing with a fierce red heat.
There was a gurgling whisper of wind from the bandit as she attempted to scream but her breath escaped from her neck rather than her mouth.By the time she collapsed to the ground Taerion had already pivoted around, sending a bandit who had almost lept upon flying with a kick into the unsheathed blade of his fellow. A fury of heat and rage, Taerion swept through the throng of rangers and bandits, the sweeping red arcs of Revenant aimed much at more at deflecting the blows of the brigands than striking any of his own.
As he swept through the attackers, Taerion's lips were constantly moving, murmuring gentle utterances as he weaved between swordstoke, parry, dodge and counterstrike.
"Siëlé nyámaica ar nyá quétta tinya leryalyë. I avatya ar tanya Vailaina o Eruva marnna tyë."*
It was a prayer, a gentle quenyan cadence long ingrained in Taerion's memory. With each exertion he uttered another syllable, repeating the simple prayer over and over.

It blessed forgiveness and release upon those who Taerion laid low, boons for which Taerion would later pray for himself at Sad Ainos, the Blue-Granite chapel that stood in the heights above Osdolen. It was his custom however to forgive those he slew in the protection of Arnor, for no bandit truly chooses the vagabond's life - each wretch found their way into such a life through the twists and turns of fate good and ill. They were not evil, merely the pawns of pawns, unknowing footsoldiers and servants to true evil and as such Taerion granted them mercy, well in death at least. In life they were lecherous and destructive, tearing apart the bones of old Arnor and making the restoration of the great northern kingdom less and less of a possibility with every ruin they befouled and desecrated.

Given a second's reprieve (an eternity in terms of the battlefield) Greyfang assessed the situation. Gore coated the leather gauntlet of his left arm, mixed with the mud and dust that fast became the medium of all and every battle. All the rangers fought hard and without remorse for in an ambush the most important thing was to get the ambushed to fight as hard until they could make a well ordered retreat.
Taerion looked to the south at the broken gate of Fornost as a blue-robed figure on a rearing charger (Nyarane) barrelled through the remnants of the great crenelated curtain wall of Fornost Erain. It was a testament to the craftsmanship and skilful design of the great fortress and capitol that the great protective wall of Deadman's Dike had endured ruinous war, siege, neglect and occupation and still stood strong at almost every point around the city.
The only exception to this was the great gate of the Terminus - the area where Fornost met the North-South road. Once the Terminus had been guarded by a fearsome barbican** and a duo of steel-bound doors of thick iron that had made the city impenetrable in the great battle of Fornost Erain. Well, almost. The histories told that after weeks of siege, the rage of the Witch-King of Angmar was so great that he had rode upon the gate himself, accompanied by no less than all eight of the Nazgul. As every ringwraith uttered dark words of power the sorcerous Lord of the Iron Lands had brought his flame-ran sword to great gate and with a word shattered the entire gatehouse crushing the defenders among the rain of rubble.
Now all that remained were the stone foundations that marked where the gate had sat and the great waist-high piles of rubble that littered the area. The only fortifications to have survived in the Terminus were the two great towers on either side of the ruined gatehouse that held the smaller, now also broken beyond use, gate that now stood alone, its big sibling laid low in the dust. The west of the two Terminus Towers had been ravaged by time and raiders and was now little more than rubble itself but east had been very well preserved and thus the choice of the Ranger’s camping ground.

Through the rubble that was once the great gate came the charger and its rider who, Taerion realised with a shock was an elleth, golden hair flowing behind her. Sweeping between the gatehouse that bridged the Terminus Tower and its broken sibling into the courtyard in which the battle raged she attacked the bandits with vigour and Taerion turned around to greet the elleth as she swept through the evil men.
"Seldom are elves looked for in these lands, but your welcome here." he grunted, recognising the woman from somewhere, perhaps Rivendell. However that didn't mean she was getting any special treatment. As he ducked aside to avoid an arrow to the eye he barked out a gruff order to her.
"Get around the side and flank them! We need to hold them off until the Capt'n sees the time is right to call a retreat. Then when he does you charge back to us, clear a path out!"

Indeed a retreat was the only viable option Taerion could see, but he trusted Captain Geridia to judge the flow of battle well enough and call the retreat when it was most fortuitous to the Rangers of Arnor. A crash drew Taerion’s attention as a triplet of grey-garbed bandits poured into the courtyard by the broken bridge that once connected the greathouse to the rest of the sprawling-multileveled city. Now with blood-painted grins they looked down below. Below where the recruit Ann Kalgon has hefted a sword, claiming the weapon from it’s fallen owner, attacking with vigour the exposed back of a bandit-skinned fiend, but unknown to her the three stood ready to leap upon her and the other rangers below, daggers shining bright and bows bent to cruelty.

“Arrrrcherss! Fiends upon the northern causeway! Ann! Above you lass! Shouted Taerion as he sprinted towards the northern side of the courtyard, Revenant leaving a glowing trail in his wake. Arrows flew towards the three rogues, spearing two of them as a third launched a shaft towards Taerion himself, knocking the grizzled Ranger backwards as it caught in his pauldron. Though Taerion could not tell if the fireworks of pain that lanced through his shoulder was due to a bruise, or the piercing of the arrow deeper than just the armour or at worst a shattered shoulder but still he could heft Revenant’s weight with little pain so he continued on, his eyes widening as a hulking giant of a man pushed past the rogues, leaping down, the ancient cobbles breaking under the impact.

If you looked past his abnormal size you would have seen that he was quite young, probably no older than twenty at most Taerion realised. He might have been a boy of Bree once but those oversised limbs and giant fists would have made him the but of all the town's jokes. None would dare to mistreat him to his face of course but Taerion could tell that even behind the mix of rage, fear, addrenelin and determination in the young man's eyes. The bandits had been the only people who had accepted him and the young man who's body didn't know when to stop growwing was fighting to protect his family. Taerion knew what power that gave someone.

He winced with pain as he raised Revenant to guard stance, talking gruffly to Ann, his voice weakened by the battle's toll.
“With that blade you could do some damage my friend,” spoke Taerion with a grin, “You’re quick and you learn quicker and we must dispatch these foes as fast as thought!” He hammered
towards the giant, who was even larger than Taerion's seven and a bit feet. Greyfang cried with pain as he blocked the brute’s blow, his shoulder exploding with pain, however as he reeled backwards and blocked the next blow he turned the red-hot blade side-on, causing a shower of sparks to dance from the blade of Revenant into the man's eyes, scading flesh as good as any flame would do. As the man screamed with pain and tried to claw the molten sparks from his now burnt and blinded eyes, Taerion stabbed at the giant's chest, pulling Revnant steaming from his heart as Taerion barrelled past him. Taerion had not known his name but he pledged to light an extra large candle at his next visit to the chapel.
Using his own large figure and the chain-link armour he wore as a weapon Taerion charged into two brigands who had jumped down behind the brute, knocking them to the ground and shearing through their swords with a sweep of Revenant.

Above from Terminus Tower itself came the deep tones of Captain Khallador’s voice uttering fair Sindarin upon the night’s wind as the two rangers had agreed - if separated in battle orders were to be given in elvish, for no folk that would trouble them in these lands new that tongue.
“Taerion! Cano an dregad Harad Annûn vi na lothren!” (“Taerion! Call the Retreat Southwest to the wild!”) Taerion heard Khallador ordering the other troops in the tower to the stables and he turned around, shouting orders of the same, telling the rangers to get their steeds from the stables near gatehouse at the front of the courtyard.
Nearby the Ranger Mirana and the Gondorian Gwandhyra fought back to back, twin swords flashing as they dove through the furious melee as at their side a wide eyed Tahliana Bramblebrook held her sword like a butter knife, blocking attacks where she could and stabbing at air more than the bandits. With a sweeping kick he sent a discarded buckler towards her with a motion to her to use the shield for though it might have been small for the bute who had used it, it would cover the young woman quite nicely.
“You three! To the stables! grab your horses and guard the gatehouse till we’ve got everyone out!” he turned to the side, catching a sword upon his blade and kicking the bandit away as he saw another wave of the filth sprinting towards them, both from the levels above and the streets and alleys.
“Make this ordered and quick! Follow your training and if you haven’t had any learn bloody fast!” yelled Taerion stationing himself by the door of the gatehouse, glancing inside the stables in the gatehouse's side at Sirdal, his blue-roan gelding who champed anxiously upon seeing his master so close and with a feathered arrow shaft sticking out from his shoulder.

“Would one of you do me a favour and untie my horse?” Taerion asked of the rangers around and in the gatehouse, charging into a bandit who moved towards the crumbling stone structure. He looked around, finding the face of the man who had been watching him care for Revenant earlier, Bulgard his name was if Taerion wasn't mistaken. Massively built, he still charged into the fray, blade a-cleaving with untempered rage and ferocious abandon. A fine swordsman certainly but seemingly taken leave of his senses. Taerion’s eyes went wide as a bandit seemingly cut through the man’s armour but regardless he continued seemingly unfazed.
"Soldier!" Taerion bellowed at Bulgard, “You were ordered to retreat now retreat! Come with me - your life is not worth any number of theirs.”
As more bandits rushed towards them Taerion gritted his teeth, bearing the pain as he heard the noise of horses whinnying behind him as the rangers began to file out of the city. It was good but as Taerion saw the amount of bandits streaming towards him he started to get a little nervous. A glance however towards the men and women who held his back the feeling disappeared. These were good people - noble, well trained and most importantly devoted. That was what would ensure they would endure, that they would triumph and that one day they would reclaim their kingdom.

Taerion's total kills: 5 (All in this post) with two on the ground without swords. And two killed or badly injured by NPC archers. The total number of bandits fighting in the melee is now is 29 with around 20 of those now killed or severely injured. Very soon however there will be an uncountable amount of bandits upon the rangers as the second wave breaks upon them.


Everyone: Prepare to retreat and then flee on horseback into the wilds southwest of Fornost. You can take one or two posts to do this, however you like.


* Translation of Taerion's prayer in Quenya: "Thus with my blade and my words you are released. The forgiveness and freedom of the Valar and Eru be upon you."

**For those who aren't quite as chronically obsessed with Castles and their parts a Barbican is a very clever fortification in which a gateway to a castle doesn’t lead straight to a courtyard but rather to a walled road blocked by another gate. Thus if an attack is spotted heading toward the city the front gates are left open, as if by negligence - the enemy rushes in but faces the second gate and the first gate locks behind them, trapping them in and allowing the archers on the walls to pick them off at leisure.

Aranadhel
11/Feb/2015, 05:37 PM
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Nyarane
Halcyon Guard
Maethor

Deadman's Dike

Rane made sure to rein in Brownfoot whenever she felt her horse was about to trample a Ranger, easily distinguished by their grey or dark green cloaks with a seven arrayed star clasped on their shoulder and their taller stature than the enemies such was the battle in the thick of things. Hold steady, dear she kept whispering to Brownfoot in Quenyan as she slashed and hacked at the foes swinging her sword to the left and right. A few times arrows whizzed past both elf and beast and she made a mental note to take down the enemy archers once she had dealt with those on the ground. Rane never enjoyed killing the Edain even if they were evil but she forgot not the history regarding the Nirnaeth Arnoediad where the Mortals from the Easterling kindred betrayed the Eldar armies which led to their ultimate defeat at the hands of Morgoth back in the First Age.

Seeing the Dunedain huddled together in the middle she made it to their position making bodies out of the enemy and was greeted hastily by a seasoned Ranger (Taerion). by his looks with a full on beard to denote his age. She nodded quickly at the pleasantries and after hearing the order set by him she nodded and replied quickly As you wish, Dunadan. Just send me a signal when you are ready. With that Nyarane kicked the sides of her horse and made her way out from the middle towards the innerside of the abandoned fortress, flanking the enemies as she continued killing those that stood in her way with her bright gleaming sword showing no quarters. All the shouting and uncoordinated attacks from both sides made her a bit disorientated and dizzy but Rane recovered quickly to concentrate on the order given. When she was in the clear with no imminent danger in sight Rane swiftly switched from sword to bow and picked off all the enemy archers that finally crippled the enemy's ranged attacks. She switched back again from bow to sword and that was when she heard a booming voice coming from one of the towers above commanding the Rangers to retreat to the southwest. That must be the Ranger Captain (Khallador) she said to herself then without waiting for the signal executed Taerion's order and blew her elvish horn once more before charging back to his position, slashing and hacking the foes who dared near her. Dunadan! She called out to Taerion when she was within earshot to him. I have cleared the path as you ordered and all the enemy archers have been dealt with. Go quickly. I will guard the rear as my horse is quicker than yours. Go! She said, almost yelling this time and then pulled away quickly to halt the enemy from harming any more Rangers as they all made their way to the stables and out of the old fortress. Rane prayed that she will get out of this alive as her elven eyesight spotted more of the bandits coming from afar. Definitely their reinforcements. Oh how I wish my kindred were with me at this hour. As an elf she could endure better than the Mortals but as the battle wore on it slowly sapped her strength as she had gone some days without food. As she espied all the Rangers starting to clear out from the stable and out of the fortress Rane picked off the encroaching reinforcements one by one as she let fly her arrows. Seeing the enemy targets fall with ease like fallen leaves had her chuckling on the inside. She needs to hold the line till her quiver empties and await the signal to leave the abandoned fortress.

Isolde
23/Feb/2015, 07:01 AM
Deadmans Dike
Terminus Tower
Bulgard & Isolde[B]

It seemed I'd run out of bandits to kill for the moment as my chest heaved to get air through my burning lungs. I stood with my sword at my side, it's blade covered in the lifeblood of my enemies. It was then I could see through the red haze that had had me entrapped and there was Taerion. At first his words didn't penetrate my mind but soon enough I could understand him. It was then I took a quick look around. Bandits, more then I cared to count were streaming towards us. In that moment I understood and nodded such to Taerion.
I hurried to the stables and quickly gathered my mount, a thick chested bay. Pulling myself into the saddle I heard her.

"You're no good to me dead Bull."

Reining her dappled mare near me I gave her a lopsided smile. "I've no plans to go anywhere." She replied with a pursing of the lips and set her heel to her mount. I quickly did the same and was soon clearing the stables. It was then I noticed she had the rains of [B]Taerions gelding, Sirdal.

"Taerion!" Issy yelled over the chaos as she lead his mount close to him, Tossing the reins to him she yelled. "Hurry! I'll cover you." She'd pulled her horse bow as she spoke. Bandits were seeming to come from everywhere so she took aim at the closest and with a flick of her finger he fell back with an arrow through his eye. She pulled another and let it fly.

Linderon
28/Feb/2015, 07:30 AM
Four winds Tavern
Grant Tucker

Grant had traveled far from Bree in order to get to this tavern to become a member of the Rangers who he had heard stories of since he was a young child. Knowing that he was of the decent eligible to become part of this group he had already learned how to hunt and live in the wilds himself, now all he needed was the training of a Ranger in order to make him a master of survival. As he went into the tavern he removed his hood and scanned the room looking for the one that would help bring him into the ranks of the Dunedain. As Grant spots a empty place at the bar he walks toward it and order some food and drink and continues looking for that who he seeks. As the moments pass and he has no luck he signals for the bartender and asks where he can find the leader of the Rangers. The Bartender explains to him that leader, Khallador Galerida, was currently out on a mission, but his close relative, Imelda Cambel, was watching over the place and would be able to help Grant. The Bartender then points out the Person that he spoke of. Grant walks toward Imelda and bows at her feet and bows his head. "I would like to join the Rangers of the North and help serve the Dunedain as one of them, I am of Numenor decent and wish to be with my brothers and sisters"

Ankala Teaweed
01/Mar/2015, 07:39 PM
Ann Kalagon
Ranger Recruit
Deadman’s Dike

As she had yanked her newfound sword from out the ruffian’s gam, Ann heard Greyfang shouting loudly, “Arrrrcherss! Fiends upon the northern causeway! Ann! Above you lass”

Suddenly Greyfang leaped down from above himself, and saved her from a creeping attacker at her back she had not noted in time to counter. The Ranger veteran raised his sword up into a defensive posture and spoke, his voice now rough from use, “With that blade you could do some damage, my friend. You’re quick and you learn quicker and we must dispatch these foes as fast as thought!”

“Greyfang, Sir! Yes, Sir.” She surely would need training with the sword to use it well, but she was still mighty glad to have found what looked like a good one, a very old blade that was likely from these ancient ruins of the Dunedain itself. As she glanced in his direction she caught a brief grin, right before he then began to hammer at an actual giant(!).

“Where did that thing come from?” she wondered. She changed her grip on her lucky find now using both hands to wield it cutting left and right. It seemed they had dispatched most of the thieves at hand, yet more were now rushing out of the ruins. And then from above she could hear their Captain shouting orders in Elvish in his deep voice. And right after, Greyfang began to also shout out orders. She did not know much Elvish, but everyone was gathering up and moving back out. She stuck close to the veteran as she then saw an Elleth on horseback charging through clearing a path for them all to move back out past the piles of rubble to where they had left their horses stabled near a gatehouse at the front of the courtyard.

They had been ambushed here, and had fought hard. It did not seem that they had lost any of their number, but Greyfang had an arrow sticking in his armor though it seemed it had not slowed him. She hoped it meant it had not penetrated his gear! She herself was tired and soaked in sweat, but unhurt. It was clear they'd decimated the ambushers, but also clear their leaders knew that more were coming and it was time to leave. Her earlier fury at the fact that men had fallen into evil was now suppressed by cold need to pay attention and stay with the veteran for whom she felt the deepest respect.

At that moment she saw her beloved red roan horse, who indeed was standing ready to go, looking toward her as she ran up. Feather was fine! Ann Kalagon breathed in deeply in relief, and quickly took up Feather’s reins in preparation to mount up and ride out.

She looked back toward the ruins as they filed out. The moon had now come out from behind the clouds revealing the size and silhouette of an old ruined city wall and a great tower close by the courtyard. The sight struck her with awe, but again there was no time to wonder at the history of this old place. The Rangers were leaving; there was no rest for them here this night.

Beren Camlost
05/Mar/2015, 06:25 AM
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Henry Cambel, a seer and Imelda's son
The Streets of Osdolen



Khallador had been gone for an hour and Henry's mom had business in the Four Winds for a while. The boy was worried about his uncles and the teenager's father remained stationed at Windnesse. He couldn't play with any of the blokes in town since they considered him too soft to hang out with and they were very afraid of him, so Henry decided to visit the library where he could lose himself in one of Miranda Lynn Clementine's epic stories Beren had brought from Bree.

"Hey there."

Henry paused, hands still buried in the pockets of his black frock coat, and turned to face the stranger who addressed him. He restrained a gasp, keeping his face smooth, meeting the soft stare of a slender, dark-haired Ranger who leaned on a wooden crutch; his left leg seemed to have been amputated some time ago. "Morning, sir," he said respectfully when his shock subsided, shaking the veteran's proffered hand.

"I'm Boridhren," the grave Dúnadan introduced himself. "We've never spoken but I knew your father. He saved me in the tunnels of Gundabad three years ago when the Rangers of the North helped the Halcyon Guard search for Mordagnir. An Orc blade ripped right through me and I would have die if Thandir hadn't killed the goblin and carried me out of the fray. Your dad is a hero and I'm grateful to be alive because of him." Boridhren pursed his lips, concern knitting his brows together. "I hoped you don't mind me thanking you for lending him to us, son. My little girl would be an orphan if it were not for Thandir's bravery and many of the Dúnedain would be dead were it not for his courage and leadership. My sincere condolences for your sorrow and loneliness, Henry."

The boy nodded awkwardly with a wan smile, tears of pride filling his green eyes, fumbling a salute Boridhren crisply immitated.

"If you don't become a Ranger like your parents. That's okay, Henry. I want you to know that," the wounded Dúnadan said earnestly, laying a hand on the youngster's shoulder. "Certainly anything you do will make your mother and father proud."



*

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Imelda Cambel, Ranger Veteran and the Warden of Osdolen
The Four Winds, Osdolen


Imelda was drinking a hot cup of Rhudaur bilberry tea, wishing something would happen to settle her nerves, when suddenly a bearded man (Grant) entered the taproom.

"It is my honour to welcome you to the Rangers of the North, we gladly receive you," said Imelda cheerfully, gripping his hand, pleased with the distraction.

"You will need to find Maenorthrond (http://www.lotrplaza.com/showthread.php?76779-Maenorthrond-The-Ranger-Training-Grounds), the ancient training ground of the Watchers, in the northern territory of the Weather Hills. When you've been awarded a break in your instruction, please fullfil this task."

She passed him one of the packets Khallador had left on her table.

"Details about your mission are contained inside. When you've completed your assignment return here to report to me."

She asked him for his name and to repeat the words of the Oath of Service she intoned: "I am a Ranger of the North, defender of the realms of Eriador. I am the guardian of the wilderness and the shield of the innocent. At all times I will speak the truth and to fight for the welfare of all, to live by honor and glory and to obey those places in authority. Preserving to the end of any enterprise begun, supporting my fellow Watchers in the battles we fight. I am a warden of the Dúnedain and I pledge myself in service of the Heir of Isildur this day and for all my days to come."



GM UPDATE

Grant, you may post in Maenorthrond
when you can but since it's not much
active right now, you can begin your
assignment at any time; just pretend
that when you start it you are on leave
from training and are doing well with it.

A supply wagon to Osdolen driven by a merchant
from Bree, Andy Whitebeam, has gone
missing as well as its owner on the Greenway
north of the village community.
Discover what became of the vehicle, the goods,
the driver, and punish offender mercilessly.
Then report to Imelda Cambel.
You may complete this task in three to five posts if necessary



*


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Khallador Galerida, Aragorn's Chief Lieutenant
Fornost Erain ---The Wilds West of Fornost Erain

A NOTE TO THE READER:
(The first conversation between
Khallador and Gwendolyn was jointly
created by Rain and myself on Skype)

“Taerion! Cano an dregad Harad Annûn vi na lothren!” shouted Khallador, loading his pistol crossbow again. The dart zipped through the air and pierced the throat of one archer who took aim at the elven Halcyon rider (Nyarane) who suddenly appeared to succour them. "C'mon, greenie," Khallador briefly ordered Orianna, briskly moving past her to the door.

Just as he was hurrying down the steps, two bandits came running inside, teeth bared with long knives in hand. Khallador dispatched one with a bolt to the heart and, seconds later, attacked the other with a snap-kick that sent the wailing fellow roughly rolling down the bottom of the staircase. The lieutenant slew him, swiftly impaling the scruffy ruffian with a sharp stab of his longsword after cruelly slamming his boot on top of the criminal's hand before it could reach the fallen blade.

He made it to the stables unscathed and rode out of Terminus behind the retreating Rangers with Orianna along side him until he eventually rode past her but drew up short suddenly, sucking in his breath with surprise, when he saw Gwendolyn Elders spring before him.

Gwen had seen Khallador riding past her and had swiftly stepped out from hiding. "Hey, Kal." She called out, flipping her hair back a little as she put a hand on her hip. "Can't you do anything without my help?" She teased.

Khallador arched a brow. "Are you suggesting that a seasoned veteran such as myself can't win a battle without a little spunky redhead like you?" He tilted his head, green eyes glowing bright with amusement, enjoying the banter between himself and the young, witty archaeologist. "How many throats did you gash with that knife while skulking about, pray tell?"

She narrowed her eyes slightly. "Enough. Why do you think those arrows stopped raining down on you all?"

He doffed his hat toward her in thanks. "I appreciate your help, miss, but don't think I'll be paying for it. I don't think that was in our contract." He nodded back at the seat of his horse. "Get up here and hang on to me. We must away."

She smirked faintly and raised an eyebrow. "Oh, I'm so adding it to your bill." She said, before swinging up into the saddle behind him. "So, where are we off to?"

"Annúminas, Ms. Elders," Khallador answered, resuming his charge out of Fornost. "I'll explain why later. Right now, show me where your horse is if you've brought one hither."

Once Gwendolyn was seated on her own steed, Khallador returned to the Rangers with the archaeologist, joining Taerion at point. Greyfang had already commanded the unit to head southwest through the rugged, desolate countryside so he had nothing further to say until they were thirty kilometers from Deadman's Dike.

"Alright, halt," said Khallador laconically, easing his horse to a stop so the party could follow suit. "Give yourselves a rest and have a bite to eat," Khallador advised, dismounting. He was a kind of leader who led by a small number of short, concise directions.

"They won't follow us you think, sir?" asked Helchon, wiping sweat off his brow, panting.

"Of course not. There is no other stable within the district we were encamped and thieves like them prefer to hide. They'll stay in Fornost. I do intend to rid their filth from the city though this season or the next. They were wearing uniforms of a kind so I imagine they were part of a strengthening gang." He turned to look at the golden-haired elleth with a warm smile, hand laying over heart. "Nán alassëa tye-omentien! Hantanyet tulien. Nát alatulya síssë. Nányë Khallador Galerida, i Cáno o Osdolen," ("I am happy to meet you! Thank you for coming. You are welcome here. I am Khallador Galerida, the commander of Osdolen," Quenya)," he greeted her flawlessly in Quenya. He excused himself politely, telling the elven warrior and Taerion he would speak with them again in a few moments. "My dear Gwendolyn Elders, I am delighted to see you again." Gwen was an archaeologist who often sold himNúmenorean artifacts which he kept safe in Osdolen or traded with Oliver Rowan in the Bree Street Market. "I am honored you bravely aided us in in our most desperate hour. Tell me, what brings an archaeologist to a hornet's nest like Fornost? Surely there are other safer ruins in Eriador for you to search for relics of old, mayhaps?"



GM UPDATE



Everyone who was in Fornost,
you can now settle down at camp
in the wildernesse southwest of
Deadman's Dike and can converse
amongst yourselves until Khallador
and Taerion move the party on to
Annuminas once after Gwendolyn
warns them about the Coven.

Ercassie
21/Mar/2015, 09:41 PM
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Jowan Elfor
Library of Osdolen


The Library of Osdolen was a place of quiet refuge from the outside world, a temple of meticulous records and a place to sit in humbled awe and reminice of what once was. Jowan spent more time here than he had a thought to measure. It was a decision that he knew confounded many, and the startled stall of footsteps when he judged that folk observed him here had encouraged many a secret smile that he did not wear aloud. What must they think ? A blind man in a library ? He cared not. He liked it here.

Grasping his fingers gently upon the wooden windowsill, he breathed in, as though enjoying a deep refreshing draught. The bite of morning's early hours had departed with the company of Rangers out into the world. The ever more so balmy sun bathed the Ranger's face from this angle, bathed it in all of the colours that composed the stained glass windows. Here it mattered little that his eyes were closed to all their current glory. Jowan could recall the vibrancy of each design, the scenes depicted of the history of Arnor. He sighed in quiet reflection, and stood where he had always stood. Here he was not blind. Here he knew what the world looked like, and it rarely altered any. Yes, he liked it here.

He had never seen Henry before. Beyond the fact that this would be impossible, he nonetheless was unusued to encountering small children in his little haunt. They were things they changed so swiftly, that many had come into this world and grown to men, and Jowan had never seen them. He had heard their voices deepen, and their chatter move toward more serious debate. But he perceived the anomaly of a small boy inside on such a pleasant day. For certain children would have a want to run and play, tearing through the streets in games and frivolous pursuit. So he found himself lending an ear to the conversation between Henry and Boridhren. It tore at his heart to bear as witness to such a sorry exchange.


"I am lost," he lied, suddenly and selfconsciously vocal, as silence otherwise occupied the awkward hesitation. Had they left ? He had not heard the tread of an escape. The boy might creep but children are rarely masters of stealth, and Boridhren was unlikely to be classed as such these days, any more than Jowan was himself. Of the one-legged Man, Jowan knew enough that they were often categorised in the same circle, although to his recollection, they had never shared so much as a word. That would have to change. The sharp intake of breath that Jowan heard Gwandhyra take, every time the crippled Ranger's peg made sound, was enough to interest him. It would have made the most sense to ask his long-lost cousin, outright, what disturbed Gwandhyra about a Man with a wooden prop ... but Jowan was no longer in any position to gauge if a man was lying. He preferred to discover things for himself. Moreover, it was a pet project that he could occupy his days with. It was important to think of things that mattered little, to avoid languishing upon thoughts of things he could not change ...


"You know the kennels, boy ? I heard a boy." Jowan tapped his nose, knowingly, and turned to face what he knew to be the tapestry, it's hand-woven masterpiece singing of the woe of Fornost, hung upon the wall. The blind man shrugged his dark hair from his eyes as though it made a difference. As though the wall was in fact those whom he sought to encounter. The blind man stared intently and uselessly at the wall, though persisted in his conversation.


"Boys always know where the animals are found," he decided aloud. "I require a seeing dog. My daughter thinks she must organise this all for me, as though she does not do enough for me already. I am of a mind to prove to her I am not quite incapable." He extended a hand, reachingly, as though anticipating he should find a hand. "Boys should not be inside on a day like this .." he mentioned, struck the wall with his knuckles and recoiled in a show of exagerated shock. Slowly he turned, and gazed directly where he believed the boy were acturally standing. He winked, eerily.


"What do you say to an adventure of our own ?" Jowan proposed, gently. His face fell into a frown, as though he had just fallen upon the question. "You do like dogs ?" he prompted, as though there might only be one answer to such an enquiry, and glanced now keenly toward the boy and then the Man before him.

Ankala Teaweed
24/Mar/2015, 06:53 PM
Ann Kalagon
Ranger Recruit

Ann felt at one with her red roan Feather as the Rangers quickly rode out of the old ruins, which were currently held by a force of ruffians and thieves. Under the strain of an orderly yet hurried retreat, seconds seemed as long as minutes. They covered some miles first south, then west, from one track to another, and then angling southwest and off any track that she could see in the light of stars and moon. All these lands were new to her. She knew nothing of Eriador beyond old stories.

As they moved farther out from Deadman’s Dike, the retreat became somewhat less pressured. As well it was for the horses themselves have their physical limits to the hard punishment of any long-continued galloping. They alternated pace as they went now and slowed to walk them as the terrain was in places more tricky. Apparently the leadership did not expect any serious pursuit. The faces of those around her were all intent and focused. It was not yet time to relax or to let down guard, for there were other threats perhaps than those they had encountered in the ruins of Deadman's Dike.

Finally their Captain brought them all to a halt and directed the group to pitch camp and get some rest while night remained. Ann found a relatively-level spot to lay out her bedroll close by that of those Rangers whom she had met so far. She sat nearby Gwandhyra and Mirana, who certainly did share a familial resemblance to the older man Ann had met from her parents, far away in their village on the eaves of Mirkwood. Ann wondered how her cousins were doing, both those in the village and the two Beorning cousins who had accompanied her in her journey over the Misty Mountains on her quest to find and join the Rangers.

She pulled forth the sword she had taken off one of the thugs and examined it by the firelight. It was indeed a slightly shorter sword than most of those carried by her companions. It was light in weight, yet balanced in her grip, and of a metal that had a brilliant sheen reflecting the moonlight strangely. The etched inscriptions outlined the edge of the blade and traced back toward the hilt where the etching led into some design of beauty. She thought, though it was hard to see it well in the firelight, it seemed to be an iconic design or may be it represented some ward of protection? She hoped that one of the Rangers might be able to tell her something of what it meant, as she had heard the tales of old Dunedain swords having been worked with thought of curse against evil. And who knew among her people, what truth was in those stories or if they had in telling over the years lost the original meaning?

She looked up toward Gwandhyra and Mirana, her mind full of questions about the sword, about the place where they were, and far too many other things to sort out just now. She saw also Greyfang nearby, though he seemed to be in conversation with the Captain just now.

Aranadhel
01/Apr/2015, 08:15 PM
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Nyarane
Halcyon Guard
Maethor

Resting at camp southwest of Deadman's Dike - With the Company of the Dunedain Rangers



Rane espied her horse lazily which was grazing nearby as she sat comfortably on the ground having the bonfire as company and the less than a dozen of the Dunedain rangers walking around or sitting apart from her. She was very tired and very glad to have escaped, for a lack of a better word from the thieving bandits. Outnumbered the Dunedain were and she commended the Man in charge, Khallador who had greeted her briefly in Quenyan not too long ago before attending to more pressing matters with his subordinates it seemed. She will wait patiently til he was free of duty to brief him next from Imladris but until then she occupied her time just sharpening her daggers with a whetstone. Even though she was an elleth she was dressed quite ruggedly from not having the luxury of changing into a more comfortable dress suited for ladies. Her cloak she had laid aside to be used as a makeshift pillow and now all present could see her long shining golden flowing braided hair covering her shoulders up to the top of her bosoms. She rummaged in her pouch for any tidbits that was left and sighed in resignation. She looked at the faces of the Dunedain who she had realised stole glances at her from time to time and she smiled kindly to those who made eye contact with her. She then frowned a bit when she laid her eyes on Gwandhyra and called out to him in Sindarin. Greetings Dunadan. You look somewhat familiar to me. Have we met? She rose gracefully to her full height and approached him, acutely aware of his companion, Miranda next to him. I hope that lady would not be jealous of me talking to him! She laughed in her heart. She had learnt from experience the utter jealousy Mortal women held against the elleth because of their natural beauty that broke no comparison in Arda.

Ercassie
02/Apr/2015, 10:02 PM
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Mirana (Ana) and Gwandhyra
Aftermath. Southwest of Fornost
Many meetings



Dismay possessed Mirana as she huddled with the obstinacy of a rock, her back defiant to their guarded fire. She craved no comfort, believing they had not earned it. Forced from even the ruins of their ancestral haunt, it had not been ghosts that saw them flee. The very notion of those bandits revelling in their filth, infesting the broken body of the Arnorian legend ? It sat not well with her at all.

The retreat had been an unwelcome surprise but orders were orders and Ana could not conceive of a life where she ruled her own will. Liberty bred uncertainty. Trusting that her Elders would always know better than her was not always easy, but awaiting for the faith she held in their experience and judgement to prove itself (as it always did eventually) was the part most difficult to bear. It was without exception worth it. There was naught meanwhile but to adopt patience and hope. A Ranger's lot in life.

Ana pulled her knees in to her chest, ignoring the saturated cold that was encroaching upon every inch of her with as dire certainty as foul things were usurping her homeland. Gwandhyra laid his gaze about the rigid spine and pale, mud-flecked hands that peered out from amongst the dun brown cloak. The woollen wrap had else ways swallowed his young kinswoman almost entirely. She shared not her thoughts, for fear of being named a fool some second time.

The flaming sword though had thrown all that the young Woman had ever comprehended of the world into utter mystery. She did not like lacking understanding. Sullenly she contemplated all the possible ways and means that Taerion might have kept his blade so searing red. Had the Man rested his weapon upon the hearth, back in their camp, perchance ?


Gwandhyra grew swiftly bored when his cousin refused to communicate. He glanced about him seeking to gauge what the land might offer in the way of substenance. Always he preferred to make use of what was around him. If he lost his provisions from home then, he would not be at a loss. Ana preferred to be ready for anything. She did not chance to the fortune of locating resources. She brought her own. They had debated incessantly who was the better reasoned in this argument until Jowan had calmly pointed out, so long as the pair of Rangers were together, they possessed the best of both worlds.

There was no obvious source of roots or game or vegetation that Gwandhyra could observe. Only Rangers wrapping wounds and tending to their mounts .. He pulled his small pack from his saddle, eager for distraction, and found his hand close around a small wrapping he knew he had not stowed before they left.

Curiously, he pulled at the skin of the unexpected gift, and revealed cram. He knew a warm smile, recognising that his cousin had not only listened when he had spoke of the waybread from the East, but she had gone so far as research and make some of the fate itself. It was most welcome. Breaking it to quarters, he turned her by will and by the shoulder, uncurling her closed fist until she accepted the food. Might be she was even glad that he had thought of her. Returning the favour. She was hungry at the least, and devoured it heartily.

"I fear I am absent of honey cakes that you might cut with your new bread knife, there," Gwandhyra met his friend Ann Kalagon with fond relief, and eyed the blade she was inspecting with approval. His bottle-green cloak shivered as he laid a hand about his own, ancient Dwarvish sword with one hand, and tore a segment of the cram from the other, ravenously, with his very teeth. "Glad I am that you are with us, nonetheless, Ann." He offered her a square of the stalwart food source, eager to be sure that she was well. "How find you our little company thus far ?" he appraised his friend. Stood at last where and what she had looked to.

"My cousin, Ana is of sullen thought, I fear. Might be she is jealous of your prowess in battle. For certain" he offered Ann a quarter of the cram. "Your folk would be proud," he commended her sincerely.

Summoned by due reference, Mirana looked to turn and meet with Ann Kalagon proper. Now that chance allowed. "We are your folk now," she declared, plainly. "You fought well. And swords can prove quite cumbersome," she looked Ann up and down, and extended her hand, as plain a simple gesture. "If I was told your name in battle, I am sorry to say I was distracted. He told you I am Ana."

Gwandhyra failed to pick up his cue, for he was utterly distracted and compelled by recent memory. She was really here. He had not imagined it. There, plain as day, presented the elleth he had seen during the recent mission with the valiant Halcyon Guard. The elleth that Silugnir had spoke of with such fell threat and grim opinion. Was this divine creature honestly all that she had been named ... ?

"Entulit !*" he managed eventually, as Nyarane herself approached them; dropping a hand in the assumed head to heart motion of recognised respect. "Earenen at eleninen !**" the Ranger stuttered over Quenyan, fallen to disuse. "We have laid eyes yes, before this day. But never words."

Ana shared a knowing glance toward Ann as she observed the prospective entertainment, and shook her head in exasperation until long, dark hair tumbled from her muddied hood.

"You are staring !" Ana observed, helpfully toward her cousin.
"I ... No ... " Gwandhyra ran dirty hands the length of his warm cloak and failed to retrieve his eyes from Nyarane
"You are STILL staring !" Ana sighed, embarrassed on his behalf.

This time Gwandhyra was too spellbound to acknowledge that he should deny the allegation.
"My apologies," he finally recalled his manners. At the least in part. Utterly forsaking all thought of introducing the two Women, he wordlessly offered the fair elleth his hand. It was blood smeared from the recent skirmish and still held the last quarter of cram, he recognised belatedly.

"I was most reliably informed that you were possessed of strange reputation. That you are a bandit queen ?"

The Ranger creased his brow to wonder why Silugnir had warned him away from words about this golden jewel. The elleth raised in him a memory somehow. That easy laugh, the firm defiant jaw. An exotic blossom of the purest steel. Hera he admitted in his most private of thoughts. She had something on her bearing that was not unlike his Hera. Long ago. Gwandhyra ignored Ana's blushing disapproval.

"I think the rumours true," the Man breathed, awed. A sincerity kindled about the amber of his brown eyes. He shook his dark hair from his proper sights of her and marvelled. "For certain you have robbed the Sun of her shine. You wear her glories as unblemished crown ...."

He was STILL staring. Ana rolled her eyes at the clumsy attempts to fawn over the elleth, in favour of drawing Ann Kalagon from witnessing any further humiliation of her kinsman's addled mind.

"Your sword," she asked Ann. "I don't suppose it ever glows bright as a heated brand, does it ?" she asked, requiring a second opinion. One that was yet possessed of some common sense, in spite of pretty arrivals.


*(It is you !)
**(By the sea and stars !)

Aranadhel
05/Apr/2015, 09:38 AM
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Nyarane
Halcyon Guard
Maethor

New Acquaintances - With the Company of the Dunedain Rangers




Rane stifled a laugh at Gwandhyra's rustic Quenyan. She herself gave a short bow and replied to him in kind. Elen sila lumenn omentielvo (A star shines upon our meeting). She then took her hand in his and introduced herself in Sindarin My name is Nyarane and I hailed from Gondolin. Rane then repeated the introductions with both Mirana and Ann and offered her hand in friendship towards the ladies even if they think the elleth to be of a different stature altogether.

Rane swiftly turned her head back at Gwandhyra who was staring intently at her face, she was not sure if this was due to her bright blue eyes that her Mortal friends had said reminded them of precious jewels or the silky smooth ethereal golden hair of hers which shone brightly if under the sun. Rane considered herself pretty by elven standards but even she knew of her status in the elven society having come from commoners' blood. Nothing more. This she never shared with the Mortals lest they think she is just being arrogant and haughty. Maybe it was her tight body fitting tunic and leggings which had caught the Man's eyes as she had discarded her cloak and two of her top buttons were missing on her tunic above her bosom. She laughed again in her heart, pleased with the attention given. She played along and twirled a braid of her golden locks as she shyly said to him. You would call me a bandit queen hmm? Which elf did you meet and tell you that? Oh by the way do you by any chance have something to eat? I have not eaten for the past two days looking for the secret Dunedain encampment in Fornost. I got lost using the map, having not been in these past since we helped Aranarth overthrow the Witch King over 900 years ago she shrugged in defeat and looked at both Mirana and Ann also, pleading with her eyes of the same request she had asked of Gwandhyra.

Greyfang
12/Apr/2015, 11:11 AM
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The Colossus of Elendil is perhaps one of the most awe-inspiring structures in the entirety of Eriador. And for good reason. It is the father of the Agronath, both literally and figuratively. While the Agronath or the “Gates of the Kings” are the great statues of Anarion and Isildur that mark the ancient border into Gondor the Colossus depicts Elendil the tall, High King of Arnor and Gondor.
Clothed in royal robes and crowned a ring of heavenly stars, the High King Elendil holds no hand aloft in warning like his sons, but rather stands stoic and strong, the symbols of his house proudly displayed: The Staff of Annuminas is held in his left hand, with his right bearing the ring of Barahir as well as holding the great sphere that was the Palantir of Annuminas – the seeing-stone that once sat in the capital not a few miles west. Finally on his chest the great seven-pointed Star of the Dunedain shines proudly in the sun, glittering with silver.

Unlike his sons, whose two great pillars stood on either side of the Anduin, carved of grey stone, Elendil stands over the River of Kings, one leg on either bank, guarding the great sandstone bridge that fords the river under him, going from on foot to the other.

It is on this sandstone bridge, underneath the colossus – the aptly named High King’s Crossing (For it can belong to no other man, as long as the age of men lasts) that the Wardens of Annuminas camp.
Like their name suggests, they do not often leave the great city, but now they are without a captain and too few to either properly patrol the city’s streets or hunt for historical salvage within its buildings. Instead they guard the Colossus – for it’s veins of gold and silver and studded jewels seem ripe pickings for the prize-eyed criminals who now too often wander the once proud land. Perhaps it is a testament to the Ranger's guard that no rouges have yet succeeded in removing any of the finery from Elendil’s stern visage. Or perhaps it is due to the smoothness of the golden sandstone, unmarked by rain or time that provides no purchase to a would-be thief.

They were once a proud band of rangers, commanded by Taerion Araelen, the Greyfang but as the years have progressed the days have darkened and more and more rangers have been called away to other postings, leaving only the youngest or most ill-reputed. Now even their captain has left them (For a short time only he assures them) and the Wardens number only eight, united against whatever may come against them...


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Rose Yule
Ranger of the North
with

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Liz Wardstone
Joseph Stonheart
Ivy Fairchild
Caeton Tirinath
Jade Nimraelen
Davin
Joy Summers

The Wardens of Annuminas


High King’s Crossing - The Colossus of Elendil.



The dawn was creeping over the horizon as Rose came upon the Colossus - the fading moon sleepily dipping behind Elendil's crown, giving the long-dead-king's stern face a fearsome aura.
Rose squeezed her legs together a little and her blue Rowan rouncy, Galahad responded to her touch with a trot forward that quickly turned into a canter towards High King's Crossing. She was approaching from the east bank of the Branduin or Brandywine river as everyone home in Bree called it. The hills here were grassy and verdant, still flourishing from the heady spring that just passed. It made for a nice looking hillock but a treacherous ride as new grass covered over pits and holes in the ground. A nice surprise they had given many an adventurer. So Rose stuck to the old winding rose that snaked down the hills towards the colossus.

As she came down the paths Rose glanced into the sky once more - dawn was coming fast and the moody grey sky that threatened rain was fast becoming lightened by the tendrils of pink, red, gold and orange light that reached over the horizon like dragons seeking to engulf the world.

Rose pulled her arouch-skin cloak tight around her, dropping the cowl to show her shock of bushy auburn hair that shone copper in the morning light. Her grey eyes gleamed with fierce intensity as she spied the light of a campfire glimmering from within the crossing.

The bird that had found her in the heart of spring had carried a note scrawled in her Uncle’s unmistakable handwriting - long arched letters, scrawled quickly but still retaining a sharp, angular beauty. Taerion had informed Rose of his leave of absence from the Wardens of Annuminas and how he instructed the groups to stay close to the High King’s Crossing. Rose had intended to call upon the group but the universe had found a million and one ways to delay her. Finally however, she was here.

Rose was not however, the type of person to take chances - a roaring fire is enjoyed by all, no matter of their allegiance. There was no way to tell if the group camped underneath the High King’s stone visage were the Wardens, bandits or even those nefarious tomb-raiders who prowled the shores of Evendim and the hills of the North Downs. As Galahad’s hoofs clacked against the golden stone of the crossing Rose silently dismounted, bidding the rouncy to stay still and silent. A ranger-bred horse Galahad stood stock still, ready to bolt towards Rose at a word.

Rose began to make her way slowly along the bridge, taking the large wooden shield and spear from her back along with three javelins that she rested in special nooks in the back of the shield. It was a creation of her own, a long tapering shape with cutouts in the sides of the polished wood, emblazoned with a rose and thorns carved into the centre. Rose exchanged her spear for one of the javelins, poised ready to throw as she reached the zenith of the bridge where the entrance to the chamber lay.

It was almost like a paved courtyard, only about 15 meters wide, with the statue’s legs towering above it to make a ceiling and ending with a small wall that plunged into the river. In the middle of this courtyard sat the large fire and around it were a number of figures. As Rose came around the corner she only had a moment to process what she saw for an arrow flew towards her, embedding itself in her shield as she raised it to protect her face. She was about to throw the javelin toward the archer before the firelight glinted on the cloak clasp of one of the figures and she lowered her weapon.

“Who the hell are you?” asked a female voice as Rose put down her javelin and shield. Rose’s eyes searched the seven figures until she found the speaker, cowled and hidden in the shadows of the flickering firelight.

“My name is Rose Yule, I’m a ranger and the niece of Taerion Greyfang of the broken house of Araelen. Are you the Wardens of Annuminas?”

There was silence for a moment until another of the figures spoke only to be overruled by the first speaker.

“Ye-“

“No! Wait! Prove you are who you say you are” she spoke, dropping the hood of her cloak to reveal a young woman with fiery red hair and bright glimmering eyes, her teeth bared in a snarl as she levelled her sword at Rose.

Rose rolled her eyes and sighed. Bloody identity checks.

“Fine – The Old man’s got a big scar across his left arm and says he got it in a duel with a goblin chief but actually he got it the first time he used that big brute of a sword – nearly chopped his own arm off. He always makes a big song and dance about having his tea without sugar but he always puts two of his own sugar lumps in. His favourite pipeweed is Old Toby and he’s instructed you all to keep a special eye out for it and you lot…”

Rose stopped for breath.

“You lot are the Wardens of Annuminas – a ragged band of misfits and greenhorns, bold enough to wear the ancient name without knowing nor caring about its true meaning or purpose. Now if you’re going to shoot me, shoot me.” Rose squared her jaw and watched as the bows and gazes dropped.

“Good. Thank you, now for some civilised introductions. Who’s the one Taerion left in charge?” She said as the wardens took their hoods off. There where seven of them in total, though eight bedrolls Rose noted. The girl who had talked to her to start with, a tall redhead with fiery eyes smiled apologetically and offered Rose her hand.

“I’m Liz, Gwondir is in charge but he’s currently being the chip on the King’s shoulder.” She said motioning to the rope ladder that led up the back of the statue.

“Dawn lookout she means” spoke a young man with a thin mouth and a discontented expression and a large hand-and-a-half sword at his side. “Davin, Davin Valentine. This is Caeton Tirinath,”

He motioned to the largest member of the group, a man both broad and tall with a close cut of brown hair and eyes to match who held a large warhammer in his arms like an infant. “My lady, a pleasure..” he spoke with a bow, attempting to kiss Rose’s hand. Behind him Davin attempted to kick him in the back of the shins with a curse.

The auburn haired Ranger rolled her eyes once more. “Watch that tongue before you lose it soldier. Now how about the rest of you?”

A woman with a large swordstaff – a graceful bladed polearm used for slashing rather than stabbing like a spear – large brown eyes and wavy blonde hair that tumbled down her shoulders like a cascade of molten platinum stepped forward.
“Ivy Fairchild Mam, I think I remember you from Menethrond, you were one of the trainers right?”

Rose nodded, “I was for a time. As I remember you were a very fast learner, once you learnt which end of the sword to use.” She said with a joking smile. Pulling her cloak around her she took a seat by the fire as peered under the hood of the only member who hadn’t revealed their face.

“Who might you be?” she asked.

With a snort of displeasure the ranger took of his cowl to reveal a young man with a surly face and a curtain of lanky dark brown hair that hid his deep blue eyes.

“Joseph Stoneheart.” He mumbled, diverting his eyes from Rose’s as he played with the throwing knife in his hand.

“Any good with that knife?” asked Rose.

He spun it in his hand and in a sudden blur sent it flying towards the straw dummy that sat near the end of the chamber, thudding into the target’s heart.

“Best here.” He pronounced with a small smile which was replaced with a scowl as two small snake-shaped blades thudded into both the dummy’s head and heart.

Rose turned around to see a young dark skinned woman with frizzy dark hair and soft brown eyes grinning at her.
“I beg to differ Jo. Your throws have got strength but you lack a certain accuracy and…. Finesse.” She grinned at Rose, gold-flecked eye shining. “Jade Nimraelen,”

Rose looked at her with a smile, noticing the curved cavalry sabre at her hip. “I get an idea that you’re not quite from around here Jade…” she spoke with a smile.

“Not quite – I was born Jadaehi - my family are haradrim refugees living in Dorwinion – I got the travel bug and ended up here with this lot.” She said.

“I’d like to hear that tale sometime.” Spoke Rose with a smile. “And what about you?” she asked turning to the final member of the group, also the youngest. She was a lithe girl with dark sable hair and wide blue eyes that matched the dawning sky behind her. She couldn’t be any more than eighteen at most Rose thought, but she noticed the heavy flanged mace that hung at the girl’s side and the determined look in her eyes.

“Joy Summers.” Spoke the girl, her voice soft but unfaltering. “I’m just new but since all the rangers are on missions I’ve been place here for training.”

“We’re looking after her – she’s our little sister, isn’t that right Joy!” spoke Ivy with a bright grin towards the dark haired girl.

Rose grinned, “Good, good. That’s how it should be. All rangers are family – you must never forget that. No matter where you come from – it’s the people you spill blood with that are your true family.”

“Easy for the niece of the Greyfang to say, that!” said Caeton as he took a seat by the fire.

“Tirinath, I thought I told you about that tongue of yours.”

“My lady, I’m more than happy to waggle it somewhere else.”

“Oh I will cut off more than your tongue for that one!" said Rose with a laugh, catching the heavy Seax knife that Ivy threw to her, all the group bursting out with laughter as Caeton drew back in horror.

“Ah not to mind, here are you hungry? Rose asked, chuckling evily at Caeton.
“I’ve brought you all some supplies from Bree” Rose spoke with a smile. “If we dare risk a little more fire perhaps we can get a nice breakfast going for everyone…” she whistled and Galahad trotted up to the chamber, looking with muted interest at the Wardens.

So this is them. I expected something different. He seemed to say as the blue rowan rouncy trotted over to Rose. With a chuckle she took a number of saddlebags off Galahad’s back and opened them to reveal thick loaves of unleavened Lebenin bread, a large collection of salted gondorian meats and rashers of shire-cured bacon. She also pulled out a number of wineskins, filled to the brim with Imladris fire-whiskey and a bushel of sweet chetwood apples – a little wizened but still sweet. To each ranger she tossed a wineskin and an apple, which they were more than happy to catch.

“Any word on how the old city’s been?” she asked the group as they began to sit down around the fire, putting a few rashers of bacon and sausages in a frypan and breaking the loaves of bread. Over by the edge of the little courtyard a few of the majestic Even-Geese that populated the Nenuial hopped out of the water and took refuge under the colossus - There was a large goose - quite probably the mother, surrounded by three smaller signets. The mother was a startling reddish-god, the same as the rock of the Colossus and the city of Annuminas to the west. Her feathers shone in the morning's rays, gleaming with fire in the dawning sunlight. Her offspring were a dusky blue-silver, mirroring the enchanting waters of Lake Evendim, which was widely acknowledged by all to be the most beautiful lake in all of Eriador. As the Cygnets grew their feathers would darken and change, the blue changing to purple and then to red, the silver becoming a copper and then gold. The Even-Geese were some of the most hunted animals in Middle Earth, though once they had been protected by the King's Decree. But that, like the Kingdom - had fallen into shadow.

Rose grinned at the Geese as the group turned towards them and watched as the rare animals began to clean each other and fuss, ignoring the humans just nearby.
“Not much” spoke Liz, as quietly as she could manage. Her red hair was catching alight as the first rays of dawn broke over the horizon. “We’ve been having run-ins with the tomb-robbers of Rat Wraithblade but they’ve been keeping clear from us lately. Last we saw of them they were retreating back south.”

“I’ve got a bad feeling they’ve been collecting reinforcements.” Spoke Davin with a grim rumble. “He’s a slippery fellow – Been dogging us for years now. He’s got hideouts all through the Twilight Hills and around Lake Evendim – every time we stamp out one of his hideouts or kill some of his men he pops up with a dozen more.“

“You can see why they call him Rat.” Spoke Jade, running a hand through her frizzy black hair.

“He’s just a tomb-robber though – a poor man’s bandit.” Said Liz, “We haven’t much to worry about with him.”


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Ronin Wraithblade (Rat)
Evendim Tomb-Robber
High King’s Crossing.

Ronin Wraithblade’s nickname was well earned – he was a thin man, with beady eyes and gaunt cheekbones, lanky black hair that clung to his head like strangler weeds and a long face that made the comparison between himself and a rodent near impossible to avoid. More than that however, it was his nature – the way he snuck about, slipping his thin frame through tight spots and appearing where he was never welcome but always grudgingly allowed. More than anything it was his resilience. He wasn’t a big man, nor was he overly skilled in combat, but he was cunning. Traps and schemes came to him naturally and he was perhaps one of the more skilled poisoners north of Bree. Subterfuge and stealth were his natural elements.

People had long ago forgotten his real name - Ronin had just been replaced by rat. At first he had hated the name, ran from the jokes, recoiled from the name like a blow but one day he'd started to embrace it, to wear it like an honour and use it against any who he despised.

He had never been a leader, he had the ferocity sure but not quite the charisma for one of the big chiefs like Helwen to pick him or to gather his own following. But that changed a few months back, back when he had met The Queen. Rat licked his lips now just at the thought – the Witchlord of Rhudaur she had called herself, Queen of Sorcerers… and she had picked him as her servant, her officer. She hadn’t given him any of her magical powers when he'd asked for something to help him gain followers, instead the Queen had told him he would be given a sword - an ancient relic.

At first he'd been disappointed. He dug up ten rusty old swords every day - most weren't even worth anything as scrap metal. He'd almost complained before he realised who he was talking to. He'd looked into those vibrant blue eyes, the face as beautiful as it was terrifying, framed by hair like night and skin as smooth as evening and he had withered.

Then however she had given him the sword, purple sparks of sorcerous lightning running over her skin and all his misgivings had faded away.
It was like no sword he'd ever seen - a wicked falchion of dark metal, a single cutthroat edge gleaming evilly. It was from The Sable Tower’s own armouries, the Queen had explained, forged within its dark pits and quenched in blood, taken from the fortress of sorcery when it had been besieged by both the elves and men of Eriador and also it’s once trusted allies of Angmar.The sword had no name, belonging of no one of consequence but Rat had valued it like one of the great swords of legend.

It was cold to the touch and seemed to emanate a kind of malevolence, a dark hatred of all around it. Rat could feel that hatred flow into him as he held the sword, making him stronger and faster and crueller.

Even now as he laid on the crest of a hill on the Anduin's western bank his hand lay upon the pommel of the great cleaver. He could feel it tempting him - it would be so, so easy to rush down there - to surprise those little rangers and slaughter them... So easy.

But no, Rat shook his head free of the delusions. He had a job to do. A task from the Queen. And right now, with all the little Wardens here and the city unprotected to the west is was the perfect time to execute it.

Rat tore his eyes away from the figures underneath the High King’s statue. Spitting towards the towering figure he stood and turned to the west. Over the hillocks the golden spires of Annuminas glimmered in the light of dawn, the reddish-gold stone shining brightly. Rat grinned, his sharp teeth showing - he’d had them filled to points especially.

He descended the hill and safely hidden from the view of the Rangers (Save the single figure perched upon the statue, which he did not spy) Rat joined the bandits who waited for him and as they made their way west the trickle soon became a flood - Tomb-robbers joining them from every bolt-holt and hideout around Lake Evendim. Soon over fifty bandits thronged together and Rat smiled savagely.

From within the folds of his grey rouge’s cloth and leather armour he pulled a small object - a palm mirror of black glass

“I'm gonna send a message to the Queen.” he barked. “It’s time to take the city. Today, we’re not just gonna raid Annuminas - we’re gonna rule it!”

Ercassie
12/Apr/2015, 02:03 PM
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Gwandhyra Harion
Aftermath. Southwest of Fornost
Awkward Recovery


"Seven stars, more so than one, to glitter gladly at our meet" the Ranger answered Nyarane's greeting, indicating he had understood her wording better in the more so common Elvish tongue, in Sindarin.

Quenyan having been reserved in the Mortal's past for reciting great verse of old, in schools of Gondor, or in rare marked reverence that was called for in certain ceremony. It was not a speech he fell to with much frequency, or need these days. Not in the Wild, and certainly not upon his travels since leaving the South.

Silugnir had often told the Man that none besides those born of Aman should ever even make attempt about the Eldar's mother tongue. For only in the melodious acoustics of those throats raised in true Valinor would the fair words sound as they had been intended. But Gwandhyra was of stubborn mind, and reasoned that he would never improve if he did not make practice. Besides, Quenyan was a sure means to identify a fellow Elf friend. Even only in attempt.

"I am named Gwandhyra* in the words of my wife's people," he conversed with the elleth in forthcoming Sindarin speech. "Though I have become known amongst my Ranger kin here as Harion**," he admitted with a straight face bordering on amusement that never quite arrived.

"My cousin, Mirana, who by proxy is called Elforiel***," the Ranger introduced their hallowed guest to the ladies who quietly conversed between themselves now. "And our friend, our sister Ranger, though she heralds from fierce woodland East. This is Ann Kalagon." Gwandhyra inclined his shaggy dark head with the required respect.

"We have scarce little substenance to offer you, I fear, for we were from our most recent lodgings in unforeseen haste." The Man glanced rather self consciously toward the crumbled oaty cram cake as he still held out in his battle-stained hand toward the Elleth. Might be she did not recognise the meagre offering as food ...

"Doubtless you should have met a sweeter fare than this, if you observed this realm more than 900 years ago !" he realised. Ana tossed an apple at his head, which Gwandhyra caught and offered up to the Elleth; a brisk rub with his sleeve to make the green skin shine.

"I saw you in Marthon," he recalled. "You fought there with nary less vigour than you exhibited this day. Yet my acquaintance.... Let us call him Silugnir, though he has been called ... some far less courteous alias, ... did speak of your lesser known 'talents'. I think you must have somehow caused him offense. It is not a difficult achievement for certain, and I should in all rights counsel you to beware of his vengeance, but that you strike me as one who can handle herself."

Gwandhyra realised he might be staring once more. It was a rare confounding, to behold a creature so fair and yet fierce. Only once before had such a strange blend come upon his days. Sadly, he shook the emotion away.

"I am certain our illustrious leaders shall brief you upon their plans at some point. But while you wait for their attention, please do partake," he now located his waterskin but, upon some brief consideration, chose not the water to offer her, but rather some drink considerably stronger ...

Heraasi had been keen upon the most striking of liquors, although Gwandhyra had never seen an Elleth try such charms. "This will warm you, for certain" he bade Nyarane generously.

"You say you became lost though, even with a map to lead you ? Just how old is that map, if I may be so bold as to ask. This country has seen many changes, I wager, since the days of old."



* 'Stained wanderer'
** 'Son of the South'
*** 'Daughter of the North star'

Aranadhel
12/Apr/2015, 08:16 PM
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Nyarane
Halcyon Guard
Maethor

A Brief History with a Ranger


Rane blushed feeling somewhat proud that Gwandhyra had remembered her from the skirmish many moons ago against the werewolves. She at the same time felt embarrassed for not having noticed him but kept quiet about it. She nodded curtly at the introductions to the two Mortal ladies and beckoned Gwandhyra to sit with her as she made herself comfortable on the hard ground floor. She was still feeling fatigued and her empty stomach did not help of course. She politely refused the cram offered but thanked him for the apple and she ravenously finished the fruit in mere minutes and tossed it into the fire. Whilst she was eating however she listened intently to what Gwandhyra was saying, her eyes however turned deadly for a few brief seconds when the Ranger, not knowing the history between her and the elf (Erfaron) before her facial expression turned calm again.

When the Ranger had finished talking he presented her with a waterskin and the elleth took a full swig of it before she handed it back to Gwandhyra and wiped her mouth with the back of her hand. What was that?! She gruntled disapprovingly but not angrily at him. It burned my throat!. She coughed up a bit and had to close her eyes for awhile and let the liquor do its job settle down in her belly. When she opened her eyes again she looked intently at Gwandhyra. The elf that you speak of is well known to me. I am surprised that you are friends with him. Her tone turned icy cold after that. Did he ever tell you that he is a kin slayer? In that moment Rane wished she had the ability to kindle the Light in her eyes like the Eldar that came from Valinor to make her point clear whenever she was displeased. Sadly, being an elf born in Endore gave her not that trait nor does she have a faint glow shimmering from her body like the Valinorean elves. Aye, if you wish to believe his words about me I grudge you not of that. But look, the elf resumed her normal tone and shifted her sitting position as her legs were becoming numb I will talk more about the Mole with you at another time. I shall now answer your other questions. Indeed the map that was given to me it seemed had not been updated since the fall of Arnor. None of my kin it seemed had ventured this far North since 900 years ago. Until today. She shrugged indignantly and smiled sadly at Gwandhyra. I came with the combined elven army of Imladris, Lorien & Mithlond when the Angmarians were here but I never took the opportunity to marvel at what was then called Arthedain. She nodded. We rode in haste and joined with the full might of the Gondorian army and the remnants of Aran Aranarth's people. The land was already besieged and robbed of its beauty and splendour by war 900 years ago but the only difference now is that there are no settlements nor people to be seen anywhere as I journeyed my way from Imladris. The road here seemed desolate, spooky and eerily, deathly quiet. She stopped, taking out a flask of her own and took a swig of it before passing it to Gwandhyra. Try this. She gestured kindly to him. She did not know if the Ranger had tried miruvor before but she felt glad nonetheless with his company but it did not brood well with her that the Mole has tainted her name. Curse the Moles. She said to herself and stretched her legs on the ground waiting for the Ranger to continue with his enquiries.

Ercassie
12/Apr/2015, 09:30 PM
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Gwandhyra Harion
Aftermath. Southwest of Fornost
A Welcome Exchange


The elleth seemed somewhat disinclined to touch of anything she did not recognise, although she braved the challenge of the liqueur, he could not help but note. Her reaction was nigh as though he'd tried to poison her however, and the Ranger startled in concern.

"I meant not to offend your constitution," he offered apology, followed by the flask of water, hoping it might soothe the aggressive assault upon her palate. "That is a Mans drink," he admitted, with an ambiguous blend of pride and also shame. "I only ever knew one Woman who nurtured a taste for it." He took the flask back as Rane nursed the insult she seemed to have taken. "You remind me some of her," Gwandhyra said, as though to explain in part his behaviour. The Ranger gazed at something no one else could see, before he thoughtfully took a most hearty, final swig, and swallowed stiffly. He closed his eyes in memory a time yet before he was willing to return to the present, where Hera was not, and never would be again. Then it was most certain time to stow away the liquor. No more would be wise.

"That elf is well known though few could claim he is well liked," Gwandhyra allowed to Nyarane, of their mutual 'acquaintance'. "I did not bring his mention to our speech though, in order to defend his past deeds. I know full well what he is. I would have you know, that in all honesty, had I not been at his side in Marthon, might be I would have broken words with you sooner."

He hoped to better clarify his position. He meant not to choose either Elf's side over the other, nor had he the number of endless years allotted to his lifespan to waste upon hearing both of the Immortals out upon their quarrel. But Gwandhyra had indeed heard Silugnir's warning about Nyarane and so he felt it only fair to get to know the feisty elleth some, in turn, if she were not opposed. He was a Man who formed his own opinions.

"Ah but I wish that I had seen those days !" he lamented, lost in wonder of the very notion when she resurrected history to life in speech. "A child still, I read of mighty Earnur and of the High King Elendil, his sons .... It is with both joy and wonder that I now traverse the northern stretches of my people. Too late ... Alas. For all is devastated to the point of much despair. I hope that it comes to pass in your lifetime, if not mine," he sighed deep, and accepted the fair Miruvor she meant to educate him with. "The resurgence of our people proper in this realm."

Raising up a toast to Nyarane, he dared confirm their cultural exchange by drinking now the Elleth's offering. The smooth, sweet taste was not unlike a breath of fresh air, and a warming cloak about his body, all at once. Such was the mysterious gift of the Elves.

"I imagine that is what the glorious country of Arnor in its golden age must have tasted like, if it were a cordial, distilled out of the volumes of long past !" he amazed. "Already I feel my limbs lose the touch of battle recent fought."

Handing back her flask afore he was tempted to overindulge, Gwandhyra posed the Elleth another thought-provoking concept.

"You are far from Imladris," he realised. "Tell me, is it fortune fair that we should have you grace us with your lovely and most worthy presence ? For you seem not unlike an angel of war, come down from some hallowed unearthly place to aid us in our hour of great need !"

Aranadhel
13/Apr/2015, 05:36 AM
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Nyarane
Halcyon Guard
Maethor

Charming Dunadan



Nyarane could not help but laugh, her clear high pitched voice echoed resonately through out the makeshift camp. Clearly the Dunedain are not only renowned as fierce brave warriors and gentle in manners but also sweet with their tongue in speech! She held up the waterskin that gladly tasted of real water and toasted with Gwandhyra. We are indeed well met, elvellon (elf friend). Her blue eyes twinkled with mirth, a sign she was warming up to him. Like I said, enough of the silver haired elf. Tell me of this maiden that made you cleave your heart to her that I reminded her so. I am but a just commoner, not a noble and indeed many more ellith who are far more beautiful than me. She said as a matter of fact to him. She shrugged her shoulders if the Man could not believe her words.

If you want to learn about the history of your Numenor ancestors I reckon the best person you could speak with would be my M.. she paused, suddenly realising that she had not spoken to him since the start of the Third Age. My Nolmener she continued. He helped in part to create the Adunaic language with Elros Tar-minyatur when Numenor was founded back in the Second Age. One day I shall introduce him to you. She nodded sadly.

Indeed Middle Earth is now in peril that we Elves have been dispersed left right centre to counter this new Evil. Fear not. There are still many of us who would wish to fight to the end to bring down Sauron before we depart for the Undying Lands. That is my promise to you, Dunadan. My Master vowed to do so and so do I. Angel of war I am not though I am also known as Nahtariel (Daughter of Slayer) by the survivors of Gondolin where I was born and an orphan I am now. Both my parents and twin brother perished, all thanks to the Master of this Silugnir friend of yours.

Indeed the Time of the Elves is diminishing and we feel it in the waters, in the wind, the trees that sings to us and also the land we walk on. The time of Men is upon us as we of the Eldar remember and honour the people of Elros Peredhil we also would like to see that Evil vanquished once and for all and Endore prosper once more under a King who we believe will rise from the line of Isildur, Elendil's son. She balled up her right hand into a fist to show her determination to Gwandhyra. I was there you know at the Black Gates, a spearman in the Eldar Army. Terrible was Sauron to look upon when he came forth but glad we were in the end when Isildur cut off the Ring his hands and victory was ours. Or so we thought. She said these quietly to him and unconsciously twirl her golden locks with both hands. The Dunedain will prosper again in Arnor proper. You will live to see it. She gave him a smile of hope and teased him with a cheeky question. What is this Man's drink anyway? First time I've tried such a concoction in over 7000 years of my life. she added and wrinkled her nose in mock disgust.

sindarelf
16/Apr/2015, 04:31 PM
Dawn Birchdown quietly walked through the forest, thoughts circling her head. She had always,wanted to join the rangers, and this was her chance. In her hometown of Bree, nothing exciting happened. She longed for battles and danger, and the rangers supposedly provided that. The forest seemed to quake around her as she searched and searched for the rangers' headquarters. "Hello?" the sound of Dawn's voice seemed to echo for miles. "Dawn Birchdown of Bree, looking to join the rangers."

Ankala Teaweed
21/Apr/2015, 06:52 AM
Ann Kalagon
Ranger Recruit
Wilderness southwest of Deadman’s Dike

Certain it was that her friend and his kinswoman had noticed her new-found blade for Gwandhyra mentioned it straightaway while offering her some cram.

“Thank you, Sir.” She bit off a corner of the cram and said in reply to Gwandhyra, “I find our company as I expected, truly, disciplined, organized and tight. And thank you also for the cram. Doesn’t it always seem to taste best when one relies on it in the wilderness?”

His cousin he named Mirana now so she knew indeed she had guessed closely on their kinship. Ana told her, “We are your folk now,” and complimented Ann Kalagon’s ability to defend herself. Most kind, thought Ann, as she well knew she was in need of much training to even approach the level set by the Rangers. Ana put out her hand and Ann took it gladly.

“I am very glad to meet you, Ana. Your cousin I first met in my youth from my parents, back in our village near to Mirkwood Forest."

At this point in time, an elleth approached and almost immediately the subject of their conversation reacted. After a bit of a quick exchange in Elvish tongue, it looked to Ann as though the man’s brains had been suddenly and invisibly poleaxed, as his eyes locked up. My, but she had thought he’d be too old to react so obviously. Ana caught her eyes and then shook her head, and spoke with her cousin. Conversation took an embarrassing turn. Ana rolled her eyes and asked about the new-found sword.

She then asked if it ever glowed as though a heated brand!

“Well not that I know of, is there such a thing? It does look to be a very old blade. I hope I can ask one of the Dunedain to have a look at the inscription and marking. It is curious and I would like to know what meaning it has, if any?”

But before further response might have come, Gwandhyra seemed to have regained awareness of his surrounding company and decided to introduce them both to the Elf. The Elf's name he did not mention to them. Maybe his cousin knew the Elvish too, and did not need the translation. He offered this elleth some cram then, and Mirana tossed an apple at his head to make a better offering of a snack to her. The elleth nodded quite briefly to them, yet immediately began to carry on more conversation with Gwandhyra, seemingly mostly in Elvish. A flask appeared and they drank.

Meanwhile Ann shook her head and arched her eyebrow to Mirana. “So, yes. I took the sword off one of the dead thieves back there. I was not actually looking to find a sword but then I just happened to see what little light there was catch the metal. It was shiny. Like a raven I guess I picked it up because it was shiny. She laughed at herself, and said, “But it does seem old. I hope I might find out something about it. What do you think of it? It is a little shorter than those I see most of the company carrying.”

Greyfang
03/May/2015, 02:40 PM
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Taerion "Greyfang" Araelen (Dawnstar, Sindarin)
Ranger Veteran
The Wilderness of the North Downs
A day's hard ride from High King's Crossing.


Taerion raised an eyebrow at Gwandhyra as the Gondorian called the liquor in his flask a man's drink.
"You obviously never met my wife..." the aged Ranger spoke as he walked past the small group. Taerion was one of the few mortals to ever catch the heart of an elf, a prostidious feat but one that was not to be paraded around - to all but Captain Khalador, the Chieftain and one or two select rangers, Taerion’s partner was simply a wandering lore-master and archaeologist.

Not that it was hard of course. Rangers of all people are used to keeping secrets but for Taerion it was less of an annoyance but rather an inconvenience - when people did learn of Sorowhawk’s elven nature it always seemed a mater of contreversy and in truth the simple life had been all Taerion had ever wanted.

“Rangers. How do you fare?” he asked, assessing the troops in front of him. They were battered certainly, bruised, but nothing time and a few well placed bandages couldn’t fix. He didn’t exactly call to the group to attention (For surely if any Ranger tried to command the others with the same commands as a Gondorian knight there would be an uprising), but Taerion did make sure he had the eyes of the Rangers old and new.

Walking the last pace or two over to the group he swept his eyes around at them, the cousins, the greenhorns, the elf and many others. Rangers and Elves camping together, it was a sight too rare these days.
"I hope you don't mind," he said gruffly to the group, kicking over a log and taking a seat on it.

"You, pointy - good work out there." He rumbled and the elleth who sat with the group. "Good to meet you, properly that is." Taerion offered a grimy, gore-stained hand to Nyaranë.
"I probably met you in Rivendell at some point or another, but you know, you've got a pretty face and pretty faces are hard to remember." The Ranger muttered, almost to himself as absentmindedly pulled at the armour around his left shoulder.

He watched at the elf and Harion (Gwandhyra) seemed rather consumed in there conversation and rolling his eyes Taerion muttered gently himself and dug within his pack.

“Take these - liniment and bandages. Go well with the alcohol.” he spoke to the group at large, taking a number of small blue jars of oily, sweet-smelling paste and rolls of bandages from his pack and handing the items around. “If you’ve got any scrapes or bruises apply a little of salve and if you have cuts let me know and we’ll look after them."

Speaking of which... Taerion pulled at pauldron (shoulder guard) and finally settled in his place enough to inspect the wound.
Unbuckling the pauldron and the chainmail on his shoulder he sighed with relief while simultaneously wincing in pain. Pulling down the sleeve of his cotton and leather gambeson to reveal the injury below. He was lucky, the crossbow bolt that had scored that armour had not hit him squarely on, rather glancing off. Thus his shoulder wasn’t broken or shattered as he had feared. There was however a very nice bruise forming in a tempest of angry purples and malicious reds under the skin of his shoulder, Taerion noticed as he half-listened to the Rangers’ conversation as he took a little of the liniment and rubbed it into his broken skin. The relief was instant and the old ranger sighed gently, wrapping a bandage around the wound, keeping it bound to restrain the amount of internal bleeding from the blood vessels beneath the skin.

That done the old ranger sighed and leaned back with a relieved smile. He indulged himself in a moment of rest, fighting against going to talk to the captain and just falling asleep right there and then.
He did of course do neither, instead snapping his eyes open.

He once more reached around to his back and from memory alone undid the straps and buckles that held Revenant in place, strapped to his spine. Taking the large sword from his back, sheathe and all, Taerion opened a pouch at his side and removed three whetstones and a thick cloth, making to sharpen and polish the claymore.

Before he began however he pulled a pipe and a little shire-leaf from beneath his armour and leant back with a contented smile as he lit it with a flint and tinderbox.

Nearby Mirana and Ann were discussing Ann's newfound sword and Taerion watched with interest as the two exchanged words over the subject, suppressing a gentle chuckle as Ana asked if the reclaimed sword glowed like a heated brand. Taerion chewed on the end of his pipe thoughtfully, sucking in a large breath before releasing a series of three smoke rings, sending a third shooting through their middle like an arrow through apples.

“A reclaimed blade?” he mused as Ann considered the blade’s age and properties. “A shiny thing indeed Ms Kalgon. Ravens make good companions you know, great scouts, and even better hunters.” he chewed on the pipe once again, his voice somewhat muffled due to it.
“I’m no mastersmith, but certainly I’ve been around a few blades of the elder ages, even Revenant here.” he spoke, patting the golden-sheened claymore that lay in it’s casing next to him. “Both Revenant and your blade here could do with a good clean and a sharpen. It’s the blood - the eternal irony of a sword, they’re designed to spill blood but nothing corrodes ‘em worse.” Taerion chuckled, taking a small bit of steel wool and a rough cloth from his pack as Ann handed him the sword.

It was a straight sword, with a simple crossguard of beautiful blue-tinged steel that seemed to shimmer in the light. The pommel was small and the jewels that once lined it had long been pulled from their casings. Intricate paterns that once lined the hilt and pommel were worn into oblivion but still the blade held a kind of simple beauty.

“But let’s see what we have here. It’s certainly old, you’re not wrong about that and distinctly early-late Numenorian style. You can tell from the cruciform crossguard and the cutout design in the pommel...” he murmured.

He worked the steel over the blade, scouring it gently to remove the grit, grime and rust. Slowly an inscription began to take shape on the side of the blade.
Taerion gently ran his fingers along the metal grooves of the cirith, translating it as he pieced the inscription together.
“Vardalimë am I, that’s ah defender of brightness I think - my quenya’s pretty rusty...” he continued reading the inscription. “I am the defence of the Princess Shepherdess.” Taerion looked up at wonder at Ann.
“You have a Raven’s eye indeed! This was once the blade of Emerwen Aranel, otherwise known as Tar-Ancalimë, seventh ruler of Numenor and first Queen of Westernesse. She of course inherited Narsil, the blade of kings upon her ascension so this must be the word she held in her youth. Valar only knows how it survived the fall and came to be in Fornost in the hands of such vagabonds...”
Taerion took great care as he cleaned the rest of the rust off the blade. It was beautiful – plain and simple certainly but with a gentle elegance that expressed wealth without being flashy and glamorous.

“It’s very well balanced, even in it’s age. That it was made for the queen when she was only a lass and it’s survived all these ages… It’s remarkable.” said Taerion to Ann as he hefted the sword, now looking a little more suitable for battle with the blade shining in the firelight, only a few spots of rust left showing.

“There are runes here… too small for me to make out but the blade feels as if it hold some sort of enchantment, though you’re best asking the Captain or the elf about that. I doubt If you look after it, it’ll look after you.” Spoke Taerion gently, “You’ll need a sheathe made for it and a weaponsmith to grind out the deeper parts of the rust. For now, keep it sharp and keep it clean." He rumbled.

He handed Ann back the sword as well as a whetstone from his pack as he began to run his own down Revenant's blade, cleaning off the dried blood also.

Taerion's eye flicked to Ana who glared suspiciously at Revenant as if expecting the blade to burst into flame at any moment.
"Are you wondering about Revenant here? It's an ancient blade, but just how old I can't tell you. I found it in the old catacombs under Evendim Lake when I was barely come of age. That's certainly a tale there, but for another time. Save to say I saved the blade and it saved me." The old ranger took a puff of his pipe, chewing on the end of his pipe thoughtfully. "It brought it home and fixed it up, or maybe it fixed me up." He raised a shaggy grey eyebrow.

"You're wondering if its a trick!" he growled, pointing a finger accusingly at Ana, a smile hidden underneath his salt and pepper beard.

"I'll tell you now. Its not. Here have a look!" Taerion spun the blade towards the brown-haired ranger, still in its sheath so that the star-topas in the pommel glittered invitingly towards Mirana.

“It’s for show, not purpose. The blade cuts just as well heated as not. It was made for the King’s bodyguard with the help of the elves. That’s all I know.” Taerion looked askance at Mirana, wondering how the northwoman would react.

Greyfang
04/May/2015, 02:32 PM
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Carachnir Araelen (Dawnstar, Sindarin)
Retired Ranger
The Hidden City of Osdolen and Surrounds.


It wasn't often that Carachnir went out on patrol, but here he was making his way through the forests of the North Downs. The numbers of the rangers of the north dwindled every year - there weren’t even enough to fill Osdolen, and that was hardly a large city. So every ranger needed to pull their weight, retired or not. Besides, there was no such thing as a ‘retired ranger’ - everyone helped how they could, even the elderly - being unable to lift a sword didn’t mean you couldn’t help somewhere else.

Carachnir has long ago put down his gigantic battleaxe and although he couldn’t wield it as fast as he once was able to the slim rapier at his waist served him well. Now, nearing his 92nd birthday Carachnir had become caretaker of many things around the hidden city, caring for what he could to spare haler folk for more important roles but from time to time he himself ventured out of the city. It was a good life, fulfilling and peaceful. Interspersed with visits to his nieces in Bree and Rivendell, well it was a good life.

His mind wandered as he walked through the verdant forest - it was the ides of march and the forest was alive with birdsong and the wind’s mellow tones as it whipped through the branches. There was another noise however, a cry on the wind.

“Hello? Dawn Birchdown, looking to join the rangers.”

Carachnir stopped and listened. he knew that name - yes he did. With a smile he made his way towards the voice, emerging from behind a large oak tree to greet the young girl, sweeping his mottled grey and green cloak aside as he walked towards her.

“Good Morning young lass. You’ll be Dawn then hey-oh?” he questioned, rubbing his lightening grey beard, which although a little scruffy was still presentable.
“I’m Carachnir, Ranger of the North, at yon service.” the old man cracked a smile. “I know you probably expected someone a little less.. aged but they’ll be plenty of folk your age when we reach the city.” he spoke with a northern accent, saying city like see-teh and rolling his rs.

“We’ve heard about you from the rangers in Bree - the rangers have been expecting you to seek us out for a while now. Your Captain of the Watch, Miles Brackenbrook has a good head on his shoulder - tells us whenever a young adventurer like yourself starts a-wandering and a-wishing about us Rangers of the North.”

Carachnir smiled, a gentle warm grin that spread over his lined face. “Ya did well lass, got close to the gates ‘ut the hidden city of Osdolen is ancient, built by the original men who came to Middle Earth in the first age and since that time only a handful of free folk have ever found it unguided, let alone servants of the enemy. Here - this way.”

Together the two walked through the leaf-strewn paths that seemed to close up once they passed through them as Carachnir gently talked to Dawn until they arrived at a seemingly impassible rockface.
Without hesitation however Carachnir made his way through a small split in the rock, invisible except from the right angle which opened up onto a roughly hewn pathway and a natural earthen and stone stairwell that rose through a cleft in the mountains to reach a high and hidden ledge upon which sat the gates of Osdolen.
They were high and mighty, made of giant chunks of hard grey stone, set into the outer stone wall that guarded the hidden city. Osdolen itself was set in a hidden valley high in the mountains of the North Downs, secreted among the rising peaks.

“Valvegil, Ostover, Mallamir, Eärno!” Carachnir cried out to the Rangers on watch. “New recruit - Dawn Birchdown!” A moment passed and then the great gates opened and a couple of cloaked and cowled rangers greeted them inside before moving away to man the wall once more.
After the wall the land sloped down into a natural valley where the ancient city of Osdolen lay spread out, filled with old streets and buildings, great rising spires and small houses cobbled together out of the rubble of others - frankenstein buildings. It was sprawling but only a tiny section was actually lived in and as they walked down through Carachnir pointed out places to Dawn.

“That there’s the Library, one of the most comprehensive guides to both sides of the Misty Mountains” he said pointing at a great grey stone and white marble dome that rose from the centre of the city, surrounded by a small cluster of oak trees. “And that’s the stables there and the kennels, the smithy and the baker’s hut.”
He pointed up a dusty trail leading to a mountain behind the city. “High up there, if you follow that trail is Sad Ainos, the chapel and right here where we’re going is the Four Wind’s Tavern, the meeting place of all the Rangers.” he laughed and motioned to a large building that commanded the central courtyard of the city as they walked towards it.

“We’ll go there now so you can learn a bit about the rangers and swear your oath of allegiance if you still want to join. It’s an ancient city this, used to be called Tsiyon Eremia meaning the fortress of solitude in the language of the Edain, the first men," the old man murmured thoughtfully.
"Regardless, it got forgotten until it was rediscovered and refounded by Elendil the Tall in the year 3325 of the second age. He called it Osdolen to mean Hidden City and even now after the fall of Elendil’s nation of Arnor the city still perseveres and us with it.” the old ranger paused, lost in thought.

“Well, lets get you a drink and inducted!” he said as they turned up at the Four Winds and Carachnir pushed open the door, motioning for Dawn to follow him in.

Ercassie
09/May/2015, 01:53 PM
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Mirana (Ana) and Gwandhyra
Taking Pause. Southwest of Fornost
The Past made Present



As fair and foul as any living contradiction, the Ranger supposed, bearing startled witness as the merciless killer before him smiled again, glorious as the sun to behold. The daystar itself of course was a thing marvellous to gaze upon until a man might find himself burned if he ever got too close.

Nahtariel she named herself, and Gwandhyra smiled at the sweet sound of the Elvish word. Fortunate sat he to recognise the peril in the soft exotic meaning. She called him elf friend and he smiled but dared not shift over swift in his seat, lest she rise to instinct and cut off his head for startling her so.

"A tongue is like a sword, I think," he divulged of his pensive mind. "It may be laced with eloquence, yet it may also sting in wrath. As memory also is wont to do."

Memory was prevalent about his thought he did not even hear the amused remark of his fellow rangers upon observing their speech. So light of skin was Nyarane, that her hair shone like dawn over the clear blue sea of her eyes. Heraasi had worn skin so dark she must have garbed her organs in the hide of the warm earth. The woman's eyes had blazed as black as midnight, and her life cut so short as the Elleth's had indeed proved long .... Yet there it was. The same smile, the same confidence. The same spirit. If he had not heard the elleth speak of Gondolin, Gwandhyra might have entertained the notion that before him stood his first love's true reincarnation.

"The drink they call 'mien' in places East of here. It means 'courage'. And for certain some courage is required to taste of it knowingly. On long patrols in far Ithilien we knew it as 'Nenar', the fire water. The dwarves have names for it that are not to be repeated," the Ranger teased, though truthful in his account. "I fear though it should take something a smite more potent to move my lips on the subject of past romance for any great length of time. I must as soon ask for detail of all your endless escorts. For certain you must have had your pick !" he shook his head in due amazement of her modesty.

"Know only then that She whom I knew was common-born, the same as you or I, and rose to greatness not through means of noble blood, lest it was the blood of those foul nobles she slew in the name of justice. Be proud of where you come from, as we say," he concluded, the mortal phrase transcended back to the common speech.

He was surprised though said not so, as he gave Nyarane chance to digest his words. For the Elleth had spoke of taking ships and of a past in Gondolin.

"In truth, I had mistaken you for one of the ferocious Silvan," he confessed, "such as I saw often in King Thranduil's realm of the East."

The Gondorian made move to check on Ann Kalagon as their mutual abode under bough entered the conversation. The new Ranger seemed contentedly engaged with Mirana he noted, approvingly. For certain a friendship to grow a tween the two women would benefit them both.

The Elleth Nyarane seemed awkward in the company of other females, he could not help but notice, though he knew too little of her as to judge.

Already her age had surprised him. 7000 years old ?! And yet her reference to Gondolin explained full well the enmity between her and Silugnir. Gwandhyra chose to heed the maiden's own advice and refrain upon remarking of this aloud. It was a difficulty to engage her, for her reference to Ondolinde seemed to incite regret and sorrow, understandably. Her mention of this Nolmenor though also seemed encumbered by emotion. She evidently missed her mentor terribly.

But there, what could he know of but to guess only ? Already he stood corrected in his first assumption. He had noticed her in battle to be sure, but there had been no light of fire in her eyes, even when drenched in the heat of conflict. She must be Moriquendi thus, whatever else.

"You and your Nolmenor would be welcome around any fire, I guess," he trod careful but reverent of what she had disclosed thus far, "with such stories to share. All that you have seen ... "

He frowned, unwise to say much of what he personally had seen.

"My blade is better travelled than myself," he compromised at length. "It has known both of Numenor and also the Last Alliance of Elves and Men. It has known as present all I know as past. The last it ventured about Arnor, it followed King Earnur to Fornost ere returning to my folk and holding evil out of fair Ithilien as long as we were able.

Every couple of centuries or so it holds reunion with its twin," he nodded toward the like blade Mirana clung to, "for the pair were a set forged for our ancestors by Dwarves, in the first age of the sun.

The 'deathdancers' were our people named then, for both the brother and the sister were great warriors, long afore they went with their Lord Beor to smite at Morgoth in despoiled Beleriand. Their very name seared terror in the heart of fell things through the ages, though it is a legend now, since at least 700 years ago."

He half laughed, as he realised that, "Doubtless you have fought in battles alongside my forefathers, some frequently, through the long years of the world, though you knew it not. It is an honour to now take my turn."





****************




Mirana pulled hair out of her face as a breeze saw several Rangers righting their upturned belongings, and striving to cater to their hurts. She smiled at Ann Kalagon, though was not blind to the glances about her cousin's conversation with the elf. "You have heard words of elvish design before now ?" she asked of the Woodswoman, curiously, for the other's expression suggested not.

"The Sinda tongue they use," she nodded toward the cross-cultural exchange, "it is slightly altered from the silvan speech of Mirkwood, I imagine. You may have heard Khallador and Taerion use the foreign commands, not some hours now past. Few brigands can comprehend the orders which our captains speak this way," she explained. "Most Rangers come to know the urgent terms. If you claim to be novice with the blade you must be a swift learner. You will pick the language up quite fast, of that I am sure. Until then feel free to stay close and do as we do," Ana did her best to assure the new recruit.

"I have known my cousin only a short time and he speaks little of his past. You must tell me of Mirkwood a time. I imagine it is much varied, more trees than we have here. Less hills, .... Less ruins," she sighed.

"Most of the men favour great long swords," Ana confided to the other Woman, when the size of her new blade was remarked upon. "No doubt it makes them feel they are great," she smiled, amused. "Although history suggests that short swords are the true tradition of our people," she interpreted her understanding of old lore. "I imagine that back then, when affiliations were so often swiftly altered, Men chose shorter, one handed weapons so that they could bear also a shield with the sigil of their house or allegiance for all to see." she shrugged.

"Even this one is a heft for me though, I confess,". Ana took example of the more experienced Rangers, and readied her Dwarvish sword for cleaning.

The weapon was identical to that which Gwandhyra raised before Nyarane. The ancient Dwarvish runes that chased the length of the fierce, steel blade spelt out 'Riot', on the Woman's version, where the title 'Reaper' was clearly etched along the Man's. Geometric design leant a labyrinth of intrigue to the flattened pommel, weighted so to counterbalance it's quite decent length. The hilt was leather wrapped, a ring-lined terrain to aid grasp of hand, even when blood-drenched, and double grooves ran as twin fullers through the entire solid wand of biting tongue, to save it proving too heavy to lift.

"This sword was my fathers and his fathers before him," Ana spoke with both pride and regret that she bore her parent's right of passage. "Though at the first she was conceived as tool for woman's hand. 'Riot' she is named, to match my cousin's which is titled 'Reaper'. The old verse tells that the names were given as much to their original bearers as to the weapons themselves.

She comes of a time when each day knew a battle to reach night with breath still in their bearer's lungs. As such she is not forged as light or elegant a weapon as are many, later-made, or Elvish works. It was born of a time before elegance. A brutal age, Riot was bred for war.

My father has small use for her now," the Ranger admitted, meeker so, "so that she is made mine. But I have awarded more a time about the use of the crossbow. So this blade and I ... We are still coming to know one another. I revere her story and hope to not shame such an inheritance."

"In the first age," Gwandhyra took up where his cousin had faltered to more private thoughts, "an elf of King Fingolfin's service enticed one of our two ancient siblings to the service of the high king of the Eldar. Thus our family was torn. The sister lingering in Ladros while the brother mingled with the third house of his folk, and settled in Dor Lomin.

The dual blades have somehow ever gravitated together when our deep sundered bloodline is required to fight side by side. When greatest threat presents ..." The Ranger took pause there, and wondered at the timing for his recent emigration into former Arnor. Ana met his troubled brow with hers in kind and found the Man's hand offered. Which she took, although it felt conjured and strange to do so.

"Actually, I believe the self same Elf who took apart their partnership at the first, has proven instrumental in ever reuniting their descendants," she observed, to ward off any notions of it being any more than Erfaron's perceived duty. Fate, destiny and magical coincidence were not in Mirana's vocabulary.

She poked at her cousin to reveal the bracers of his to-this-day allegiance. The sigil of Nimredel. But Gwandhyra clapped eyes with guarded concern upon Nyarane and concealed his wrists swiftly. Knowing not to reveal his friend's secret, a soft underbelly, to the she-wolf who despised him.

The awkward meeting of their eyes, grey against brown, fell separate at length as Taerion sat suddenly amongst them.





*****************





The veteran took to immediately tending battle wounds, and the small company seemed fallen to awe, at the majesty of an aged but clearly yet able member about their small circle. Greyfang swiftly lured Ann Kalagon toward a better understanding of her new acquired blade. And Ana listened, marvelling about her friend's astounding find, although she was yet fixated about Greyfang's strange sword, 'Revenent'.

"I have never seen its like," she admitted, when pressed. "For certain it proves a dread distraction during the heat of battle. I thought at the first you had brought a hot poker to the fight," she blushed, embarrassed. "But it was of such a size to prove that theory folly.

'Riot' does not glow," she admitted, though not ashamed, patting her own tool with affection, "and ever has been but a tool of us loyal, low-born servants, far removed of they far greater folk. She still slaughters fell things," the Woman observed, plainly, "Without having to resort to tricks.

If I ever come to handle my ancestors sword with the seeming ease and grace you accomplish of your weapon, I might hold as much attention in battle as if my humble blade were lit up like a flame the same." The Woman ducked her head respectful of the grizzled lore master.

"You are named The Greyfang, if I am not mistaken," Gwandhyra caught the veteran's wily eye, intrigued.

"His name is Taerion Araelen," Ana corrected her kinsman. "A sage, and seeker of lost truths about our folk," she allowed, explaining. "A man so brave as he is else considered wise. A man not cowed apparently to first accept and then brandish a weapon he himself admits to not properly understand," the Woman proceeded, disregarding her own caution. She recoiled from the unique sword that her Elder presented. Gwandhyra whistled at his cousin's dare to speak so. " I should have left that blade where it was found, were I you, or at the least buried or destroyed it, in the very hour as it's inconsistency to normal was revealed. Ever have we Mortals been entranced by the deception of 'powers' supposedly offered us. Ever has accepting a supposed strength or vantage we were not meant to obtain led in the end to loss, to horror and to the ruin of all. You are a braver man than I, Taerion Greyfang. As brave as the Nine, or as Ar-Pharazon. I shall pray it is not a trick of the Enemy to lure you toward foul end, for your sake. For all our sakes. A braver man than I indeed ....."

Ana rose there, having cleared her thought, and fled from the mere vicinity of Taerion's odd sword.

"You are not a Man at all, cousin," Gwandhyra called after her, seeking to lighten the mood.

"Thanks be to that !" she returned, from her distance, her small voice still matter-of-fact. "It is good that you bear the sword of a queen, Ann," Ana smiled faintly upon this last word toward her friend. "I never yet have heard history tell of a Woman who invited her own destruction and that of all she once understood, in seeking to safeguard it from the very evil that she then became."

Aranadhel
11/May/2015, 06:51 PM
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Nyarane
Halcyon Guard
Maethor

History Time - With the Company of the Dunedain Rangers


Rane listened while she wrapped her arms around her long slender bended knees and nodded every now and then at Gwandhyra's explanation about the Mortal draughts. She couldn't help but notice how he pierced her soul at times with his eyes, no doubt it had to do with the beau of his life. She curled up her lips when he mistook her for a Silvan elf. Let it be known elvellon, that a full blooded Noldo elf would have been less courteous to you if you mistook them for a Moriquendi like me. You will find only the golden haired elves amongst the Noldor and Sindar kindred. Different they are from the High Elves from across the Sea. Less wise and more dangerous. Unfriendly even. She winked at him, a twinkle with a semblance of warning made clear. You are more likely to meet more elves in Mithlond & Imladris who are of mix parentage like myself. She added. My amme was an Exile from Aman while my atto was a Sinda. Alas they and my twin brother have not walked in Arda since the late years of the First Age. Her voice was barely a whisper at this point and she looked at him with sorrow and a tired look on her face. Sometimes I do wonder at what madness and devilry wrought by the people of my amme that they brought upon Arda from the Elder days. Has it been worth all the lives sacrificed and time spent trying to bring down the Enemy after Three Ages? She was interrupted by the arrival of another Ranger veteran (Taerion) by his looks as he commended her on her battle prowess and she gave a slight nod and hailed him. Suilaid, mellon. She gave a slight smile and commented back. Don't you mean to say pretty faces are hard to forget? As he did not state his name she likewise did the same.

Rane then turned her head back at Gwandhyra as he now spoke thus of the tale of his beloved blade. May I have a look at your sword? She asked him, her curiosity piqued when he mentioned it had known service in Numenor, The Last Alliance & the Battle of Fornost. He added by telling her that this still well preserved sword, was crafted by the Naugrim and had passed down the generations of his forefathers from back in the First Age. Rane took another swig of water to quench her thirst and paused to think. If indeed you could trace your lineage back to the line of Westernesse then yes I could have known your greatfather of old. I have never ventured to Numenor she shrugged. So tell me, she clapped her hands on her hips to ward off the drowsiness that was overtaking her. What news from Gondor? Tis long since I gazed upon the white walls of Minas Tirith. Pleasant place that is to be honest with a nice view from the top of the Citadel but too near to Mordor for my liking she said unapologetically as she was reminded of her memories during the Last Alliance, marching towards Barad-dur and having made camp for seven long years in the dusty, desolate, hot, foul aired land that reeked of death.

sindarelf
15/May/2015, 05:04 AM
​Dawn quietly waited, listening to the noises of the forest, not expecting anything to happen. "Good morning young lass. You'd be Dawn then hey-oh?" "Ahhhhhhhh!" Dawn jolted awake, surprised by the noise. "Yes, I'm Dawn." She nervously mumbled while pacing slowly. "“I’m Carachnir, Ranger of the North, at yon service.” The man said. "Um, greetings, Carachnir" Dawn rubbed her foot against the ground like a restless horse.We’ve heard about you from the rangers in Bree - the rangers have been expecting you to seek us out for a while now. Your Captain of the Watch, Miles Brackenbrook has a good head on his shoulder - tells us whenever a young adventurer like yourself starts a-wandering and a-wishing about us Rangers of the North.” Dawn wasn't sure how to reply. "Good, good." She attempted.“Ya did well lass, got close to the gates ‘ut the hidden city of Osdolen is ancient, built by the original men who came to Middle Earth in the first age and since that time only a handful of free folk have ever found it unguided, let alone servants of the enemy. Here - this way" Dawn shuffled her feet along, not because of boredom, but wonder, as she followed him. "Valvegil, Ostover, Mallamir, Eärno!" Carachnir cried out.“New recruit - Dawn Birchdown!" Dawn nodded at the hooded rangers, then sprinted to catch up with Carachnir. “That there’s the Library, one of the most comprehensive guides to both sides of the Misty Mountains” Dawn watched as Carachnir pointed to a grey and white dome that made her mouth water. "A library? I love to read, that's amazing!" Dawn was understating her love of books. “And that’s the stables there and the kennels, the smithy and the baker’s hut." Dawn followed his eyes to the locations. “High up there, if you follow that trail is Sad Ainos, the chapel and right here where we’re going is the Four Wind’s Tavern, the meeting place of all the Rangers.” Carachnir said.We’ll go there now so you can learn a bit about the rangers and swear your oath of allegiance if you still want to join. It’s an ancient city this, used to be called Tsiyon Eremia meaning the fortress of solitude in the language of the Edain, the first men," Dawn silently praised herself for coming here. She loved history.Regardless, it got forgotten until it was rediscovered and refounded by Elendil the Tall in the year 3325 of the second age. He called it Osdolen to mean Hidden City and even now after the fall of Elendil’s nation of Arnor the city still perseveres and us with it.” "Fascinating." Dawn said.
She could see the sign to the tavern and her heart was beating wildly.Well, lets get you a drink and inducted!”

Rainelle Hérandil
20/May/2015, 06:00 PM
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Gwendolyn Elders
Southwest of Fornost




Gwen wondered why they were going to Annuminas, but Khall said he would explain later, so she didn't pester him with a lot of questions now.
"My horse is there, grazing among those bushes." She pointed it out to Khall before they had passed the horse up. She switched to her own horse and then rode close behind Khallador as he led the way to Annuminas. She patted the horse on the neck as she rode, telling him they would be resting soon and that she was sorry for making him work so hard, but he was doing a good job.

Finally, they stopped to rest and Gwen slid down from her horse. She waited for Khallador to finish speaking to the other people, so that she could tell him her news. When he at last turned to Gwen, asking why she was in Fornost.
"I came there looking for you, actually." She explained. Then she told how she had been searching for relics in Lond Daer, and had come seen the Coven of Rhuduar that she had seen killing everyone, and why she had come looking for them. "I wanted to warn you, and I.. I thought you ought to know; none of the rangers who were fighting them survived." She said quietly. "The witches didn't see me, or I wouldn't be here to warn you, as they would have killed me too."

Ankala Teaweed
22/May/2015, 06:42 PM
Ann Kalagon
Ranger Recruit
Wilderness southwest of Deadman’s Dike


Ana inquired whether she had had chance to hear any Elvish spoken.
One time I do recall hearing an elf speak in one of their tongues. This was at a feast occasion in Mirkwood. And it were a rare occasion they’d held one near the Forest edge and open to men from the villages. But I don’t believe I learned aught from the evening. I know only the greeting “Mae Govannen”.
Indeed I’ll stick close! And strive to learn the urgent commands. Thank you, Mirana.

I will tell you of Mirkwood, what part of the Greenwood which I know, and such of what I learned in the journey here over the mountains and sharp foothills and broken lands and low between those woods and Eriador. And as she was then suddenly full of memories of crossing the mountains guided by her cousins, and on westward through lands entirely unknown to her searching each evening for a well-hidden spot to camp.

Ana showed her then her great Dwarvish blade, while speaking to her comments of having found the old sword in the ruins during the fight with the ruffians. Ann looked on Mirana’s heirloom sword with great interest and appreciation of its make. As Mirana told the story of Riot, her cousin chimed in to continue the history of his own named Reaper and of the history of their family tied to King Fingolfin in ancient times. A moment passed between those cousins as Taerion kicked over a log to sit among them. Ann now recalled with some surprise she had thought at the time during the fight the veteran Ranger might have taken some wounding blow. The Greyfang pulled somewhat from his pack and passed around small blue glass jars of a liniment for surface wounds as well as some bandage materials.

Ann spread some of the light salve over scrapes she had taken on arms and hands. It soothed the raked areas of skin and smelled sweet like some herbal flowers. Taerion’s wounds looked to not be open fortunately, though no doubt he had bruises. She herself carried yet a small amount of her mother’s bees’ honeycomb wrapped in oilcloth. It was good to eat but it was very good on open wounds to stop infection, and she would have offered some to him if needed. It would be interesting to learn what was in this liniment and how to make it. As Ann and Mirana spoke, the veteran had begun to smoke and to speak with them both now about their respective swords.

He took some steel wool to her newfound old sword and examined it closely while explaining to her the blade’s design. Taerion’s words and the manner of care he took to go over what was truly a very old sword riveted her. What did he say? Early-late Numenorean? What did that mean? A thousand, may be two thousand years?

Taerion translated, "Vardalimë am I, that’s ah defender of brightness I think - my quenya’s pretty rusty . . .” he continued reading the inscription. “I am the defence of the Princess Shepherdess. You have a Raven’s eye indeed! This was once the blade of Emerwen Aranel, otherwise known as Tar-Ancalimë, seventh ruler of Numenor and first Queen of Westernesse.

Ann had thought the sheen of the metal and its etchings looked of old origins but she had had no idea of just how very very old! This sword she had taken, justly it seemed even moreso, from the thieves had been made in ancient times for a famous queen of the Numenoreans, Tar-Ancalimë! To think it had fallen into the hands of such as those men! As Taerion cleaned the blade, he told her he was seeing runes in the metal, too small for his eyes. He noted, the blade feels as if it holds some sort of enchantment, though you're best asking the Captain or the elf about that. He then said that if she looked after it, it'll look after you, to effect that Ann's eyes opened even more widely and he handed it back to her with the steel wool and a whetstone from his pack.

“Vardalimë, Defender of Brightness! Happy day I found you and brought you back to the light, Vardalimë,” She said as she took it back from Taerion with the steel wool and the whetstone and began to carefully work the blade’s edge with the stone. The worn decorative settings for the jewels she once bore were still lovely work, resembling roses. She looked at the make all the more closely after hearing his description of it: the cruciform crossguard and the cutout design in the pommel.

Thank you, Taerion. Sir! I do not have words to express how amazed I am to hear the history of this sword. I will do exactly as you say. It is a strange honor to have found such a treasure. I am overwhelmed, Sir. As for a sheath, all she could do would be to wrap it in something, perhaps the large piece of deerskin she had in her bag, and tie it thus with twine or aught to her saddle, until she could get a proper sheath.

As he next spoke with Mirana about his sword Revenant, she saw her friend had a rather intent look in her eyes toward his ancient blade.

They listened further to the tale of the Riot and the Reaper held by generations of Gwandhyra and Mirana’s family. She guessed the Dwarven forging would have some especial powers of strength in the metal and weight. Her parents would be happy to learn she had made friends with two of their friend Gwandhyra’s women kinfolk—his daughter Dessy and cousin Mirana.

Mirana, do you read the runes yourself? Or the cirith?

Greyfang
25/Jul/2015, 01:39 AM
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Taerion "Greyfang" Araelen (Dawnstar, Sindarin)
Ranger Veteran
The Wilderness of the North Downs
A day's hard ride from High King's Crossing.

Taerion wrapped himself tightly within the densely woven wool of his travelling cloak as a chill breeze swept through the camp. ‘The northern breeze bites deepest’ he murmured to himself, reflecting on one of the many sayings once muttered by his mother. He took a long puff of his pipe, savouring the sweet galenas pipeweed. It was a common habit to smoke among the rangers, for a number of reasons from happiness to the supposed health benefits of the little leaf.

The old man’s eyes brightened as the young rangers around him leapt to adamant conversation like the merry flames of the fire they surrounded. He gingerly rubbed the herbal liniment into his bruises, especially the wound under is collarbone where the crossbow bolt had struck. The liniment smelled sweet, like fresh crushed herbs and orange-blossoms. It warmed the skin, though where Taerion’s flesh was bruised and broken it burnt like fire itself. The old man gritted his teach, watching as the swelling around his wounds sunk and the redness decreased a little, paving the way for some impressive bruises.

Pulling up the cloth of his undershirt over the slight wounds that covered his torso, Taerion undid his plain metal bracers to apply the liniment to the cuts and bruises beneath Taerion surveyed the group around him.
They were quite the bunch, spirited, resilient and hardy. Taerion smiled. They were hope, all of them, the eldest of the old in Nyarane, the young in such as Ann but all driven by common purpose and goal.

He was shaken from his thoughts by Mirana’s response to his words on Revenant. She spoke of her thoughts of the claymore as a hot poker upon first sight and her own sword Riot’s service as a slayer of evil without trickery such as the flames that would like at Revenant during battle.
Taerion nodded, noting the wisdom of Ana’s words. Her cousin asked of his moniker, "You are named The Greyfang, are you not?”

Taerion nodded, “Aye, for this,” he said, holding up the silver-capped fang that hung upon a chain at his neck. It was long and curved, a little longer than Taerion’s palm and although it was indeed grey and opaque, it seemed as if a liquid sloshed about within it, though this may have just been a trick of the firelight.

“The story of how I came by this and it became my nickname or epesse, as I think you would call it,” he said referring to Nyarane, “is a long and daunting one, best told in a place with a warmer fire and colder drinks than now.”
Taking a draught from a nearby waterskien, Taerion nodded as Ana introduced him formally before he offered her Revenant. She recoiled in what almost seemed horror and Taerion recoiled similarly but in puzzlement at the woman’s actions.

She spoke to him, “I should have left that blade where it was found, were I you, or at the least buried or destroyed it, in the very hour as it's inconsistency to normal was revealed. Ever have we Mortals been entranced by the deception of 'powers' supposedly offered us. Ever has accepting a supposed strength or vantage we were not meant to obtain led in the end to loss, to horror and to the ruin of all. You are a braver man than I, Taerion Greyfang. As brave as the Nine, or as Ar-Pharazon. I shall pray it is not a trick of the Enemy to lure you toward foul end, for your sake. For all our sakes. A braver man than I indeed ....."

Taerion’s eyebrows knitted. Ana had a point, she most certainly did but it was not, Taerion was convinced, a correct one.

“Always, in both peace and war, have I been convinced of one thing my friend,” he said, “that evil and the destruction and ruin it wreaks come not from tools but from those who wield them. Even those things made for the dark lord’s greatest sevants I wager would serve his enemies valiantly, should they be given to those with the will to master such tools.”

But Ana was gone and Taerion saw his words go with her, unheeded. The young woman walked off, speaking wit to her cousin and conversing with Ann. Taerion sighed and scratched at his salt and pepper beard. He remembered another young ranger, hot-blooded, rash and so utterly convinced that his thoughts were truth and the world was nothing beyond what he knew of it. He had done many things at that age, both rash and hotblodded, that he would now condemn any person for doing.

The old sage frowned, thinking of a book he had once read in his youth a tale that he was sure, if told to Mirana would convince her of his view. His father had been a cryptographer for the rangers but he had contracted Consumption. While the rangers and elves could slow the disease they could not stop the slow decay of the once proud ranger’s lungs. Thus Taerion’s father had worked from his bed, bringing home a sizable portion of the Library of Osdolen with him.

Taerion had often sequestered one of two of the more interesting books away - some were guides to his father’s art and other’s were his subjects, old texts written in code or tales of those who had done the coding to be searched for some clue to reading the texts.
It was the memoirs of Kyra Fireheart, a steward of Arnor and renowned cryptographer herself that he remembered now. Kyra had talked about the forging of the swords of arnor - that the forging of the metal in both pure water and pure flame gave the blades power over the servants of the enemy. These weren’t the powers of revenant but something far subtler and more powerful. She had written: “The enemy can stand neither the purity of water or flame for such forces hold within them a remnant of life, a shadow of the breath of Eru. Thus a sword tempered in blessed water and forged in the flames of resilience and faith can pierce the flesh of the enemy far deeper than normal blades are wont to do..”

Taerion sighed once more, chewing the end of his pipe as he smoked. He wanted to explain to Ana, to tell her how the techniques of the ages past now seemed like magic simply due to their rarity, that power was not to be distrusted simply for the sake of being powerful. But then he stopped. This was an argument he had many times before he realised, but not with Ana, nor in this tone.

Sorrowhawk, Taerion’s wife was quite firmly set within the belief that power and want of power was in and of itself destructive, corruptive and mind-destroying. Taerion often came to head with her on such issues when they engaged, as they often did, in their philosophical debates and discourses. Perhaps it was those wood elves, rubbing off on Sorrowhawk as well as Ana.

Perhaps another time, another day they would discuss such things but until then, well...

He stowed Revenant within its sheath and laid it with his pack to the side of the camp. As he stood and moved his belongings he heard Khal talking to the new arrival they’d picked up in Fornost, Gwendolyn he’d thought the captain has called her.
Taerion considered going over to the captain and joining the conversation, but no, he’d be told what he needed to be told when he needed to be told. He trusted his captain implicitly and saw no reason to interrupt his conversation.

Instead he turned to Ann who was sitting just nearby, still admiring her newly presented sword. Taerion, a metalworker by craft couldn’t help but admire it also now that Ann had taken a large amount of the rust and decay from the blade. Taerion had been taught metalcraft as a young man by Tahluk Mahir, a travelling merchant and the first person he’d ever fell in love with. While he’d fallen in love with Tahluk, he’d also fallen in love with the craft and even now could not help but think of how the sword might have been planned, made, gilt and made ready for a queen.

“It is mighty.” Spoke Taerion with a smile at Ann as he took the pipe from his teeth. “You will wield it well I’m sure. How do you find a blade compares to your traditional weapons?” he asked.

Ercassie
20/Sep/2015, 11:33 AM
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Mirana (Ana) Elforiel and Gwandhyra Harion
Lessons and Learning


Gwandhyra had feared that their drink had conjured forth a maudlin mood as much for Nyarane as for himself. He had been glad to turn thought and speech toward weaponry. It was rare to find so sweet a flower as this elleth who would yet engage so utterly about the tools of war. His sword he obligingly surrendered unto her most able scrutiny, although he hovered territorially about the blade, as though he stood a first-time father and the heirloom was his new-born babe.

"To speak of Gondor is a wrench. It is too fair a land to leave behind and I fear that none may truly ever do so, not in any manner of entirety. The white city lingers in the heart of all who ever called her home. I miss the streets of Minas Tirith I would deem as hardily as you miss those of Ondolinde. But our paths do not always take us where we would go."

Throwing back his head, the Ranger concluded with his drink, and touched upon thoughts, which remained, probably for the best, unspoken. Would he ever know the joy of homecoming, proper, or was it as he had been warned, a fruitless risk that would be end in sorrow ? To go south you must first go north. he recalled Silugnir's words from the Vale of Imladris. Still he knew not how being a Ranger of the North would one day see him fight for the sake of his far off southern city ..

"I knew not even that Mirana here was kin to me, until she found my sword and thought I had robbed it's twin of her father," he diverted his mind from his homeland, or attempted to. "It was a rather tense air for a moment there," he laughed, not utterly forcing the amusement, "until we both recalled there had been of old two blades; one that migrated to Arnor, and the other .. Gondor .."

As he had but moments before, Gwandhyra found cause to reflect upon his subject matter. But not now the legendary swords, or a lost home, ... more so the cousin he had sworn to come to know more proper. All he knew at this precise moment was that he could guess her upset.

"If you would excuse me for just a moment", he craved Nyarane's courtesy. "I would not lose my cousin now having come so far to unite with her, and our unrealised destiny". He ducked his dark curtain of hair in respect. "I shall return," he vowed, "soon" he added, leaving her to admire his great sword, almost begrudgingly.



Ana had stomped off but a little ways, and climbed a wretched tree. She could not rightly comprehend what had made her speak out so strong against Taerion. It was not as though she'd ever encountered an evil so great that she could claim right of experience.

"Come down, afore you hurt my neck," her cousin bade her, weary already.

"I have said too much and now have no more words". The woman hugged her branch and glimmered in only occasional view amongst the abundant foliage.

"I do not believe that for one instant," Gwandhyra shook his head, and awaited for two passing members to leave him, laughing at his 'conversing with nature'. One of them called out a query if the Man had been hit in the head, hard, during the skirmish ... Even that brought no quiver of mirth from the lofty haven of his cousin. "Very well. Then listen, at the least," he bade his stubborn relative. "That old goat is wise for all his years. I am sure he thinks nothing of your outburst."

"I do not make outbursts," Ana dropped down from her perch and considered her kinsman. " I do not know what it is of late .. first Khallador with the Witches, and now Taerion with the Sorerous sword .." she scowled at the ground, and sought to kick a muddied cap of dried mess from one booted toe.

"You don't like magic" Gwandhyra acknowledged. "It is not the ..

"I do not like this change in myself." Ana sighed and threw a glance forth to meet his. Her grey eyes were as fearful as they were certain. "It is you, I think," she crossed her arms. "Ever since you came here, and then father gave to me his sword .. I do not feel I know myself any more. Something is happening to me. And I am not the sort of person that things happen to."

Gwandhyra looked the young woman up and down, then dragged upon her hand, insistently.

"Mirana, you are you," he assured her. "And I am me. You can not tell yourself who you are, you must discover such mysteries for yourself. And not be then afraid of what you may uncover."

"I can not make apology," she realised, shifting uncomfortably under his attention. "I would be ashamed".

"Come and sit with Ann," he suggested, gently. "Make naught of it and naught it shall be. Be well. I promise, there is naught wrong with you.""


Unconvinced and yet bereft of all further objection, Mirana trailed behind him and found a seat close beside Ann, who was studying the art of sword-cleaning, with Taerion. But kindly Ann engaged the other and equally slight woman, in conversation.

"I do not read that well myself, outside the common tongue," Ana admitted in a small voice, tucking a strand of her pitch hair behind one ear. And then immediately heaving it toward release, so her slight erratic gaze might be concealed some behind the veil. "My father does not see, ever since I was small. So teaching me was .. difficult .." she explained.

"You are still small," Gwandhyra observed, with a goodnatured chuckle, seeking for a smile to replace the delicate subject he knew she would not wish to discuss. For certain it was her being so frequent now away from Jowan that had leant a frailty about the woman's mind. She worried for her father. But the world was grown more dangerous, and every spare hand must be employed ...

"Since I was a child," Ana corrected herself, and fell against her cousin, in an affectionate bump, to scarce berate his efforts. "I have picked up some piece of the spoken Elvish since coming out on patrol with the veterans. And from this fool here," she confessed, and cast her eyes elsewhere as she admitted, "There is much of this world yet I have no schooling in. And it is strange. Not so much the land, for that I am familiar. But people ..." Her words there trailed off, their tone enough to express just what syllables came not to speech.

"Everyone learns Sindarin in Minas Tirith," Gwandhyra rushed in, to spare her further scrutiny. "And in Dol Amroth most speak it quite fluently. It is not an extrordinary skill. If you wish for something difficult, then spend some years in ... "

In his own turn there, the Ranger stalled, and looked abruptly to amend the subject, casting his own thoughtful features into a shroud of lost memory.

"You speak the common tongue extremely well, for one raised on the Elder speech," he complimented Nyarane, with sudden fervour. "How is it that you did learn our words ? You said you never visited in Numenor .. so was it then perchance during your years in Gondor that you came to make such words with men ? Or much before, during the War of Wrath, before even the drowning of Beleriand ... ?" He blushed, glancing in query more a moment overlong upon the elleth's alluring features, even as he pushed for information from the most experienced of their world sat amongst them. And held out his hand, to recover the sword that he had left with her, in good faith.

"I imagine you must have such tales, that may rival even those of the Grey fang," he proposed to the pretty Elf, and awarded Taerion in turn, respectful gesture. The legend of the grizzled expert had but whet the Southener's appetite, and he vowed to persevere with such lines of inquiry when they were all thrust back to the Four Winds for recreation, after. But the Elleth was ... the likeness was uncanny ...

"You are STILL staring," Mirana touched his arm, helpfully. But the Man turned not away. There was an expression the Elleth fell to, which was unmistakeably identical, for all the other differences between her ... and the long-time dead Heraasi ..

Aranadhel
22/Sep/2015, 07:45 PM
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Nyarane
Halcyon Guard
Maethor

Tales of Long Ago

“Deeds will not be less valiant because they are unpraised.”
– Aragorn in The Return of the King, The Passing of the Grey Company




Nyarane scrutinized every words that spouted from Gwandhyra's mind. She hid a smile, clearly he was smitten with her for all that he kept saying she reminded him of his long lost loved one. A subject that she would not broach unless willingly told in full by the Ranger of the South. Her eyes never left his face as he excused himself from her and left his weapon in her care. Rane merely nodded and silently walked off to check up on Brownfoot, her horse. With Gwandhyra's sword in tow. If the other Rangers gave her sidelong glances she paid no heed to it - so used to the stares of the Edain ever since the First Age that she had thought it to be overly amusing. The ethereal beauty of the Eldar has no equal in Arda that was true but Men would not, could not tell apart between a Calaquendi and a Moriquendi to save their lives. She grinned to herself away in plain sight as she patted Brownfoot's mane and whispered words in its ear. Satisfied, she headed back to the camp and now found that Mirana has joined her cousin back on the hard ground floor.

Rane returned the sword to Gwandhyra and smiled in assent at Mirana as the cousins were talking about languages. Before long the elleth was subjected to a barrage of questions from Gwandhyra.... one so eager to drink in knowledge... long lost knowledge Men in the Third Age would find hard to come by. One which she would gladly entertain as it was a good way to put aside the thought of hunger. So much questions from one so young! Rane laughed a merry tune heard by all at the camp. She then took a moment to construct the words carefully before speaking to both the cousins. As you both know I was born in Gondolin in the year 315 of the First Age and was privileged to have had a teacher who not only taught me different languages but also in the arts of war. But of course the Westron that is spoken now is but a deviation of what your forefathers spoke back in the First Age. Those of the Three Houses of the Edain followed Elros Tar-Minyatur, twin brother of Elrond to Numenor and there my Master went as well and helped found the language of the Numenoreans, Adunaic. Rane let the words settle in their minds before continuing. Like my Master I also shared his interest in the affairs of Men so it was natural to pick up whatever that he has taught me. She continued.

Ai! The tale of Ar-Pharazon was indeed tragic. My master told me how beautiful Numenor was and I regretted not being able to visit the island even once!. Rane bowed her head in silence once more, lamenting the lives and land lost to Sauron's doing. She then looked at both Gwandhyra and Mirana with her piercing blue eyes. It was an honour to fight with your forefathers at the Last Alliance. For three years at Imladris we trained side by side with the Dunedain before we marched south. I made many good friends during that period for many were survivors of Numenor herself. I taught them Quenya in exchange for them teaching me Adunaic. Alas, all good things came to an end in the Second Age. Rane mused and straightened her tired legs as she let them both contemplate her words. She broached upon a lighter subject then. We were glad to come upon Minas Tirith after the seven years of war in Mordor. Isildur brought us forth to rest, recuperate and restock within the White Walls. She smiled sadly at them both. The might of the Eldar is no more. Our last King perished along with a huge number of my fellow friends and warriors. Many of my people forsook Arda soon after and are still doing so as we speak now. Do not be disheartened you two... I may be one Elf but believe me when I said even though we are less in numbers now there is still Estel (Hope) for Arda. The Age of Men will come one day and I want to bear witness to Sauron's utter removal from Arda and see Isildur's Heir on the throne once more. Rane said all these with conviction and hopefully it wil uplift their spirits. I hope that is enough tales for now, son of Gondor? Rane stared playfully at Gwandhyra whilst she patted Mirana's shoulder in jest.

Ercassie
01/Oct/2015, 04:35 PM
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Mirana (Ana) Elforiel and Gwandhyra Harion


"If any one of my teachers or professors had ever been so fair of face as you, my ladythief, I am some sure that I should have eagerly pursued a career as a scholar, rather than a soldier !" the Ranger laughed, slapping one hand heartily about a knee.

"Your stories are legend," he awarded Nyarane, abruptly respectful as he recalled himself, and his company. "The blood of Numenor may in these latter years have waned as ever much the lines of your fair Elvish kings, but the tales that we each and all tell exhume ancient marvels. Epics of the past are a thing to live up to, or aspire similar, for certain. And though our greatest heroes now be steeped in shadow, where is it said that their sun shall shine not all the fiercer, when their hour comes ? Personally, I think it is more so in times when hope is a stranger, as we learn who truly we may be. Desperation and such dire tribulation can incite a Man, or Elf toward that which he, or she, may never have envisaged for ...."

Acknowledging he had become somewhat carried away with his speech making, just for a change, Gwandhyra fell silent suddenly.

"Saying is not doing," he conceded. "To the coming once again of the time for deeds !" he raised his sword, and watched Mirana sink a little further unto herself.

"It is customary to raise a glass, not a sword, when making a toast," she mentioned quietly. Her cousin shrugged.

"I have drunk my fill" he decided. "And spoke ever more so." Indeed the beauty of the Elleth and easy comradery of his fellow Rangers had led his words to fall even more liberated than was norm. It was best he stow his speeches afore he joined his cousin in the realms of most awkward regret.

Aranadhel
01/Oct/2015, 09:49 PM
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Nyarane
Halcyon Guard
Maethor



“War must be, while we defend our lives against a destroyer who would devour all; but I do not love the bright sword for its sharpness, nor the arrow for its swiftness, nor the warrior for his glory. I love only that which they defend.”

– Faramir in The Two Towers, The Window on the West

Elven Gifts



Hear! hear! Rane raised her fist in the air, agreeing with the Ranger Gwandhyra as he made his rousing speech and held aloft his sword to the sky. She was still too tired to even unsheath her sword in unison. Sensing the distraught look on his cousin, (Mirana) the elleth spoke soothing words to her. Be glad that your cousin is a Man worthy to take on the might of Mordor and with you by his side the Orcs shall fear your twin blades! Her eyes sparkled brilliantly at the mention of the Enemy. Her friendly countenance she hoped would bring some calmness to the Mortal lady. Rane suddenly had a brilliant idea and she patted Gwandhyra's boot. Sit down, Man. Be careful with where you point your sword! She chided him. I have a gift she paused Or two for the both of you. She smiled again, feeling quite pleased with herself. As she bent her right knee the elf carefully and gently unzipped a secret compartment in her high leather boot and unraveled an elven dagger. She tossed it to Mirana and repeated her step on the other side of her leg. Another elven dagger which she tossed it to Gwandhyra. My gifts for the both of you. It was made in Rivendell before the Last Alliance. She nodded. I hope it will serve you both well against the Enemy. It is of Noldorin design and the blade shall neither rust nor break. On both daggers there are inscriptions written in Quenyan, running on the blunt side of the blade.On yours. Rane pointed out to Mirana it translates to Beware the Light of the Eldar and on yours the elf patted Gwandhyra's shoulder to get his attention since he could not keep his eyes off her face and pointed her finger at the dagger now in the Ranger's grasp it says Evil shall be Extinguished.

She then held up her hand before the two could respond. I know what you both will say. Do not worry about me. My bow and sword will suffice. Her words were final. She then quickly changed the subject. Let me tell you both the story of Gondolin, from whence I came. Long ago back in the First Age... as the elf narrated the founding of the White City to the cousins and other Rangers in the camp.

Ankala Teaweed
07/Nov/2015, 05:02 AM
Ann Kalagon
Ranger Recruit
Wilderness southwest of Deadman’s Dike

Ann watched as Mirana handled the Greyfang’s sword with some trepidation; she noted that her new friend seemed wary of his sword and she wondered at what might be the reason for this. After he had resheathed his blade, he again turned to her while she sat still working some of the rust from her new-found treasure, and said,

“It is mighty. You will wield it well I’m sure. How do you find a blade compares to your traditional weapons?” he asked.

She smiled and replied simply, “I hope you are right that I shall wield it well. Yet, I cannot truly yet compare it to my smaller knives for I have had no experience at all with a sword. I know what I can do with a dagger or a hunting knife. This,” she held it up with a smile, “is so new to me. First thing is I need a working sheath until I can get a proper one made.” She dug a hand into her saddle bag and pulled out a portion of tanned deer hide, and rolled it up in that, then tied it round with twine under top and bottom. She hoped that would suffice for carrying it ahorse for the present.

Mirana sat back down and picked up their conversation about the writing of and speaking of Elvish tongues. She told Ann she only read a little, but that she had picked up more of the spoken Elvish since joining the Rangers and from her cousin.

Gwandhyra told how all learned Sindarin Elvish in Minas Tirith, “and in Dol Amroth most speak it quite fluently.” He said it was not a matter of skill but rather than going on to perhaps encouraging work at it, he trailed off and then instead addressed Nyarane in a query of her own history of learning the common speech.

Nyarane then, surprisingly to Ann, began to speak of having been in the ancient battles of the Last Alliance and how she hoped to remain in Middle-earth long enough to witness the fall of Sauron and see the heir of Isildur restored to the throne. It was at that point that Gwandhyra again complimented the elleth Nyarane and made some reference to a toast to which she responded with a raised fist. She gifted elvish daggers to Gwandhyra and to Mirana, and then she held forth in depth to tell the story of Gondolin, its fall and the history following the First Age in some brief detail up to the founding of Minas Tirith.

By this point, Ann was lost in her own thoughts, not having kept up with the nuanced interaction between the man and the elf. He had his mystery, her family’s old friend. There was something there in regards being in the presence of this elleth, Ann did not need to know what it was. Foremost in her mind were two things: Firstly, how long might they be able to enjoy this rest before moving on? Would they be able to sleep here, even for awhile? And secondly, when she might get some proper mentoring in the use of her new treasure, this ancient sword of a Numenorean queen?

Greyfang
01/Mar/2016, 04:50 AM
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Rose Yule and Jade Nimraelen
Ranger and Warden of Annuminas.
High King's Crossing.
That evening.

The fire burned merrily underneath the gaze of the colossus of Elendil as the wardens turned a haunch of deer and an assortment of tubers and roots on the spit above the leaping, fat-fueled flames, as fat loaves of thick damper (traveler's soda-bread) baked in the coals and tea was poured from metal billys into crude clay mugs.
Rose walked around the fire as the flames began to die down, eating a few strips of meat and brushing the ash off the outside of the coal-baked bread. She talked with the wardens a little but mainly let them be, walking away to sit on the edge of the crossing and gaze out across the darkening Lake Evendim, the bandit fires of Annuminas flickering against the old stone in the south, the hills of evening glinting in the moonlight to the north, the wilds in the west-
"Oi!" a voice punched through her thoughts, "you should eat more than just that you know." Rose looked up to see the curly-haired Jade standing over her, holding a large slab of damper stuffed with fresh-carven meat and tubers and two earthernware mugs of tea.
"Here have this," she said, pushing the damper into Rose's hands and sitting down next to her, "It's Rose right? I know you pulled that big-mean-ranger gig when you turned up today, but you don't have to keep it going just to scare us all you know?"
Rose nodded, "It doesn't matter if I scare you or not, it matter that I lead you well. That I lead as many of you out of battle as I lead into it." she said grimly, staring at the flickering campfires in Annuminas. "And thanks, but I already had a bit to eat and-"
"That wasn't anything, come on, eat up grumpy-face," said Jade with a grin, "If things are as bad as you think they are and we're all going to die tomorrow or whatever, you'd better eat a good dinner, hadn't ya?"

Rose raised an eyebrow at Jade as the young woman rolled her eyes and laughed, taking a bite of the sandwich before Rose could. "They do have sandwiches where you're from right?" she asked, her voice muffled as she ate and her deep brown eyes, the colour of lacquered wood, shining with mirth.
"Yes, Bree has sandwiches," Rose assured her, hiding a smile, "Can't say I'm used to them in the wilderness though."
Jade shrugged, "I've always got a bit of flour with me, Caeton had some milk and salt. Easy stuff." she pulled a long-stemmed pipe from a pack hung on her belt and stuffed a bit of pipeweed in it, before offering some of the stuff to Rose.
Rose, having devoured the sandwhich in record time (though the rather large bite taken by Jade may have helped), nodded and fished her own pipe from her outfit.

As the two women smoked for a moment in silence, Jade followed Rose's eyeline to the ruined city on the south of the lake. "I can understand what you mean," she said in the cool night air, "The others really just think we're just on a training mission, that maybe you're here to supervise us for a bit and then take us back to Osdolen, but I know better. Me and Liz, we've talked about it before. The rangers are stretched thin and that leaves us as not in training, but as guards." She sucked in a puff of smoke and tried to blow a smoke ring, but it came out a little more like an oval that wasn't quite sure if it wanted to be circular or square. Rose's attempt wasn't any better and both women chuckled gently at the efforts of the other and their own.
"But it's not just that is it?" said Jade after a moment, causing Rose to raise her brown eyebrow once more. "Liz and Gwondir have caught onto it but I don't think they realise the full extent. I think I'm just begining to. We aren't even guard anymore. Nor wardens. We're invaders, or we will be, when the time is right."
Rose pursed her lips and grunted expressively.

Jade grinned, "Fine! Keep your secrets then, Ranger Rose," she said teasingly. Rose laughed, "Oh Valar, Ranger Rose, I've never said it that way before, and I don't wish to ever, ever again." Jade grinned at her teasingly, her ocher skin shining in the reflected light of the embers, as did Rose's hair. Normally it was a light auburn but in frugal light it seemed to catch aflame in a moment, shining orange before darkening again.
Behind them the rest of the wardens began to settle into their bedrolls, Rose had assigned herself to first watch after all and for a moment she realized that she was on watch. Not for enemies abounding, but for them, for these little greenhorns who so easily forgot that they were sleeping in the footsteps of kings, for the world of innocence that was grimly protected by a ranger's duty.
As if sensing what she was thinking of Jade asked, "What's Bree like? I mean, I've been there, but it must be very different actually living and being raised there."
Rose shrugged, "I was actually raised in Archet, the next town over from Bree, but most Bree-towners call it part of Bree anyway. It's a nice town. Larger than most and busier. Life is hectic there, but with a simple kind of complexity. There's theives and bandits sure, and moonshiners and robbers and a well-used gallows, but that's just humanity. For the people there there's no dark lord, no evil, just.. life."
"You must love your family a lot," said Jade, looking up at Rose, shivering as a cold wind whipped in from the lake.

Rose nodded, "My sister, Sara is in the hill watch, the police of Bree. She has a fine little cottage, lots of animals and herbs and flowers. Lots of life. She's got a good life there." As Jade shivered, Rose pulled the young woman across to her side and extended the arouch-skin cloak to wrap around Jade's shoulders as well as her own. "What of your own family?" she asked Jade, who pushed a tuft of curly hair from her vision.
"My parents make a good living in Dorwinion as vinters, but that's all they really want now. My sister, I don't know about but I think she went traveling too, met some hermit elf and went wandering. My parents were very displeased and wrote that it was even more reason for me to come home to them." she sighed, putting her chin in her hand.
"Honestly, I can't blame them. Wanting a whole and complete family, a safe family, isn't that big of an ask, but I feel like I can't just sit there and do nothing when..." she gestured towards the fires in Annuminas. "But I see where they're coming from. It's hard for them, they lost their fire after my elder brother died when we fled from harad."

"I'm sorry," said Rose and Jade nodded gently. "I only remember bits of it, I was still a small child at the time, but I remember that our city used to be such a bright and beautiful place, but after the cultists came..." her voice turned from sadness to anger as she spoke, "It took them three months Rose, three months and our city was in chaos. Their forces rampaged through the streets, slaying our guards with demons, shades and sorcery. They took every person they considered able-bodied and changed them, screwed with their minds, their hearts, made them shells devoted to their dark lord. Within those three months the city became a battleground - the cultists and their ever-growing armies of the shells of our loved ones, the fog warriors, our resistance made up of what was left of the city guard and the guild of alchemists who dominated trade and all their muscle, they'd throw out these little bombs of chemicals and suddenly a fog like you'd never seen would sweep in... and then there were mercenaries fighting for different lords or interests or just there to pillage and loot... We were lucky to escape."
Jade sighed, knowing she'd probably told more than she should have and in doing, shocked Rose. She opened her mouth to speak but rose beat her too it.
"That's why we have to fight them. That why we have to do more than just defeat the bandits and chase the thieves. That's what Sara doesn't get," she said emphatically, "It's not just about us, it's that the enemy destroys more than we can ever know and if we can do anything at all to help stop that, then we have too."
Jade nodded. "I was only about twelve when the cultists came you know, but still I miss my city. Mal'Shaddar it was called. It used to sit on the edge of the inland sea. In summer the roses would bloom along the coast and the whole city would smell like paradise. The white-bricked roads would shine in the rains and we made buildings' walls out of coloured glass. I used to run through the streets playing hide and seek in the bazzars with my brother. You may have seen the bazzars in Dol Amroth or Minas Tirith, but they're tiny compared to Mal'Shaddar. Or maybe I just think that because I was so little," Jade laughed. Rose smiled, "I've never been to Gondor, though maybe one day," Jade nodded, her opinions on the nation that sometimes helped, sometimes attacked and most just ignored her people, reserved to say the least as Rose tried to muster her politest side to phrase her next question.

"Jade... your brother... can I ask..?" she put forth.
"How he died?" Jade shrugged, stopping herself from sighing. She didn't want Rose to think she resented her for asking the question, but neither was it an easy question to answer. "I'm sorry," said Rose, "I shouldn't have asked, it's-"
"It's ok," said Jade, "You know how I said it took three months for the city to break, for it to really fall to chaos, well the resistance was doing pretty well up until the last week of that third month, we were all in it of course, the whole family and my brother was part of this new mission - to disguise the rebels as cultists and get close enough to take out the commander. But that morning they got a new commander. There was a big blare of horns and this figure rides into the middle of the city on this flame-eyes horse, painted with blood. He was massive with spiked steel armour with a slitted helm and a greatsword shaped like a fang. And his cloak- well if you looked close enough it looked like it was made of skin. We all figured it was one of those Uruks we heard about, but it was worse. He was a Black Numenorian."

Jade took a deep breath and Rose looked at her with worry, "You don't need to continue, let's just leave it there." Jade grinned, "Nah, it's all good. I'm just getting to the good bit."
"So the guy gets off his horse and takes off that helm of his. He's got a face as pale as death, skin almost translucent-like and bone-white hair that drips down his head like dead weeds."
"You made sure to feed me before this story for a reason didn't you?" said Rose wryly, making Jade grin as she continued.
"He tells us all that his name is the Lord of Faces and that he's the new Master of the City. Commanded everyone to kneel to him. Like magic, they did! He walked around the town and cultists, fog warriors and mercenaries alike knelt to him. Until my brother. My brother spat in his face. Right in the eye, blinded him, he did. Imagine if you will the look on this arsehole's face when not one of the commoners but one of the cultists he counts so loyal, spits in his face. It was gold!"
"But here comes the sad part, because at that it was like the spell was broken, everyone started running everywhich way, arrows flew, sword flashed, a load of rebels dropped smoke bombs and straight away our family's running like hell for the city gates. And there's my brother, sprinting towards us with the biggest grin on his face, oh you should have seen it. Radiant. But then a giant, black-feathered arrow comes arcing out of the mist and skewers him. Right through here." Jade touched the middle of her chest as Rose put her arm around her, unsure of whether to wipe away the tears that had begun to roll down Jade's face as she spoke fiercely.

"So we ran. We didn't go back for him, we couldn't, we wouldn't have gotten out if we had, but if I ever meet that Lord of Arseholes again, it'll be my arrow going through him." Jade ended angrily, before snorting a chuckle and wiping away her tears.
"Thanks," she said, looking up at Rose with a smile, "I haven't actually ever told that to anyone before, especially just after meeting them. Gosh I'm sorry, that was way too much, I didn't mean to overwhelm you.."
Rose shook her head, "It's fine, Jade, really. Maybe we can work on your archery skill tomorrow eh?"
Jade nodded, smiling, "Mmmm," she agreed, snuggling closer into the warmth of the cloak. "Archery practice early tomorrow then eh?" she said, yawning.
"Yes," confirmed Rose with a curt nod, "Definitely. Very earl-" she was interupted by a yawn, "-ly." She laid her head against the still-warm golden stone of the colossus as Jade laid her head on Rose's shoulder, eyes fluttering closed. "Yes," said Rose quietly to herself now, "Got to be up at the crack of dawn tomorrow. Training."

Sleepily and drinking the last cold dregs of the tea to keep herself awake, Rose watched as the smoke from the now extinguished pipes still danced above the still darkness of the lake, twisting and turning in inscrutable patterns before slowly sinking into the mirror-like surface. She thought about what Jade must have felt, living through all of that. She sighed. Maybe someday the war would be over. Maybe someday Jade would go back to Mal'Shaddar and rebuild. Maybe.
Soon Rose was drifting off to sleep, eyes still fixed on the lake, thinking and dreaming of happier tales, like the ones her uncle used to tell, of a terrible basilisk far beneath Lake Evendim and of Nenuial, the spirit who was the lady of the lake. Wrapped in her dream, Rose was soon learning the intricacies of old Arnisian sheep-dueling from Nenuial and teaching the rather quite lonely basalisk how to tap dance.
But as it always does for dreams, dawn came far too soon.

Beren Camlost
07/Mar/2016, 07:35 AM
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- The Night Before -





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- Source: Janet Montgomery (http://insidemediatrack.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/2210299-low-merlin-vrs.jpg) -




A solitary figure emerged magically from the ether and paced the reedy shoreline of the Lake with an elegant stride. The lady wearing a green satin dress wore a black lace cloak to ward against the evening chill, the crystal orb of her mallorn staff reflecting the gleam of the silver moon as she approached the still waters of Annúminas.

The Emerald Queen pulled her gold-trimmed hood back when she paused on the steep grassy bank, revealing a fair smooth face framed by luscious raven locks. She swept her rod slowly over the shore, shrouding the landscape with a spell of concealment and muffling all encompassing sounds so none of the Rangers encamped within the ancient capital's vicinity would hear her discussion with the spirit of Nenuial.

"I am the Emerald Queen and I come to you peacefully, Maia," she introduced herself and her business in a beautifully accented soft-spoken voice, bowing respectfully low to the unseen guardian of the ruins. "You may be aware by your divine power that I am Morgul-sensitive," she admitted carefully, hoping she would survive this risky meeting with the angel, "but surely you have powerful insight which can ensure you that I mean no harm or ill will. My father was a good man and his goodness I inherited. I am well knowledgeable about the future so I must ask you to do something for Eriador. There are Rangers here and some arriving which have an invaluable effect on the solidarity and existence of the Reunited Realm of the Fourth Age."

She lowered her staff into the water, gliding the glowing orb across the surface to kindle flickering, luminous images of the Dúnedain of High King's Crossing and the Hidden City - notably Khallador Galerida. "Will you protect them, Nenuial, when the Coven of Rhudaur comes hither?" desperately asked the Emerald Queen, leaning heavily on her staff, looking fragile suddenly.


GM UPDATE:

Greyfang, respond as you will as Nenuial,
ultimately agreeing to guard the lives of
the Rangers in Annúminas then I'll reply
back as the Emerald Queen before updating
the other players, bringing them to the city
as well as Aura and the spellcasters.

Greyfang
08/Mar/2016, 06:23 AM
http://i1080.photobucket.com/albums/j334/Winterwolf27/Nenuial.png

- The Night Before -

http://i1080.photobucket.com/albums/j334/Winterwolf27/Nenuial%202.jpeg
(Source: Charlize Theron Vouge Photo-shoot (http://www.vogue.com/865393/charlize-theron-breaking-away/))

The water lapped gently at the gold-pebbled shore of Lake Evendim as the night grew still and gentle. The wind died to a gentle caress and the waterbirds took solace in a moment of silent recollection. A voice seemed to float over the moon-dappled reeds like the first breeze of a summer storm, before the sky has darkened or the clouds have appeared, when the only herald of the impending tempest is the almost unnoticeable aroma of change that salts the air.
"The Emerald Queen. Art thou royalty or gem?" spoke Nenuial, "My, and men do call me haughty." her voice soft and melodious but unmistakably inhuman, as if the sounds of her voice were not a voice at all but the many melodies of the lake pieced together in a disconcerting parody.
The echos of her voice whirled around the staff-wielding form of the Emerald Queen before seeming to coalesce into a single point upon the lake's surface, a few meters from the shore where the Queen stood, the orb of her staff dipped in the lake. The lake shifted and rose, the water twisting and spinning under the moonlight to form a tall, imposing figure, sexless and ageless. The whirling vortex of water made no sound as the lake-water's rotation hastened until the moon's light shifted a moment and like an optical illusion revealing it's 'true' form there no longer stood a spirit upon the lake, but a woman.

She was tall, as tall as the elf-kings of old, with sun-tanned skin the colour of brazen oak and flowing tresses of bone-white hair that swept behind her like the train of a bridal dress. She was garbed in a long, sleeveless dress of gossamer and satin the colours of the shifting waters, studded with shards of pearls and glass and coloured stone and upon her arms and neck there danced a hundred silver-blue tattoos. As the Emerald Queen watched, the tattoos moved and changed, depicting what was happening within and around Lake Evendim. Reeds blew gently in the wind above Nenuial's right clavicle, while crocodiles invaded a camp of sleeping tomb-robbers on her left shoulder. Figures tentatively explored old ruins along her forearm and a school of fish fled from a particularly hungry kelpie and all the while the moon rose ponderously over her left temple.

"Oft in antiquity, the Kings of Old would call me, in want of aid and wisdom. Presently I am myth and legend to all but a seldom, wretched few." she spoke gently, walking on the lake's skin to the edge of the shore, "I hath had dealings with the rangers. Thine folk remember where others choose the oblivion of history. Within them lie the old ways, dormant but strong. Yea, I know them worthy of my aid."
She paced around the emerald queen, pools of water flowing from the Lake to hold her feet off the soil, a sigh like a summer wind against the lake's skin emanating from her.
"Thy request does not oppose my will, but I am unsure if it is worth what power I doth posses. I am diminished from the days of yore. Once I raised the flood to cover yonder city, now it slips back further with each day and it takes all my power just to walk on un-hallowed grounds. I have seen the scions of Arnor. I am a river daughter and my gaze does stretch far beyond my small abode. I know what part they have played and know it will only grow as the game goes on."

"Verily, I hath watched the world grow old. I have kept to those promises once sworn, but I have done little else to assuage the flow of fate. I have taken little actions, gifting swords to rangers, guiding the lost to where they may find their part to play. This, I have thought my contribution, but always I have known that it was not enough, that one such as thee would come."
She looked down and then out over the Lake which had been her home since before men named the ages, the place from which she had watched and rested and hid from what duty she should have perhaps held to, as all the river-daughters had in their own ways. True, they had helped in little ways, but all knew that little ways were now not enough.
"I have long guarded this sundered city of the ancient men," spoke Nenuial, her inhuman voice, hardening with resolve, "Doth it now seem fitting, that my power should shield it's long-lost descendants. Thou mind shall harbour no doubt Gem-Queen, the waters of Nenuial shall once more aid the realms of men. It shalt be so, for is long since time I was more to the world of men than a watery tart distributing swords." *
Her voice grew stronger and her eyes shone with power as her words grew more and more like the rushing torrents of the cleansing flood. Her features shimmered in the moonlight like a mirage, scales and fins appearing and dissipating along with pincers and jaws filled with a thousand rows of teeth.
"I am a daughter of Ulmo," she affirmed, her voice seeming to shake the lake and ground, which now stood deathly still, "That name carieth power, as doth mine, a power that will shield thine Dunedain and turn against they enemy's pawns."

All along her body the tattoos began to change - the kelpies stopped chasing fish and turned upon their corrupted brethren, more creatures from the deep of the lake joined in the crocodile's attacks on the tomb-robbers as crayfish clambered over the ruins as Nenuial's eyes and deep-water fish made their ways to old caches of weapons and armour in the submerged depths of the city. Creatures with names lost to time began to wake from slumber, freeing themselves from the choking weeds and mud that smothered their once revered halls.
"The food of Annuminas will drain when ye haveth need, as it will rise in dire times," said Nenuial, "The only other gift I can give if part of myself," she spoke, clasping a fist to her chest which she lowered and unfurled to to show a number of small glass vials of shining, moonlit water.
"Thou knoweth what these be. Never before have I gifted so many, and I have doubts that I will ever again. Ensure thy warriors use them well."
With that, Nenuial raised her arms, the moonlight shining through her skin as her form once again became of rushing water, dispersing in a flash of moonlight across the lake as the sounds of Evendim rushed in to fill the void the Maiar's presence had left, like the world releasing a pent up breath.

* It really is no basis for a system of government.

Nolewen
30/Mar/2016, 03:31 AM
Tirwen
The Four Winds

The brown horse slowed down as it approached the entrance. The young woman riding it held her head high in determination, her hood thrown proudly back to reveal her beautiful face. She was armed well, with a few hidden knives, a sword, and bow and arrows. Her sharp brown eyes surveyed get surrounding constantly, seeking possible threats. The horse came to a final stop. The rider breathed deeply, sitting completely still on the back of her horse and making a final decision. This was her last opportunity to turn back. She bit her lip in silent anger. The brief hesitation made her mad at herself. This was where she really belonged. She was a guard and a fighter, a defender and a protector. She wanted to join a group of people just like her. Descendants of the Dúnedain who protected the Lone Lands.

Tirwen leapt swiftly off the back of horse. She did not speak to it, preferring to look straight in its eyes and make a direct request. It was not truly mind reading, just a brief connection to another being's thoughts and emotions. She did not know whence this power came, but she found it very useful. The horse understood. They always did. It turned and began walking away. When she'll need it, she'll just have to call for it, and it'll come. Horses were ridiculously easy to communicate with.

Tirwen entered the courtyard, glancing around her in necessary suspicion. One could never know who would be hiding where. Everything contained a possible danger, and an experienced fighter was expected to know that. Tirwen crossed the courtyard as quickly as she dared without arousing suspicion. She was sure that she was being watched. No one in their right mind will leave their headquarters unprotected and unguarded. She entered the cavern, following the descriptions that had been given to her by Rangers that she'd met. Her cloak swirled about get feet by a barely felt breeze. She climbed up, exploring the cavern in curiosity that was not dimmed by her sense of caution.

Tirwen finally found her way to the place called the Four Winds. She entered it slowly, looking around and studying the area surrounding her. "Greetings," her voice echoed slightly. "I came to join the Rangers, and take the Oath. Where is the captain?"

Aranadhel
03/Aug/2016, 08:13 PM
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Nyarane
Halcyon Guard
Maethor

All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;

-Excerpt from the Riddle of Strider by Bilbo Baggins.




Rane could no longer take it being famished though well rested she was and without warning slipped off quietly into the nearby woods. If any of the Dunedain had marked her passing she paid no heed to it. She came back into the camp with a much lighter mien for she had had a successful hunt and had skinned and gutted six rabbits.

A sweet scent of roasted rabbits permeated the air after a while and the elleth tore into the first cooked rabbit and ate like no tomorrow. The bones she threw into the fire and after chomping off the head and sucked the brains' out of the rabbit's skull she was finally contented. She looked up into the sky above and being an elf she instinctively searched for the Gil-Estel and without realising it she'd started to sing the Hymn of Elbereth in Sindarin whilst being attentive to the five roasted rabbits on the spit.





A Elbereth Gilthoniel
O Elbereth Starkindler,


silivren penna míriel
white-glittering, slanting down sparkling like a jewel,


o menel aglar elenath!
the glory of the starry host!


Na-chaered palan-díriel
Having gazed far away


o galadhremmin ennorath,
from the tree-woven lands of Middle-earth,


Fanuilos, le linnathon
to thee, Everwhite, I will sing,


nef aear, sí nef aearon!
on this side of the Sea, here on this side of the Ocean![1] (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Elbereth_Gilthoniel#cite_note-1)





A Elbereth Gilthoniel
O Elbereth Starkindler,


o menel palan-diriel,
from heaven gazing afar,


le nallon sí di'nguruthos!
to thee I cry now beneath the shadow of death!


A tiro nin, Fanuilos!
O look towards me, Everwhite!








She beckoned any Dunadan who looked her way to come closer and break their fast by the fire. Her mood was light but it held an icy tone underneath it. She then wondered when will the Edain break camp to continue their next sojourn.

Ercassie
04/Aug/2016, 11:09 PM
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Mirana (Ana) and Gwandhyra
Southwest of Fornost

Gwandhyra had been gladdened when the Elleth gave them distraction. So many of their small gathering were laid about the camp now and loitering, growing less relaxed and only more restless. Whatever the leaders were debating that had led to this adjournment, he had sought to take his mind from worry, and to focus rather on wonder instead. The attractive Elleth had been a distraction he would not regret. It had been an awful long time since he had been so knocked from himself.

"If you like we can work on your reading and writing when we get back to Osdolen," he proposed more quietly to Ann. He had been possessed by no desire to embarrass her in front of everyone, but now found her to be sat apart, reflective,and the others not watching for him to blush within the Elleth's snare. "Ana too," he added, swiftly. "Her father spends much time in the library. I am fair sure that he could find us a quiet corner where we shall know no disturbing."

"You would have us start a book club ?" his cousin yawned, unashamedly.

"I was rather thinking we might come up with a code all of our own, after a little practice," the man corrected her assumption with an encouraging smile. "It could be much help in the wilderness."

"Your girlfriend has abandoned you, so now you talk to us lowly mortals again ?" Mirana observed. And marked a small strain of amusement as her kinsman startled; as though he had not in fact noted the Immortal's departure. His mind commenced immediately asking where she had gone, but his lips were smart enough to not speak the surprise aloud. Part of his imagination still sought to convince him he had dreamt up the entire scenario.

"Nay," the grizzled Ranger raised his weary eyes. "Now I sleep. Whatever the Chief is debating on, we may as well make ourselves comfortable. When we do make move, eventually, we shall be the better for this intermission. And courageous Ann can earn her practice and learning as our adventure continues. Wake me if it looks as though anything might occur," he bade this last toward Mirana, as he nestled against his pack to make dreams.

His cousin neither agreed or refused his request. She had fallen asleep herself, before ever the Man finished speaking.

Ankala Teaweed
06/Aug/2016, 04:32 AM
Ann Kalagon
Ranger Recruit
Wilderness southwest of Deadman’s Dike


Ann had continued to clean her newfound legacy sword—amazingly it had been the sword of the Queen Tar-Ancalime in her long-ago youth—and worked patiently to attempt to smooth out each spot of corrosion. She would likely need to see an armorer or a smith to restore it rightly.

The talk had sent her mind in a new direction as she wondered if she might get some opportunity to learn of Ermerwen Aranel’s history in Numenor. Who knew but that there could be some tales surviving in the lore of the Rangers of this ancient blade’s having been brought to Middle-earth? Warmed by the fire, she was thinking, “We might be here long enough to catch some sleep” and she leaned back and promptly fell asleep.

The clouds overhead were breaking up in the west and slowly revealed the bright stars. A falling star streaked overhead in a heartbeat. In her dreams, Ann could hear a distant hooting of an owl.

Suddenly the elleth began to sing to holy Elbereth, and Ann became aware of the smells of roast rabbit. She stretched her legs and shoulders and sat up a little to look about. Gwandhyra leaned over and spoke to her of learning to read and write upon their return to Osdolen. Ann smiled and said, “Do you mean it, Gwandhyra? I would be very happy to learn.”

After an exchange with his cousin, the two fell asleep themselves and Ann leaned back on her pack and found her dreams waiting to ride in the stars.

Rainelle Hérandil
01/Sep/2016, 03:35 AM
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Gwendolyn

Having delivered her message, and given the rangers warning of the Rhudaur killing all those rangers, and helped in what way she could, Gwen hung back a little to let the rangers do what rangers do. She might be an excellent fighter but she is by no means a ranger, and while she was perfectly willing to help them, this was the Ranger's thing, and she was sort of just along for the ride.

As she waited for whatever was going to happen next, the young woman began to smell meat cooking, and heard someone singing in Elvish. She listened for a moment, then wandered off from the main group and went in search of the source of the singing. She smiled a little at Rane as she approached her campfire, waiting for her song to end.
"That's beautiful." She commented, meaning the song. "Mind if I join you?" She gave a friendly smile and waited for permission from the elf before taking a seat by the campfire. "I'm Gwen, by the way. And that smells delicious." She added, indicating the meat cooking over the fire.

Aranadhel
02/Sep/2016, 10:11 AM
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Nyarane
Halcyon Guard
Maethor

Boredom


The elleth smiled at the newcomer, a Mortal lady who'd introduced herself as Gwen. Elen sila lumenn omentielvo, Rane nodded and beckoned Gwen to sit next to her. Rane then rose to test the done-ness of the remaining roasted rabbits and tore off half of its body and gave it to Gwen to savour. Tis only seasoned with salt, I'm afraid. I could not find some wild thyme or rosemary in the bushes, the elleth smiled apologetically at Gwen.

Rane sat at her original spot and observed Gwen thoroughly. Rare to find a female Ranger amongst the Dunedain, she commented to Gwen. Rane then slapped her thighs in surprise. Forgive me! Where are my manners? She composed herself and continued I am known as Nyarane, of Rivendell. What brings you here amongst the Company? The elleth smiled brightly at Gwen, her ageless face betrayed not her real age and pain and sorrow she had endured since the First Age. Rane did not know if the newcomer spoke Sindarin so she had taken the safe route and had spoken her from the beginning in Westron, except for the universal greeting in Quenyan.

The elleth was curious to what the Mortal lady had to tell while she'd observe Gwen eating the roasted rabbit. Rane then gathered some small stones and flicked it at Gwandhyra and Mirana's head to wake them up. Mortals!, she mused. They sleep too much! she laughed to herself.

Beren Camlost
24/Nov/2016, 09:04 AM
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Aura, Aileen, Filrain: Lond Daer
Beren, Bridget, and Garavan: Onboard the Halácarn


The battle was won and the Coven had the port in their grasp.

"I found the library," reported Aileen to Aura and Drest, gesturing at an old pillared stone building nestled in the woods a great distance from the shore. "One of the scrolls a Númenorean enchanter wrote, I recognized the magical seals and broke them," she informed them, handing over a gold and silver scrollcase engraved with the Scepter of Elendil and the Tree of Gondor. For months, Aura had led the Coven on several missions into the desolate, unpopulated corners of Eriador to recover hidden caches of Númenorean spelled weapons so they could bend the latent powers to their own will. The latest cache was to be found here but the Witch Queen hoped to find another message of some sort which could lead to the next location.

"Well done, love," Aura murmured pridefully, running her fingertips through her daughter's dark hair. She unfurled the scroll taken from the ornate container. "The next raid is Annúminas itself,"Aura told Drest and did not speak again for half a minute, her coral lips pursed thoughtfully. "It would be a bold step, my friend," she said slowly, her violet eyes lighting with growing excitement. "There are definitely Rangers there, guarding the ancient ruins, unlike the other places we've been to but the Coven has already dared to prove its mettle here against the Dúnedain. We could take a larger force at unawares I'm sure and we do have bandit allies in the Evendim Hills. I say we go. I will choose who will go with us and decide who will remain here under Mercy's command. Meet me on the beach. Find the largest coastal rock you can, Drest. We must power a leystone together. Our combined might will transfer our spirts along with those of anyone with us toward the nearest leystone in the White Downs. We'll trek across country toward Annúminas from there."

When Aura met Drest by the wet pale sands of the Lond Daer's shores she laid her hand on the rough-hewn stone and joined the force of her sorcery with Stoneclaw's. She didn't fail to notice how distressed her daughter looked as their bodies slowly dematerialized in motes of twinkling silver light.



*



"Pa, can you hear me?" Aileen muttered, touching the Temporal Stone, in her hide tent. For months she had learned to manipulate the power of the spelled astrophyllite to locate her father's whereabouts and interact with him via astral projection. Aura wasn't aware of their communication nor she had an inkling of her ex-husband's stubborn intent to rescue Aileen from the Witch Queen's sinister influence.

"Loud and clear, kid," answered Beren Camlost, gradually appearing in shadowy form. Her scruffy-looking father seemed somber and there was quite a few grey strands in his short raven hair. He was clad in black leather as usual and drinking a glass bottle of Combe Straight Wheat Whiskey. His room was situated amidships in the speedy clipper his elven kinsman, Lord Tharmáras Isilherven who Aileen had also been speaking with for nearly half a year, captained.

"Pa, we have to discuss something important."

"Is that my invisible niece?" asked Bridget, Aileen's blonde aunt who didn't look her prettiest today. The young woman's smooth pale skin was sickly green and her blue eyes had lost their lovely sheen. She laid sprawled miserably across a bed bolted down to the wooden flooring.

"Sure is," Beren replied with the slightest hint of amusement and took another greedy sip of the alcohol.

"Are you dying, Aunt Birdie?" Aileen asked, arching a brow while she stifled a giggle.

"Feels like it." Bridget wearily sat up, pushing unkempt buttery yellow hair out of her sweaty face and looked intensely at Aileen. "We're coming for you. Don't give up hope, honey."

"I won't," said Aileen solemnly, almost crying aloud, feeling an outpouring of love for her aunt. "I promise."

"Good that." Bridget Camlost groaned deeply, rolling off the mattress. She skittered across the chamber on all fours like a Far Harad lizard and snatched a chamberpot close to her bosom. She vomited noisily, golden hair held gentlemanly back by her loving brother to whom she gave an affectionate look when she was finished retching.

"I told her me and the guys had this, doll," Beren told Aileen,"but your aunt is just as tenacious as your old man."

Bridget, who was very temperamental, glared icily at her brother. "For the umpteenth time, Bear: I'm going to save my niece from her psycho mom, darn it, so shut up!" Bridget uproariously declared and threw up - perhaps purposefully - on Beren.

Aileen had to cast a magic spell on herself just to keep from belting out laughter. She was so anxious to get out of Rhudaur and live with these people.

Suddenly Garavan, Bridget's elven husband and the son of Tharmáras, came running inside. "Beren, Ada needs you on deck. There's raulingwë spotted off the port bow. They need dispatching quickly. I'll take care of Bridget."

"I'll throw myself overboard while I'm at it, either to cleanse my clothing of this filth or to escape the madness of your wife," Beren grumbled, taking a harpoon off a mounted rack on the wall. He looked sadly at Aileen and approached her with a stoic countenance. Aileen closed her eyes with a deep intake of breath as his phantom fingers caressed her cheek. "Where are you, baby?"

"Near Annúminas. Ma is still collecting weapons. We'll return to Rhudaur when she's finished searching the city. Imladris will be attacked once we've marshaled our forces."

"You may encounter Khallador Galerida, my cousin. Please defend him."

"Since he's family, I'll feel our connection deep inside somehow. I'll protect him, Pa."

"That's good, lass." Beren leaned down and softly kissed her forehead. "I'll be with you soon, darling. Hang in there. Pa's on his way."

Then he was gone, breaking her already splintered heart into more ragged pieces.



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Imelda
Osdolen - The Four Winds


Imelda smiled at the young brown-eyed, lovely girl who entered the Four Winds. She seemed earnest and very aware of her surroundings. The woman didn't give her name but stated her business at once - she wanted to take the Oath of the Rangers.

"I am Imelda Cambel, steward of Osdolen. May I ask your name? The captain - my kinsman, Khallador Galerida - is away on assignment in the Hills of Twilight right now but he charged me to be the custodian of this place in his absence. I can officiate the oath for you. Repeat the words I speak if you're willing."

She clasped her own heart and intoned with a voice as clear as a bell:"I am a Ranger of the North, defender of the realms of Eriador. I am the guardian of the wilderness and the shield of the innocent. At all times I will speak the truth and to fight for the welfare of all, to live by honor and glory and to obey those places in authority. Preserving to the end of any enterprise begun, supporting my fellow Watchers in the battles we fight. I am a daughter of the Dúnedain and a Ranger of the North and I pledge myself in service of the Heir of Isildur this day and for all my days to come."

Imelda relaxed and took a sip of her Archet Rubamel, a mead of the Bree-land made with raspberries of its woodland village. "Khallador left a short time ago," she told Tirwen. "He's searching for a cache of weapons in Annúminasour ancestors enchanted. If you hurry, you may catch up with him or you're welcome to tarry here just a little."




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Henry
City Streets ----> Kennel


"I am lost."

Henry turned to face a blind man who had a scruffy, weatherbeaten face. Henry felt an immediate outpouring of sympathy for the elder Ranger who addressed a wall without knowing it, seemingly.

"Yessir, you found a boy," Henry spoke up, shooting a glare at a few mean-spirited kids passing by who snickered at the unfortunate veteran.

"I'm eleven summers old, sir. What is your name, may I ask? I'm Henry Cambel, the son of Imelda and Thandir Strongand. You may heard of me."

Henry was a seer; his powers of foresight were known and respected - sometimes even dreaded - by many Rangers of the North who frequented the Hidden City.

"I know where the kennels are, Jowan! I like dogs very much; my parents and I often visit it just before a hunt to rent a hound for our pursuits and I usually find them better company than most people. It would be my pleasure to lead you there, sir."

The boy was astounded when Jowan glanced keenly at him as if he knew exactly where Henry stood. He thought of asking him if he was truly aware of his surroundings but thought otherwise, afraid to make thinks awkward between them. It wasn't every day someone asked for his fellowship.

Henry kept his smaller hand in the Ranger's larger one, leading him down the Avenue of the Revered Mother, the broadest road of Osdolen famed by its elegantly towering chryselephantine statue of Gilraen who gave birth to the Chieftain of the Dunedain.

"I leave home often enough, mister," Henry assured him, downcast, not meeting the gaze of his unseeing eyes. "Usually I explore the ruins by myself or with my folks. It's hard to make friends here." Ironically, Nairanis - a pretty dark-haired girl he fancied whom he tried to warn about her father's death along side with the Wolves of Winter - brushed past him angrily, knocking him down on the cobble roadway. "I try to help people but they just get mad at me for it," Henry morosely told Jowan, wobbling to his feet.






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Khallador, Helchon, Bregolon
The Wilderness ---- Annuminas



"Thank you for the warning," Khallador replied, his words so quietly spoken he wasn't sure if Gwen had even heard him, so great was his fear not just for his own life but for the lives of the Rangers with him and the Elven warrior. He said nothing for a long time, letting the others rest and socialize, while emotionally preparing for the turmoil which faced them ahead. When he had composed himself to deliver the frightening news, Khallador awoke the sleeping Dúnedain.

"Gwendolyn Elders was looking for relics in Lond Daer with the permission of Aragorn but she inadventently witnessed the fall of ourpost," Khallador began debriefing them straightforwardly. "The settlement and its quays are now held by the hands of the enemy, sorcerers of the Coven of Rhudaur which, I assume, survived the destruction of their order in bygone days." He paused, looking at Mirana silently for a moment, hoping she would not contest their existence in front of the team. She was the skeptic in the group but, he was gravely sure, Mirana would soon be a true believer.

"If we divert our course it would take us too long to reach Lond Daer to aid our brethren," resumed Khallador, "so we'll continue our pursuit of the cache of weapons the Númenoreans enchanted for just this purpose, some form of protection against Morgul sorcery. When I visit Bree with Beren shortly after this expedition, I'll muster a band of Rangers at the Pony to seek other caches. Inevitably we must try rescuing the southern port so it's critical we find as many magicked arsernals as we can." He gestured at the horses. "Mount up, everyone. I hate to disturb your rest but we must press on."

He smiled at Gwen, shaking her hand. "You have done a very kind thing today for the Rangers of the North, Miss Elders. I'll compensate you for your troubles in Bree. Hopefully I'll still be alive to pay you." He laughed nervously, recalling Henry's terrible vision. "You're welcome to travel with us if you like. We're headed to Annúminas; there's plenty of treasure there I'll permit you to take back to Oliver Rowan, Osdolen, or Imladris. Besides you're good in a fight." He held her shoulder, his mouth a thin grim line. "We could use you if you're willing to support us."




*

"And the loremasters among them learned also the High Eldarin tongue
of the Blessed Realm, in which much story and song was preserved
from the beginning of the world; and they made letters and scrolls
and books, and wrote in them many things of wisdom and wonder in
the high tide of their realm.... For the Dúnedain became mighty in crafts,
so that if they had had the mind they could easily have surpassed the evil
kings of Middle-earth in the making of war and the forging of weapons...."
- Tolkien,from The Silmarillion: Akallabêth

"Whether by some virtue in these sheaths or because of the spell that
lay on the mound, the blades seemed untouched by time, unrusted, sharp,
glittering in the sun / Then he (Tom Bombadil) told them (The hobbits) that
these blades were forged many years ago by Men of Westernesse: they were foes of
the Dark Lord, but they were overcome by the evil king of
Carn Dûm in the Land of Angmar. 'Few now remember them,"
Tom murmured, "yet still some go wandering, sons of forgotten kings
walking in loneliness, guarding from evil things
folk that are heedless." The hobbits did not understand
his words, but as he spoke they had
a vision as it were of a great expanse of years behind them,
like a vast shadowy plain over which
there strode shapes of Men, tall and grim with bright swords,
and last came one with a star on his brow."
- from Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings:
The Fellowship of the Ring - Fog on the Barrow-downs


"Along side the final paragraph, Tolkien has written: "But the
Númenoreans used "spells" in making swords?"
- Note 2 for Letter 155, from The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien



They reached the Colossus of Elendil by dawn, sore and tired. The shining Even-geese paced the grassy embankment of the lakeshore and Dúnedain were on the Bridge - five of them including Rose who was the daughter of Toroin and Bregolion, the son of the Harbinger.

"Taerion, good to see you again, Commander!" Bregolion, a kinder man his father although he hadn't always been, cheerfully welcomed Taerion. He pumped his hand manfully then Khallador's before smiling widely at Mirana, Gwandhyra, Nyarane, Ann, Gwen, and company. "Glad to see we have some reinforcements!"

"Oh, yeah, a whole army," said Helchon dryly. Seemed like every time a captain tried to rouse a band of Dúnedain, there were usually no more than a couple dozen in a territory. Their people were few now.

"Several is better than none," Bregolion shot back, his chiseled face flushing bright red in anger. He used to be a street urchin but reformed under Taerion's supervision. Although he had been redeemed, Bregolion still had trouble restraining the bad temper he inherited from his surly father.

Khallador eased Bregolon back when the tall, brawny lad edged threateningly close with a stony glare at Helchon who had a penchant for irritating sarcasm. "Why would you need reinforcements, son?"

"Lately we've have a few hostile encounters with some tomb-raiders. Most of our force and a couple bands in the southern hills have kept them clear of the island recently which is why there's only me, Rose, and these few others here right now."

"Hopefully your mates and our companies in the southern range will keep them penned up in their hideouts, Breg," Khallador replied. "We didn't know about the raiders but came here to find a few caches of weapons."

Bregolon barked out a laugh, folding his mucular arms across chest. "You mean the enchanted ones?"

"Let me guess, you don't believe in magic?" Khallador, disappointed, asked with a stern look.

"Of course I believe in magic. The Dwarves enchant their wares and I know the Elves have strange powers as did our own ancestors. I know the stories, that the Dúnedain magicked some of their weaponry and the caches are hidden now but the thing is....sorcerers of Rhudaur have been dead for centuries. Don't you think this mission of yours is a waste of time?"

"One of my agents, Gwendolyn Elders -" Khallador, nonplussed, waved at the archaeologist who stood at his left side "- told me sorcerers took Lond Daer a short time ago. She was there in the harbour when the mages attacked."

Bregolon stared at them, his mouth dropping open wordlessly.

"Everyone get in the boats!" Khallador yelled out, pointing at some canoes tied to the nearest pier.

"Do you know where you need to go?" asked Bregolon.

"The palace is our first stop," said Khallador, handing him a folded slip of parchment. "I made an identical copy of the ancient text before leaving Osdolen. If you and your lot are keen to help us, keep this."

"Yessir," said Bregolon, pocketing it. "I have something for you." He handed him ten vials of sparkling liquid. "Found these in the supply shed, one our troop checks every morning. Local farmers drop by to fill our larders and stock us with equipment if the caravans from Bree arrive too late. I don't know what these are or who gave them to us - maybe a healer - but they must be important somehow. I have some but your group may have the rest."

Khallador nodded, passing them out to the people he came with, before getting in his canoe. His group rowed across the still, sun-dappled waters of the lake but their navigation was beset with dangers and filled Khallador's heart with sorrow; the wreckage of beautiful ships bobbed forlornly on the glassy rippled surface which mirrored the bright, cloudy heavens above. "One day we will rebuild this place," Khallador swore fervently to Ann, Taerion, and Tahliana who accompanied him, "when the King comes back." They docked their vessels in a wharf on Tol Annún which once had fronted a grand market in Antiquity. Bregolon led the Rangers carefully through the maze of crumbled buildings and intersecting water-logged streets until they discovered one broad roadway that was paved with white brick. It grandly terminated at the ivied ruins of a curtain wall which rambled across a tree-clad hill.

The Rangers went up the forested slopes and beyond the statued wilderness they found the fallen rusted gates of Elendil's palace. Khallador's green eyes glistened tearfully as they stepped passed the rumbled majesty of the bailey yard, making their way to the pink marble veranda of the cathedral-sized manor. A white-and-yellow female cat lazily patrolled the steps but froze when she saw the Rangers; it took off in an instant, vanishing into the gloom of the High King's hall. "She wants a few rats, nothing more," Khallador, assured the Rangers and their guests but somehow a chill raced up his spine, seeing the little beast escape into the shadowy interior of the castle. Since the reign of the Coven of Rhudaur, cats were infamously reckoned to be familars of sorceresses.

"BOO!" Helchon, whispering but loud enough to be heard by everyone, muttered in Mirana's ear from behind, suddenly gripping her shoulders for a second, before caterwauling away so fast he tumbled and fell on his arse, his laughter echoing off the immense structure's soaring walls. Khallador, continuing his slow pace upstairs,didn't have to order the young man to knock it off; he was certain the youngster wouldn't bother Mirana again when he heard him painfully cry out, undoubtedly struck by her.

Brittle leaves crunched beneath the tread of Khallador's leather boots as he led the walk into Elendil's vast court which should have been quiet but was noisily filled with the thrumming of large wings and the shrieks of bats hanging from the vaulted ceiling where the streaming light of breaking dawn could not reach. The pillared, checkered room was dramatically built of red and gold marble. Towering sculptures of kings, later erected in the days of the Three Brothers, dominated the chamber; each massive kingly figure held a banner, one for each kingdom of the Northern Realm Amlaith hoped to again unite: Arthedain, Cardolan, and Rhudaur.

"The first cache we need is somewhere beneath the Chair of the King," Khallador, studying the scroll, said to the Rangers and Gwen and Nyarane.

"Too bad I found it first."

Khallador, hearing the smokey voice of a woman, looked up and his blood ran cold. A young beautiful lady wearing a blue velvet dress slowly came down the stairway, full red lips widening into a brilliant smile. Her violet eyes glowed eerily in the darkness and silken waves of dark hair flowed over her bared alabaster shoulders. A solemn child who bore an unmistakable resemblance to the mysterious intruder accompanied her and she was robed entirely in white; in her slender arms was the strange cat Khallador had seen outside.

"Do you like my gown?" asked the regal woman, undoubtedly the sorceress of Henry's nightmares, turning herself around elegantly before the Rangers. The twirling motion brought her spinning into a warm beam of sunlight, kindling the sapphires of her necklace aflame. "I wanted to look my very best." She tossed her head back with a wicked, echoing laugh, scattering the bats from their lofty perches.

"Who are you and what do you want?" asked Khallador, gesturing at Mirana and othersto remain still. This wasn't the time to act rashly.

"Aura, the Witch Queen of Rhudaur, and we pursue the same goal - the spelled weapons."

"Those belong to the Dúnedain," said Khallador adamantly.

Aura smirked. "Not if you're dead, love." She splayed her beringed fingers toward Galerida and his company.

Khallador's green eyes widened with shock the instant arcs of red blazing energy flamed from her hands but to his astonishment the small raven-haired girl intervened with a sympathetic expression, hurling the Rangers and the Elf and scholar out of the High King's hall with a blast of air expelled from her palms.

He gritted his teeth, feeling one of his legs roughly meeting the granite surface of the stairway seconds later but he embraced the pain manfully, tumbling down the steps until his back softly met the long windblown grass below.

"Did that kid try to save us from her crazy mom?" Bregolon asked, rubbing a sore arm as he helped Khallador stand up.

"She sure did," Khallador answered quietly, suppressing the urge to run back and rescue the wee girl. Somehow he felt a nearly irresistible urge to defend her but unfortunately the Rangers were his sole priority right now. "We have to split up. We'll have a better chance of fleeing the city with the caches if we work seperately. I'll lead one team and you can lead the other, Bregolon."

"Alright, Lieutenant," agreed the young man, glancing at Greyfang briefly. "I won't let either of you down."

Khallador clasped his forearm comradely for a second and led his group away immediately. "I expect the cache may have referred to the royal catacombs which technically are situated below the chair of the king. There's a way inside from the throneroom itself but we can't go back there; we'll take a different way." Consulting the map, he lead them to the entrance of what seemed to be an underground storm cellar. He halted abruptly though...the stone doors had already been flung open. "Many kings of Arnor and some of their high-ranking nobles were entombed here," Khallador told those with him. "I'm not sure if any of the city's Rangers are down there or Aura's sorcerers..." Staring through the sable murk of the burial ground, his fingers wrapped around his sword's hilt trembled. "I'm heading down there," Khallador said resolutely, venturing into the cool darkness of the ancient ossuary.





GM UPDATE:

Respond as you will. Have your character(s) either
go with Khallador or Bregolon.

Cassie, attack Khallador's party with Drest. Your sorcerer could
have been sent into the catacombs shortly before Aura confronted
Khallador in the throneroom; Drest can distract them with
the magicked skeletons while he discovers
the weapons which are contained in a long box of strange black metal.
I have a quote for that but I'll show it off in my next post.

Rain, guard Khallador.



*



Bregolon guided his team a short distance northeast beyond the palace toward a stalwart rose marble watchtower. "Let's get the cache here then meet Khallador outside the catacombs," he suggested, running toward the iron-banded wooden door but sucked in a surprised breath when a projectile fired into the group. The crossbow bolt struck a Ranger's skull and he went down hard, sullying the dirth pathway with his spurting blood.

Bregolon recovered his wits quickly, gesturing at those with him to hide momentarily behind the safety of shielding bark. "Get inside, old man," Bregolon told Gwandyra and freed a cruciform sword out of the sheath harnessed to his belt. "I'll cover you. Get as many weapons as you can meanwhile, Ann can ring the bronze bell at the top of the tower; that will alert reinformcents in the southern hills. Good luck." He weaved forward, hoping his erratic zig-zag motions through the woods would make him harder to shoot at.






GM UPDATE:

Cassie, Gwandhyra can fight his way into the tower and retrieve the box
that's identical to the one Drest has found; the container can be found
within the stone floor of an observation deck.

Aranadhel, have Nyarane provide back up to Gwandhyra. The bandits,
servants of Aura, are armed with crossbows, blades, and bludgeoning weapons.

Ann, fight your way to the top and ring the bell then
accompany Gwandhyra outside.



*



"You little traitor!" screamed Aura, rounding on Aileen. She reached out to strangle the child, a red haze of anger clouding her vision, but Aileen loosed Filrain immediately from her arms. The girl's familar materialized into human form fluidly between mother and daughter, arresting the Witch Queen's harmful magic with a hostile motion of her pale splayed hand.

"He's related to Pa, Ma," Aileen explained with a tinny voice, looking past the demon's legs to timidly look at her mother.

"What?" Aura was taken aback, heart hammering erratically.

"I felt it somehow, there's a connection between us," insisted Aileen. "Like the one between you and I but...weaker. I think we're distantly related. Either through your paternal ancestors or pa's." She bit her lip. "Maybe he knows where Pa is. The Inquisitor found out he was with the Rangers shortly before your attacks on Marthon and Emerald Heights, right?"

Aura was visably shaken, torn between vengeance and regret.

"Ma, we have to keep him alive." She ran desperately to Aura and flung her arms around her mother. "We won't find Pa otherwise," she said looking up Aura miserably, green eyes brightly glazed with tears.

Ankala Teaweed
14/Dec/2016, 05:17 AM
Ann Kalagon
Ranger Recruit
Wilderness to Annuminas

Ann had been able to sleep away a good bit of the wee hours before dawn and felt mostly refreshed when the company was roused by Khallador. She had been left a small portion of some roast rabbit on a stick, which she ate while blinking at the light on the horizon. Khallador spoke to them all of bad news that had come in the night. A rider called Gwendolyn Elders hunting for relics in Lond Daer happened to be unexpected witness to an attack of enemy sorcerors! It was a coven, in fact, The Coven of Rhudaur, having survived the fall of that land, and it now held the settlement and quays of Lond Daer.

Khallador said that they could not divert there in time to assist the Dúnedain. Rather they would seek a magical cache of weaponry, known to be enchanted to wield ‘gainst exactly these horrible foes, true weapons of the works of the ancient Numenoreans. Khallador meant to muster additional Rangers to seek other known caches of these magicked arsenals as soon as possible.

Ann’s beloved red roan Feather was grazing along with the other horses. They mounted up and moved out. No time to enjoy a beautiful morning, sweet-smelling air and the birds singing around them at the dawning of the sun. As well they had that peaceful morning, however, for the day was long, weary and the end uncertain. All day and all night they journeyed toward their goal with short breaks as was possible in order to keep up their strength as well to not overstress or exhaust the horses. Ann wished now she had inquired in Bree for maps of Eriador. She’d seen a couple on the walls at the Prancing Pony which looked to have an amazing amount of detail.

By next morning, she was near dozing in her saddle as they climbed uphill toward their destination: the Colossus of Elendil. Here they met five more Dúnedain on a bridge approach. Khallador questioned a man named Bregolian about the situation at hand then ordered them all into the small boats seen below at a pier to cross closer to the palace. The man Bregolian had some vials of an unknown bubbly liquid which Khallador distributed among them without explanation. Bregolian told their leader that he had no idea what they were but that they were important. Ann gathered they might be for purpose of healing and secured hers in a saddlebag.

Destroyed great ships blocked areas of the crossing remnant of recent battle. They disembarked and climbed through the ruins to the ancient gates of Elendil’s palace where they saw a cat; Ann could tell from the looks on some of the others’ faces that this troubled them. Not long after they entered the magnificent great edifice, however, they met with a frightening mage of great power whose cat it was. Ann saw then sights she had never imagined. These were not the evil bandits she had despised—these were far more dangerous, terrifying persons who held powers of which she knew nothing. Worse, they were there after the very same cache of enchanted weapons. A young girl mage intervened to prevent her mother’s killing them in a blast of power that knocked them all back outside to the grounds below. No knowing why! Khallador quickly led their group away from the palace choosing a site from his map which he believed to be an entrance to catacombs underneath the ancient throne possibly also containing high Dúnedain burials. He split them up, gave them orders and entered the tombs.

Bregolon led the group she was with to a separate watchtower but there they lost a Ranger before they could enter when a quarrel met his head. Bregolon sent Gwandhyra and Ann inside to fight to the top of the tower. She was to ring a great bronze bell there the sound of which would alert nearby reinforcements while Gwandhyra was to find the weapons cache and seize as many weapons as he could carry with her; then together they would fight their way back down and out to rejoin the company outside.

Ann clasped her new-found sword and secured her poison blowpipe in her belt. The latter would be helpful only at a distance, but it was a relief to know that Greyfang had helped her clean and sharpen her sword, the shining Vardalimë, Defender of Brightness! She took heart she was well-armed as could be and began her run up and into the marble tower.

Nolewen
22/Dec/2016, 07:12 PM
http://i1080.photobucket.com/albums/j334/Winterwolf27/Icons/Ranger%20Icons/ArnorianRangerRank1Scout.png

Tirwen, Scout
The Four Winds ---> Annúminas

Tirwen took an instinctive step backwards as the woman approached her, then chided herself silently for the sudden wave of fear rising through her body. She was not accustomed to the company of other men and women yet, and found it difficult to control her feat, screaming to carry her away, far away from this place. "My name is Tirwen," she said weakly, and gathering her courage opened her mouth to explain a little of her ancestry to this Imelda. Then she thought better of it and took a deep breath to cover for the absent words. She waited for the woman who introduced herself as Steward of Osdolen to direct her with the words she must utter in order to join the Rangers. They were spoken clearly, and she found no difficulty in repeating them, hand placed firmly over heart, eyes shining with newfound enthusiasm.

"I am a Ranger of the North, defender of the realms of Eriador. I am the guardian of the wilderness and the shield of the innocent. At all times I will speak the truth and to fight for the welfare of all, to live by honor and glory and to obey those places in authority. Preserving to the end of any enterprise begun, supporting my fellow Watchers in the battles we fight. I am a daughter of the Dúnedain and a Ranger of the North and I pledge myself in service of the Heir of Isildur this day and for all my days to come."

"I will not tarry, Ranger Veteran Cambel," Tirwen informed Imelda once her heart slowed its excited hammering against her chest. Her face lit with pride at recognizing the other woman's rank. She'd taken some time to practice naming all the Ranger ranks before arriving at the Hidden City, and was now glad to discover her memory did not disappoint her. "I will ride to Annúminas and join Captain Galerida​ immediately." This decision was spoken without the slightest hesitation, which surprised Tirwen herself. Although she was quite confident she knew what she was doing. The wish for battle, the call for adventure. She could feel them warming her skin from inside, her decision strengthening with every breath she took.

The new Ranger bowed deeply to Imelda. Then she turned and swept away without a word. There was no need to request directions, she knew the way to Annúminas as perfectly as any Ranger; she'd been scouting the Lone Lands for years, spending many a cold night lonely wrapped in a single tattered blanket under the stars, listening to the howls of the wild wolves and shivering as though the frozen fingers of fear itself were gripping her heart. She was familiar with the speed of the wind and the whispers of the tall grass. She had touched every stone, seen every stream. The Lone Lands were her home and her life and her love and her fear.

Tirwen found her horse Lightfoot waiting just outside the Hidden City. She did not quite call it, rather simply wished to find it there - and the brown horse, by some curious way, understood and came. She spoke softly in its ear, informing it of her destination and plans, briefly preparing Lightfoot for their journey. The horse neighed in understanding and agreement, its wise eyes attempting to follow Tirwen as she lifted herself into the saddle. "Ride on," she whispered. "Ride to Annúminas."

It was not a long ride, usually completed in several hours of good fast galloping, if the rider knew the way, and if nature did not decide to place several obstacles of its own in their way. Lightfoot was a fast and strong horse, and Tirwen, did not only know the way, but was also well aware of the dangers presented by the surrounding lands, and they successfully managed to avoid any real trouble during their short journey.

As they neared the ruins of Annúminas, Tirwen brought Lightfoot to a stop. "I will continue by foot," she told the horse, almost apologetically. After quickly dismounting, she added several words in Lightfoot's ears; she could sense danger in the air, and asked it to stay as far from the ruins as possible without going to far to come to her aid if desperately needed. She made sure it galloped away safely, after solving some protest at leaving her alone and, as Lightfoot saw it, completely defenseless. Tirwen​ looked back at the form of her dear horse galloping away, a form she'd come to love and know well, and for a brief moment she was struck by hesitation - perhaps this would be the last time she would ever see Lightfoot. She steeled herself, again angered by the mere thought of turning back. No, she will go ahead, even if it means facing sure death.

Tirwen unsheathed her long, sharp blade, its familiar feeling comforting her slightly. She surveyed her surrounding with dark, practiced eyes, stepping under the cool shadows of the trees in hope to hide herself from the view of unfriendly eyes. Yet even the soft rustle of the tree branches in the gentle breeze turned her tense, and often she would pause in her careful sneaking among the tree trunks, to glare suspiciously at the leafy tree tops high above her head, deeming to hear in the quiet rustle the whisper of a creeping enemy. She tried to find a path inside the seemingly endless woods, any road that might lead her to the famed city of old, though she found none. As she slashed swiftly at the undergrowth with her sword, hoping to clear her way a little, despite risking leaving a clear trail behind her, Tirwen finally pushed through the green world of plants and discovered a sight that took her breath away.

She'd been here before, obviously, near the ruins. She'd camped close to Annúminas. Though never this close. She expected to see a few crumbling stones drowning in a rushing river. What she saw was different and more wondrous beyond imagining: even after centuries of lying deserted and broken, Annúminas was more beautiful than any other view Tirwen had ever beheld.

The river was there, absolutely. Clear water engulfing remains of ships, fallen stones, and various treasures of the city which managed to find their way onto the bottom of the river. The famous Colossus of Elendil was still there, a magnificent structure in every possible way. The ancient king stood proudly over the water, his most well-known possessions tightly held in his strong hands, the symbols of his descendants decorating his robes in splendid shining silver and twinkling precious stones. He seemed to be protecting or guarding the city behind him, no less fabulous than its founder's carved likeness. Gates of heavy stone and arches engraved with runes, tall towers and gardens covered with a strange and otherworldly assortment of flowers, broad streets and paved roads - Annúminas was a powerful city like no other. The Place - the Place of Elendil - could not be described by simple words, or by any words at all, a vast collection of buildings and paths and courtyards gleaming in the light, each more amazing than the structure before it. The dazzling majesty of Annúminas struck Tirwen with so much force she forgot all about her task, and the Rangers, and evil presence she had felt earlier. She was brutally brought back to her senses by voices - voices, and the unmistakable sound of a whistling arrow.

Tirwen raced down back among the trees, heedless of the branches scratching and cutting at her cloak and skin. Someone was in danger - and she could think of nothing but saving that unfortunate person - or worse, people, judging by the many voices growing louder and louder as she neared them. She had skipped instinctively over an object lying in her path and continued running before suddenly stopping and turning around to glance at the thing she'd jumped over. She took a sharp breath and felt her eyes widening in shock. Unknowingly, she'd leaped over a body. The dead man had an arrow stuck in his head, blood pooling around him as he stared unblinkingly up at the softly-lit green leaves. Tirwen looked in horror at the body, then suddenly recognized the man's clothes and felt her feeling of horror deepening. He was clearly a Ranger. A dead Ranger. That could only mean trouble. Tirwen had arrived just in time for the fight.

The Ranger Scout turned around, trying to control an amount of nervousness and fear she'd never experienced before. She was needed here. She was sent here on a mission, and she must complete it. She now noticed more Rangers, running through the woods. Raising her sword, Tirwen followed the man who seemed to be the leader (Bregolon) as he weaved through the trees, copying his movements in hope of protecting him as she might and assisting the Rangers with the killing of their enemies as she could.

Tirwen was not the reinforcement, nor was she from the Southern Hills; but at least the Dúnedain's desperate situation had alerted someone - and that someone was prepared to help even if it meant fighting to the very death.

Ercassie
08/Jan/2017, 03:57 AM
http://i1272.photobucket.com/albums/y397/kissedbyfire1/ca7f4bb9-78d8-47e6-b149-28674097d17b_zpsg4gfqkxq.jpg

Jowan Elfor
City streets -> Kennels
Osdolen

A slow smile unfolded about the Man’s haggard jaw, enticing small embers of light in the alcoves of unseeing eyes. Jowan seemed not to take note of those snickering passersby whom Henry’s glare admonished; so fulfilled was the blind man by the sure confirmation. That he had indeed gathered attention from one inclined to converse. One who might even be so inclined to help. It was a sore trial, to be rendered of a need to beg for aid, a grown man such as he was. But at times, it proved of means to distract a soul in distress, and have them feel of use, of power, capable. Jowan needed not the use of sight to know that young Henry had a lot on mind to burden such untested shoulders.

“I may indeed have heard of you, Henry, Thandir-son” the Ranger appeared to agree with the assumption. “Although I make good practice of not always believing all that I hear.” He winked, conspiratorily, and not a little unnervingly. “I am Jowan Elfor, or I used to be. Back before people tended to allot me names based upon their ignorance. We are not all that is said of us, Henry. We are what we choose to do in spite of what they say of us.”

Jowan extended an arm, inviting direction; it was a trusting practice that he tended to reserve for his devoted daughter. He relaxed though, visibly, when the boy claimed familiarity with the kennels. Locating the canine quarters was not the problem. It was more that once he stood amongst their baying bedlam, the blind man could not distinguish any of the audible subtleties he so depended upon for right human interaction. “Animals are a keen judge of character, or so it is said,” the Ranger imparted with comfort as Henry tucked his hand in Jowan’s, leading them a conscientious passage through the streets. He could read the boy’s sorrow as though it wept with real tears upon the Man’s rough skin. “A true friend is one who speaks the truth, regardless, because that means they care more for another’s welfare than for gaining kindness in return. Dogs speak truth, and they are loyal, they are Man’s best friend. Apparently.”

Together, they two conquered the threshold of the kennels, and a waft of unmistakably dog smell assailed all their working senses. “Might be you should take yourself home a dog too, a friend,” the Ranger pretended the thought had only now occurred to him. Innocence belied his age, painting Jowan’s features with a gentle idiocy .. or the guise of such. Not only would a pet prove to be a calming companion for such a reclusive child, but “an adorable puppy is a sure draw for folks to come over and say hello,” he proposed, dangling temptation before recoiling back to his typical, disarming and seemingly role. “As long as it is a dog puppy of course,” Jowan frowned harmlessly. “You won’t let me walk out of here with a ferret or something on a string by mistake, will you ?”

It was difficult to guess if the strange little boy might laugh. Jowan tried quite often to encourage laughter in his daughter, Mirana. She was about as serious and lonely as young Henry, and he could only struggle to recall her smile at an infant age. Now she was grown. Laughter was about as much as a blind man could hope for, to tell that someone he cared about was happy. He wished that he could see his daughter as she stood, just once. It needn't be for very long at all. Just long enough to grasp the precious image and to treasure it away for all time after. Times now and then, deep at night, the sightless Ranger lay in bed and concentrated hard, trying to blend the memory of little Mirana's face .. with the keepsake portrait of his lost wife, Estrella; whose soft rounded features hung in the gallery of his heart.

Every night it was the same however. All too soon he would misplace the fair features of his fine Estrella, until all that he could wrest from the fogs of confounding focus was one very certain image. A curled twist of stone, bent over on itself like an unsightly, overgrown long nail, black in hue as is the coldest winter chill; it was nestled tight within the gnarled talons of a crow's wire foot, bound in human hair, and studded with macabre decoration of discarded teeth. The horrific talisman twirled on a pendant, and a windless pirouette. Round and round until it made Jowan sit up in his bed sheets, and tear forlornly at his face. As though those same talons were driven, relentless, into the gaping sockets of his eyes.

But that of course was crazy .. The Ranger startled, relaxing the grip which he had tightened, frightened, about Henry's smaller hand. 'Sorry' seemed to be less than enough, for he had even scared himself. So Jowan simply said nothing, and welcomed the return of dog-speech that won back his full notice. "Sounds .. It sounds as though a many dogs," he hauled his mind back to things which made sense.

Ercassie
23/Jan/2017, 05:32 AM
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Mirana Elforiel and Gwandhyra Harion
Camp ->> Annúminas

Consciousness soaked through the Ranger’s bones as he picked himself off the hard terrain that had proven sore rest. Tucking into a crouch to arouse protesting muscles, he was not at all surprised to find that his young cousin was already clear awake. Mirana afforded him a scrutinising glance as she shook her long ebony tresses to freedom. There was no hint of vanity in the motion, but a need to conform to standards in presence of her fellows. Fingers half numb from the cold thus wove without romanticised luxury through the thick braid and dispelled all small scruffs before restraining a neat and practical knot. Her kinsman rubbed his tawny eyes and evaded Ana’s first predatory lunge, only to succumb to her sharp discard of small stones from his own straggle of mane. Quite how all the small stones had assembled in his locks was a mystery; and the only clue that the fair elleth Nyarane was seeming to restrain her mirth.

She of course remained a vision but as keen as Gwandhyra found himself to behold her, a dream not dissolved with the coming of day, he was equally as glad of heart to find the plucky mortal, Ann Kalagon was yet here also. A brief stare in the direction of Gwendolin Elders might have labelled his lack of recall. But his cousin was already elbowing the Man into attending to Khallador’s address. The Lieutenant’s words were of a sort to haul all present from the residues of rest, although there was a piece of them that Gwandhyra might allot to some nightmare. From the grim and assaulted expressions which abounded, he was not alone in his melancholy.


The dredging discomfort tailed their trek even to Annúminas; a feat of legend that Harion had not known the chance to revere ever until now. Though the former glory of the legend squatted, half-submerged in frigid lake, the astounding monument did not falter in resurrecting pride, even twinned with silent grief. Their meagre procession chased the paths of ancient predecessors, conjuring a sacred majesty staggered in waves of loss and love alternately. The Southerner brought lips to speech some countless times, meaning to interrogate his fellows, particularly the Immortal and the archaeologist, for their insight of history exhumed. But Ana clutched her cousin’s arm in desperate restraint and her wide eyes held his to still. As though to utter voice here might break the spell that allowed them passage through the living past.


Ana kept her breathing measured as the wild theories which had seemed half-baked in nonsense suddenly appeared far more felicitous within such hallowed ground. She had tolerated the retelling of the recent wild streams of rumour which had flavoured their camp since the get go, frenzied panic she had categorised such; bourne of half-mad accounts out of hostile Angmar. Whatever the Rangers and the Elves had experienced in the cruel north, months past, this sensible young woman was content to condemn as paranoia carved and conceived from their fear, driven by harsh climate and the hopelessness of assailing a skeleton of stone-swollen shadows. She had rebelled in the arms of disappointment to observe how Khallador would actually humour such delusions, even if it was the unspoken point of this ‘mission’ to disprove and dissolve such absurdity that might else contaminate all common sense.

Hunched in her swaddles of cloak, the woman tightened a desperate hold about her crossbow. An anchor to hold her to recall the real world. She was tempted to allow her cousin to demand a tell of evidence from Gwen, since that messenger was heralded as harbinger of the very threat that Ana doubted. But the more that she considered and carefully calculated, the young Ranger could not raise her words out of the recesses of apprehension. That Khallador had proclaimed a most unlikely foe, and gone so far to provide example of it’s authenticity … the unsettling coincidence was not a thought so easily discarded.


The exchange with that sorry small lot of Wardens only further symbolised the sense that they were labouring beyond the means of their control. Here, in the garden of their own almighty legend, the remnants of the Northern Dunedain were a small bedraggled crew of beggars, tacking cautious progress through the streets they ought to conquer with the colourful tall columns of regal, high-mounted soldiers. Mirana shivered along with the creaking of her little boat, and felt a fraud to showcase this ruin to her invading kinsman. What he spoke of Gondor, she could scarce even imagine now Arnor. Helchon bore the brunt of her taut nerves, in response to his ill-planned try to raise her humour. Whereas another, her cousin for a one, might have merely shook his head, and raised a half-laugh at the startled ‘BOO !’, Mirana sowed an unimpressed stare deep into the jester, as he tumbled playfully in joke.

“You think it wise to startle an armed Ranger, on alarm ?” she challenged, stonily. Ignoring the hand he proffered to allow her aide him back to feet, she instead awaited that he manage it alone. And then planted her fist into his nose, seeing him back onto his behind. “It is really not,” she observed, needlessly, and turned fast diving unto dingy darkness of the vacant halls. Her stride far exceeding her height’s allowance, driven by annoyance. At him, at this whole situation. At the fact that this might actually turn out to be a true situation. Her practical mind could not yet reason quite what she might do if that should be the case. Behind her, Gwandhyra waved his apologies toward a startled Helchon. He had never seen the woman this on edge.


The stranger, .. never had a woman better owned the title strange. For as eerily beautiful that the ‘Witchqueen’ stood, still she was in equal measure unnerving. And not even the astounded Gondorian could allow himself to enjoy her grace. The elegant swagger of the woman was not unlike the rattle of a poisonous snake, and it would not do to indulge the lure toward disarmament. His kinswoman was no thrall to things of wonder. In the moment that Ana readied a bolt and asked Khallador for “Permission to shoot the hostile party ?”, .. the bold move was answered by another, as they and all their company were seen from that place where they each stood.

Outside, Mirana yearned to assign her fury at the plummeting force that banished their party, hoped with all her heart she might exclaim somebody dragged her from behind. Yet the unavoidable truth of the matter was the punch which yet felt in her stomach. Rangers all about expressed their marvel at the child who had ‘rescued’ them. Rescue though, .. that word did not fit neatly into the sentiment Ana endured. She had never felt so violated. Consciously, she rubbed at her stomach seeking out some evidence that made right sense. Her cousin was forced to recover her to both feet, and still she pushed away from his assistance, as though she now could not trust any force that compelled her without say so.

Gwandhyra did not have words to bid her before he met Ann Kalagon’s sprint toward the staircase. Staving off his chagrin at Bregolon branding him an ‘old man’, the Ranger grit his teeth and readied to showcase a competency that would bite back at the impetuous youth. If Bregolon were not outright killed by that time. The Southerner may have bested the Warden where it came to years spent, but in honesty, that meant he had long since passed the days of recklessness that had nearly seen end to him in years of immaturity.

“Together,” he offered what he hoped was a reassuring smile toward the woodswoman at his side. And tried to not fret of his cousin who had fallen to Khallador’s wake. The stairs to the tower beckoned.

Mirana had not taken to the lieutenant's heels from some urgent grasp of evidence at hand. She but held to the only thing that made empirical sense to her. The right of order. The hierarchy of command. She followed him, not because she believed him, even now, but because she had vowed to do what the lieutenant said, disregarding what she personally believed. This was why they had leaders. If everybody merely did as he or she believed correct, there would be anarchy. Anarchy she despised with a greater passion than uncertainty.





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Drest Stoneclaw
Catacombs of the Palace
Annúminas


Drest was an apostle of anarchy. Drest lurked in the inky catacombs seeking his Queen’s desire. The wily sorcerer trod the unseen depths of that dark expanse like a shark concealed by unnatural shifts of impenetrable shadow. He possessed the sight of two men, and required no torch to hunt his ambition. Those Rangers now pouring into the arcane-infested night would not see him until they illuminated the haunting chamber. They would not see him before he saw them. They would tumble into his reach, before ever they knew their peril.

Drest laid a gaunt hand about the macabre talisman that swung from his goose-hung folds of his loose throat. Strands of hair strew about the foul token, teeth and nail impaled the hard curl of that rock talon. All he needed was a piece of any who got too close, and they would become a piece of him. For ever after …

In the darkness, in the deep silence of fell anticipation. In the catacombs, he lurked. They were coming to him, to the slaughter. All he had to do was wait …

Lantaelen
24/Jan/2017, 10:43 PM
Mithôneth, amateur Ranger
Annúminas, Eriador


I am a Ranger of the North, defender of the realms of Eriador. I am the guardian of the wilderness and the shield of the innocent. At all times I will speak the truth and to fight for the welfare of all, to live by honor and glory and to obey those places in authority. Preserving to the end of any enterprise begun, supporting my fellow Watchers in the battles we fight. I am a Ranger of the North and I pledge myself in service of the Heir of Isildur this day and for all my days to come.
- The Code

Keep your head down. Listen to your seniors. Relax your bow-arm when shooting. Don’t rush. Keep your head down. Listen to your seniors. Relax… Over and over, Mithôneth repeated this mantra to herself. She had said it so much that it became a measure of counting time even. Twenty seconds to state, three times to repeat to make a minute, one hundred and eighty for an hour and so forth. Irrelevant, her brother would tell her, but for Mithôneth it was a matter of life or death. It was the only thing that helped keep the fear at bay, other than grasping the unfamiliar hardness of steel or the more welcomed touch of wood in her hand.

Remorse and sorrow had always been useless commodities to possess. It took up time. It drained one’s energy. It marred their spirit. Mithôneth knew this and knew she needed something occupy her days. The Rangers had always been a fluttering choice, a venture to undertake, one that could keep her mind and efforts occupied. Her brother was one. Her father had been one. Her late husband too and both her ancestors and his. Why not become one? Because of situations like this, thrust into an environment you are not ready for, to do things you were simply not born for.

Such as the killing of living things.

Why she had volunteered for this assignation, barely having completed any training, Mithôneth was now starting to ponder and doubt herself. And she cursed herself for such thoughts, distracting herself when greater evils were about. She didn’t understand what was happening, this quest to reclaim magic swords and such, to stop an attack by wicked folk. But she knew at least that her people were in danger and she ought to do her part. Yes, that is why I came. Now keep your head down. Listen to your seniors. Relax your bow-arm when shooting. Don’t rush. Keep your…

This entire debacle had more excitement, fear, and traveling than she had ever done in her short life. And if it were to end here, she would be glad to some extent, though that was little comfort against the fear. Not of death, but of dying. And there were always worse fates than death. She had been warned more than once by folk back home what might happen to a young woman taken prisoner in combat. She vowed to not be one of those. Relax your bow-arm when shooting. Don’t rush. Keep your head down.

Everything was one big jumble from the beginning, but now it seemed to be in real danger of falling apart, their lives with them. Inside the court, they had been assailed by witches, something Mithôneth thought only existed in the old stories and tales. Before she could even react, much slower in instincts than her fellow Rangers, she was hurled out of the Palace and was still in a daze since. If handling bandits and robbers was something she could barely measure up for, what chance did she have against opponents such as these?

When the group split up, Mithôneth had selected to go with Bregolon. Not out of cowardly intentions, but more logical. Against witches she would only be kindle and fodder. At least she stood a chance on the outside, or perhaps up in a tower where she could shoot from a vantage point. They didn’t even make it near, as one Ranger was shot clean through his skull with a crossbow. Mithôneth almost froze up in fear at the sight, before darting off to cover behind the others, her cloak fluttering behind her. She had her bow in hand, but despite her repeated mantra she was too tensed up.

She had not spoken much, or at all, with the companions around her now. There was an older man, from the South, whom frankly frightened young Mithôneth to a degree with his experience. His name was Gwandhrya, she recalled, having learned a plethora of them in a short time and was still trying to accustom herself with them to faces. There were two other women, Ann Kalagon, who espoused a great deal more confidence that Mithôneth could only dream of, and a much more serious one, Mirana. The fourth, also a female, was an elf, fair and terrible in her wrath, whom she remembered as being named Nyarane. Another had joined them, a Ranger, coming out of the blue to reinforce them, which gave Mithôneth some heart. They were not entirely alone, which was always good to know and soon they would be joined by others, it was said.

She had not been assigned any orders, neither to storm the tower nor to seek out the enemy. No doubt with good reason, given her inexperience and amateur fighting skills. She supposed then that her duty now was to provide cover against those who fired upon them, with bolt and projectile, to avenger her fallen comrade and ensure no more fell beside him. She took a deep breath and huffed, nocking an arrow to her bowstring and drawing it back somewhat with her fingers. Keep your head down. Listen to your seniors. Relax your bow-arm when shooting. Don’t rush.

She failed all of those things when she peeked out from cover, scanned the horizon with a head held high, raised her bow arm and drew the arrow back, her arm rigid and tense. Barely two heartbeats later, before even seeing anything, for fear of exposure flung her back, she loosed her arrow. Even if the foe had been a few feet away she would probably have missed, but her arrow shot into the distance where she deemed the foe was. Though in doing so, missing completely, perhaps she would draw their attentions away from the Rangers racing ahead and direct a shot of the enemy unto herself.

Aranadhel
10/Feb/2017, 10:34 AM
Nyarane
Rivendell Guard

Kicking the Door

Annuminas

Present~

Nyarane's stomach growled. The elleth was famished. Hungry beyond belief. Her body was weak. She feels it in her immortal bones. Only her endurance kept her on her toes. She could not concentrate. As the arrows flew from her quiver and screams of pain answered every twang of her bow. She did not care.

~Previous day~

She was glad when the orders came to march towards Annuminas. The Elf thought there would be food to salvage or dug from the earth or plucked from the bushes. Neither was there any to find during their trek and none also at the ruins of old. When the Dunedain took their rest and sleep she stood guard and watched for foes. She would have welcomed the sight of Iairwain inviting her for tea at his place but it was wishful thinking at best.

Present~

Her fingers groped thin air as she reached for her arrows and when there was none left Rane climbed up the stairs and upon reaching the top she saw Gwandhyra et al standing before a door. Without hesitation the elleth charged and kicked the door which splitted in two and without breaking a sweat she quickly scanned the room for hostiles and finding none quickly urged the Dunedain to finish their task at hand.

Rane then walked back out towards the top of the stairs and unsheathed her sword and stood her ground.

~Previous day~

The Elf had found it disturbing to the core at the eerie silence that had accompanied the company from Fornost to Annuminas. Where once stood lush orchards and farmlands now it felt like an overgrown cemetary. She had remembered coming to Elendil's dwelling back in the Second Age but this was just beyond horror. The Enemy had done well to exterminate every trace of the Numenorean heritage.

Present~

Their company had broken in two when the bandits had appeared seemingly choreographed and timed to perfection to lay waste to the newcomers. Rane had welcomed their blemished presence with the swiftest way to meet Mandos. Bandits were no match for an Elf but she dared not jest of this with the Dunedain. She knew that her presence boosted their morale by fighting to the death even though it helplessly paled in comparison to the battles of old. Her thoughts on this skirmish to seize the weapons of old made little sense but if it could bring an advantage for the Dunedain in the future then so be it. Rane gripped the pommel of her sword tighter as she now focused on what was waiting for them downstairs.

Ankala Teaweed
21/Feb/2017, 01:16 AM
Ann Kalagon
Ranger Recruit
Annuminas

With Gwandhyra tight on her heels, Ann heard him say “Together!” as they ran to the staircase and she led them up, initially vaulting two steps at a time. If she had understood their circumstances, and from what they had just seen, they faced a power beyond her ken. Yet here they were and she was ordered to ring a great bronze bell atop this climb to bring reinforcements of Rangers. And then, assist Gwandhyra to carry out as much as they could of the weapons cache they expected to find here.

In a little door in the back of her brain, it occurred to her she did not even yet have a sheath for her newly-acquired, and unbelievably historic and significant, sword Vardalimë. Indeed, there was a question trying to brew up into her conscious thoughts about its possibly being warded against such evil magics as the terrifying Coven of Rhudaur might present, though she had no way of knowing anything yet about how to use it. “Sheath” was the word that her thought processes sent forward, and she let it lie there as she focused on her balance moving up and up and up and up. She kept her eyes peeled for any figures above for she would quickly use her trusty woodsman poison blowpipe to take out; she had one small advantage in that her own rustic weapon was not something known much outside her village life. And it was fast and deadly.

They climbed and climbed. There! She did see a head peaking over the stairs at one point a couple of floors above them. She smoothly pulled her blowpipe from her waistband and let fly two poison darts. Both connected, no surprise. The head went down and she continued to run up the stairs. Gwandhyra paced her at her heels, followed by a small handful of others. Three more flights they climbed after passing a body at one level; dropped by Mirkwood dart poisons, its head was turning a bright shade of purple and bloating.

They reached the top of the staircase. Suddenly the elleth behind them flew forward and kicked down a door at the top level, split it in two and led the charge into the room revealed there.

At the far side, there was an opening shaft with a ladder entry. Ann ran to it and looked up, finding the great bronze bell within and above a good 20 feet farther up. It was a mighty thing and wide as well. She grasped the ladder rails and climbed into the shaft to reach the great bell in its bell tower. There was a lever to the side which she then grabbed and began to pull down. The great bell tolled so loudly her head rang too. But no time to think. Ring the bell! She felt the great bell's sounds ringing through her bones.

Ann Kalagon rang the bell several times and then, head ringing from the deep resonance, glanced down and came down the ladder to rejoin Gwandhyra, the elleth Rane, and the others. Had they found the cache? Was that it they were huddled about below?

Ercassie
20/Mar/2017, 12:43 AM
‘Trembling he looked up, in time to see a tall dark figure like a shadow against the stars. It leaned over him. He thought there were two eyes, very cold though lit with a pale light that seemed to come from some remote distance. Then a grip stronger and colder than iron seized him. The icy touch froze his bones … he noticed all at once that the darkness was slowly giving way: a pale greenish light was growing round him. …

Suddenly a song began: a cold murmur, rising and falling. The voice seemed far away and immeasurably dreary, sometimes high in the air and thin, sometimes like a low moan from the ground. Out of the formless stream of sad but horrible sounds, strings of words would now and again shape themselves: grim, hard, cold words, heartless and miserable. The night was railing against the morning of which it was bereaved, and the cold was cursing the warmth for which it hungered.’

(Fog on the Barrow Downs, FOTR)



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Mirana Elforiel and Drest Stoneclaw
Palace Catacombs


Darkness snagged their intrusion from the get go, swallowing the small party of Rangers whole. Cast adrift in the frigid blind sea, each man or woman knew the slow cold which seeped through cloth, and armour alike. Reaches of an inescapable draught shrieked about their ears, tearing swiftly like the snatch of half-heard whispers. Cloaks were whipped as though hands dragged hungrily at their hems. Hoods were torn from head. Torches which had been bourne unto the deepness, were soon robbed of light and warmth. The Rangers also ..

No sooner had the last of Khallador's party cleared their entrance, then that fold of dark wooden trapdoor slapped brutally upon it’s hinges and fell still. Their exit absorbed into the shadow, leaving behind it, only the mocking echoes of that last abrupt explosion. The jagged intake of breath betrayed Mirana's panic, though she was no craven, and drummed out a tattoo of reason within her heart. It is cold and dark, naught more, she reasoned. And that much she could reckon with. But there gnawed in her heart more than a nagging concern, that they were trespassing here on hallowed ground. She liked it not.

"Akallabi agannalu anaduni. Azgara katha karan !"

The words were not hers. Each unsettling syllable slithered out of silence to dissolve the Woman’s courage. And then the familial unease of nothing resumed. As though there had not been words at all. Except ... Except that something had been summoned ! And no sense or reason would see it back to slumber. Veiled in the mantle of gloom, Drest rubbed his hands together, and waited for the arena to come alive. For the dead to come alive, as much as they might be able …


Her imagination was an aspect that Ana had little exercised throughout her life. But even she could not deny the sinister, phospherant steam that rose up in a lambent rug. Against the inky stain of non-light, that haunting green glimmer became more and more apparent, rolling in great ripples along the uneven walls, like captive clouds, clawing for escape. A hand fell to rest about the Woman's slender shoulder, and she readied to give Helchon a reprise of her earlier mood. It was not Helchon. Which was well in truth, because the angle and the force at which she twisted the invasive wrist saw it come loose in her hand. Quite apart from the arm to which it should remain attached ... A scream scrambled around Mirana's throat, and the stale air dried out her tongue. A hoarse gargle was all the alarm that she achieved aloud. And then a pair of hollow eye sockets, lit with that same noxious green fog, cast a vile shadow over the baleful countenance of what was not Helchon.

The dead walked among them ! The dead were arisen ! The dead did not seem at all agreeable to having been disturbed. A swarm of spectral, animated skeletons closed in upon the Rangers, hissing, gasping. Draped still in the trembles of eroded robes, gilded by long rusting armour, and bearing great wands of gleaming steel .... Death sticks prised from their long worn pockets of leather. And brandished, as though an eerie thicket of some spectral wood. A forest of cold torches, of burning green ice, all stark and bleak in their unnerving glow; as bone itself raised from inertion to some twisted lie of life.

Swathed beyond the throng of the unnatural sentinels, Drest took little time to survey his foul exhumation. He was busied, making good use of his enhanced eyesight, to poke about the far corners of the chamber. The dismayed cries and gasps of the Rangers played a tune that he danced fingers to, along the lid of a great casket. This was no coffin of Men but rather, he soon realised, this was his intended trophy ! With a smothered snigger, he laid his hands upon the pooled black of the metal, looking for the best means to steal it away.

His departure must be swift ! For the initial horror of his art would soon be realised as little real threat. What is dead, after all, can not bleed. But dry bones can be crushed, battered and ground unto dust. Several of the Rangers had already come to this sensible conclusion, hurling themselves against the arisen armour, and the foul fog that created animation, beyond sense. Still Drest’s game was meant to leave his enemies mostover fraught with terror, and shock. Those whom did not raise their tools to strike down the illustrious debris of their forefathers would and could be killed. For the swords bourne by noxious smoking skeletons were sharp enough still to rent and to pierce through flesh. But the ghouls were by no means indestructible. Bones shatter, and break. If the hand which stalls their onslaught be led by valiant heart.

They granted him time though. The sorceror hauled his precious prize beyond a vast, dust-ridden wall hanging. Complacent enough of this headstart, he drew his dragging self (and the weighty chest) up the narrow, winding stairs. Finally he tumbled out of the secret passage back into the throne room, and there he was bent double before Aura, his twisted beard sweeping nigh the floor, as he caught his breath. In rising, he snapped off the lever of his escape door at its neck. That way to the dread and doom below would not be opened any time soon.

"This was your desire," he swung his rickety form upright, winked at the little Princess, Aileen, and patted the sturdy, pitch-hued chest. "The dead seek even now to swell their ranks and build up new bones throughout all the catacombs. None shall see an escape from thereabouts, as was your direction." He voiced a prompt for his capricious monarch to realise his hard work.

It was a shame that he was not privy to Aileen's uncanny insight. That Khallador, kinsman to Beren Camlost was entombed in what would possibly be his own crypt. And all his group alike. If they could not best the wretched conjured wraiths of Annúminas.

Troigan
31/Mar/2017, 09:36 PM
Thairrim
On the Lookout



Sitting up high on a lowly parapet, Thairrim stands on lookout duty. The boy gazes off into the horizon, bored, hungry, and frustrated; he was also thinking, thinking of thoughts that question his place among the people of Angmar and why he ever wanted to fight in the first place. Tharrim grew colder, not just from the winds of the north but in conscience at that, indeed he was starting to grow ill, feeling nothing but a brooding spite; but could this possibly be the spirit of Angmar finally beginning to take hold on his mind...?!

All Thairrim could think of was Angmar, It's armies, it's people, it's kingdom in Carn-Dûm... and Drest ​and his followers.

Ercassie
02/Apr/2017, 05:26 PM
’There's a humming in the restless summer air
And we're slipping off the course that we prepared
But in all chaos, there is calculation
Dropping glasses just to hear them break
You've been drinking like the world was gonna end (it didn't) ..

And the cry goes out
They lose their minds for us, and how it plays out
Now we're in the ring and we're coming for blood
You could try and take us
But we're the gladiators ..

Glory and gore go hand in hand
That's why we're making headlines
You could try and take us
But victory's contagious ..’

(Glory and Gore, Lordes)


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Shytha and Gwandhyra Harion
Northeast Watchtower


Her eyes were chasms, gaping gloomy holes that if you gazed too long upon, you’d swear that you felt a cold hand close about your still beating heart. That faint thump in your chest would throb, enflamed by a frosty inferno until all the beats buzzed like a single swarm. And your head would spin. Your heels would scrape the earth, as you reeled, without brake, toward the deadly precipice and the promise of falling, unto darkness; ever after. That was what it felt like to gaze unto the black fire of her eyes.

Shytha found it somewhat thus frustrating, that not a one of the Rangers was lending her their attention. They flocked and fanned in various directions down upon the ground. Like sifting specks of sand that ride the wind, so arbitrary. The madness she could nigh appreciate. That pleasing absence of peace, calm and order appealed to her. She a one who could not pass a banquet laid, without rocking the table.

Still the ants had rallied toward her high seat, at first. All those below, driven by their own will to embrace a sure death. The watchtower was full of bandits, with crossbows. Their stench choked the rose-bricked chimney and the first of their bolts’ cruel flight should have hastened the folly of Rangers unto taking shelter swift, and all, inside the very trap that was set to receive them. She would see the great door bang to close behind them, and have all accounted for. She could bask in the screams which would have echoed up the convoluted climb of the wound staircase. The sound would have bled against her ears like the kiss of silk.

But, instead, one lone Man broke away from their intended course. Shytha’s eyes narrowed in her watch to thin slits of displeasure. Still malice for that fool scrambled over the remaining fissures, to ooze out menacingly on that she observed. If she could but aim her wrath upon Bregolon alone, that man should have keeled over, stung by a stiletto shaft of penetrating hate. Like the slap of an enraged wind. But no, the lone prey first doubled, and then trebled his presence within the treeline. Shytha[/]’s gaze was split, and in each division dissolved some. The cold chill she ought to have sent out in waves to numb one Man down to his knees … it was rendered to confusion and indecision. And came to naught but a hissing whisper.

[B]Tirwen and Mithôneth may have come upon the escapade belated, but their numbers managed to mislead both Shytha and the snipers shooting from the tower. So the very real chance was realised; that some of the Rangers had evaded the device of their mass demise. The great folds of her vast shadow fidgeted, as though ruffled feathers (though she wore naught so soft on her person). Dark eyes raised up to the heavens and retched out a vile storm of fury. A sharp scream that split the sky. And then she ascended from her lofty perch, dislodging in doing so, some ancient stone of the ramparts where her foul talons departed. She loitered, a lonely rain cloud, before launching herself at the gathering of trees. At the point where she ought to have struck a certain great trunk of wood, she separated, like shadow or sunlight through a thicket. The clamor of a great many crows erupted from her violent pursuit, dogging the three Rangers through the woods, as though an aerial army was upon their heels. Her aim, to dispel the three from their baiting shelter, and force them with her banshee screeching back within the range of the tower's bandits with crossbows.

Meanwhile, Gwandhyra had no time to wonder how the weighty door groaned behind them, to block their entrance, and/or escape from the watchtower. Moments only were allowed them, before the first of a peppering, of peering faces, pooled over the bannisters above. None were a match for the precision though, of Ann Kalagon’s blow pipe and darts ! The Man awarded the woodswoman a script of approval from where he walked, before her; the Elf maid Nyarane guarding their rear.

Those bandit bodies which plummeted, some wailing, soon found cracked spines over steep stone steps. They scarcely required the Man to waken ‘Reaper’ from the worn and battered scabbard which veiled the ancient blade. Still the sword slunk begrudgingly from slumber, and sank into each of the now contorted remains. Bandits falling like dead leaves to cloy in a carpet of loose limbs, and marr the rising climb. Gwandhyra opened their throats, so that the garnet tide of blood might sluice free and fall in a curtain to conceal the poisoned and bulging features Ann’s poison had sculpted. It had absolutely naught to do with the fact of his being a man, and wanting to play a part in the work of the womanfolk, both able, and at hand ..


Readying with gusto to kick down the door at the top of the staircase, Gwandhyra left a pause before he released his charge. In that short time, Nyarane had cast down the mighty barricade herself. And the Man could not help but smile. So keen was the Elleth to show all she was more than fair and fine. She was fearsome ! And the Ranger was blessed to be in the company of two so capable females. Ann took to her task without needing to be told and saw the high bell sing it’s story. That bronze rumble rolled through the air like a mountain’s growl, even as the woman began to clamber back down to safeguard her hearing. Nyarane was already at the broken door, watchful and alert for any bandit that might rise against all odds now to assail them. Gwandhyra laughed aloud.

“We did it !” he astounded, catching his breath some, and affording the time to inspect their surroundings. The observation deck was paved, and the bell tower above was held aloft by five great stone statues of almighty eagles. Harion circled the small span of the open-air room, revelling in the whistle of wind that cast his dark hair in refreshing whip from the skin of sweat at his neck. “Now,” he sheathed his sword and scratched his chin. “Where is that we came seeking to locate ?”

In no time at all, he staggered with one boot over a raised square in the pattern of flagstones underfoot. Catching balance, the Ranger glanced down to scrutinise that which would rob him of his dignity. Then looked a second time, and closer. There were three such raised squares of stone which he might trip over. One for each of the three provinces of Arnor. As though he had been taught all his life to expect this, the Ranger stepped, first on one, and then with his second boot upon another. Rather than bend down, he retrieved his sword of old, held it gravely before him as though speaking silent prayer that this prove true; he lowered it and leant heavily upon it, and upon the third mystery.

Against the ringing of bells from above, there came a grumble of answer from the tower below. As a mound rose, on some ancient leverage, until a square stone altar stood between the marvelling trio. Gwandhyra threw eyes toward Ann and then Nyarane. And then he heaved aside what looked to be the lid of a squat sarcophagus. The slow grate belched small streams of grit and powder, easing away the dirt and dust of those countless years it had been undisturbed. And there, exposed as though an opened wound, there sat within the stone well a black box. Of some metal that Gwandhyra could not name.

“We did it,” he recognised, and took a step back, almost fearfully at quite what he had just unearthed. And the man who was never short of words, was struck dumb. His brown eyes raved all the wonder that he could not profess in any less raw a language. They had done it. They had found what they had come for.


The peeling of bells was what stole Shytha back from her relentless hunt, swooping and clawing at the Rangers in the woods still. The song of the mighty steel broke her ears and fragmented her thoughts until she could bear it no longer. Her horrendous bird form reeled away from the trees and injected the clouds, where she sought refuge.

“The bells ! The bells !” she screeched her horror and it echoed through the skull of Thairrim; even as she reared up past him, a great kite of lightless leather and sharp claws, scratching her purchase into greater height. “Warn the Witchqueen ! Run and tell her ! Our Foes all are summoned here ! The Bell of Annúminas is awoke !”

Troigan
04/Apr/2017, 04:22 AM
Thairrim
Northern Watchtower


Thairrim leapt back in shock at the commotion and the sight of Shytha in her avian form, screeching loudly to his face. He crawled back then scurried like a stray dog until he ran down the stairs, and he continued running, calling for the Queen.

Ran down yelping, calling out for the queen, stumbling a couple times along the way. Until at last he we found his way to the palace, knocking at the door shouting. "Bells... Mad Bird Woman... Enemies!"

Lantaelen
05/Apr/2017, 09:15 PM
Mithôneth, amateur Ranger
Annúminas, Eriador.
Near the Northeast Tower.

Keep your head down. Listen to your seniors. Relax your bow-arm when shooting. Don’t rush…

How many times had she repeated the mantra? Was it working? Her head was down, or at least protected, as she was still clearly thinking and feeling still. There were no senior rangers about, all caught up in pursuing objectives or skirmishes. Her arm was tense, unable to relax itself with all the excitement of battle, the fear of injury or death, or the more frightening prospect of capture. Mithôneth was starting to regret in some recess of her mind whether she was really cut out for this. She was not tough as nails as her brother was. Was she truly fated for a life of mending fabrics and nets, gathering berries and herbs, and waiting aimlessly for adventure to come to her, if it ever did? That was not the life she desired.

But was this any better? Death could come at any second. Being wounded seemed a more terrible fate. The prospect of these horrendous outcomes weighed on her mind, paralyzing her actions little by little.

She might have the courage of her kin, but certainly not the skill or dour handedness that they possessed. She felt like fodder to the unseen bandits who had her pinned down. Already the tree which she hid behind was plucked with feathered bolts and not a few in the ground near to her feet. She glanced at them, noting how many of the shafts were sunken into the soft earth more than half or even up to the feathered ends. What would it be like if it had struck human flesh? Her own bow seemed relatively underpowered compared to it, yet with as much of a tireless appearance she could muster, Mithôneth notched another arrow to her string and glanced out, trying to locate a target to fire at.

And then she heard the screech, seeming to sound from high up while echoing throughout her own chest and mind. It froze her, causing her to gasp, separating her bow and arrow as her hands broke apart, coming up half way to grip her ears in pain as her eyes jutted up to the sky. The sound was mind-numbing and tantalizing, like the sound of some great beast or bird. Yet what Mithôneth saw was no creature of the Earth which she knew or could recognize. And once she glimpsed even its shadow, swooping across the forest floor like a stalking predator, she hid herself as best she could. It was hunting, hunting for her comrades, for her even. A part of her told her to keep hiding, like before with the witches. It was not cowardice, she tried to tell herself. Only rational thinking. What could she do to such a beast, except fill its belly?

She ought to try at least, no?

And try she did, once what seemed like the rush of a mountain gale passed over or by her. Glancing around with a measure of shame at her initial reaction of fear, she tried to ignore the bandits she was battling with to catch a glimpse of the winged creature again. It seemed almost…manlike. Womanlike, even. But ever were the devices and creatures of the darkness nothing more than imitation, not innovation. It was evil, she knew that enough. And she ought to try and quell it, if she could. Notching the arrow slowly, her eyes followed the winged creature, feeling a growing urge not to do this but to hide instead. Perhaps had its effect been focused solely upon Mithôneth, she might have fell to her knees and groveled in outright fear, like a cornered doe. But fortunately it was not. And fortunately for once, her arm was steady as she raised the bow, pulling the string back to her jawline, arm stretched out. She had only a few heartbeats before she was spotted and shot at…

Her shot went wild, speeding off high over the creature’s wing, perhaps accomplishing nothing more than garnering its attention towards a weaker and more exposed foe beneath. Mithôneth sank back against the tree, knowing it had pricked the beast’s fury and would now face its wrath. Yet instead of a brutalizing death, she heard…bells. Bells ringing. Bells clanking. If she had ever heard a music that was fair in all her life, it would be the bells in that moment. They had made it to the top! And looking out, she saw the winged woman veering off and screeching her own fear. Mithôneth thought she heard something else. Warn the…who?

It would be something to report to her seniors, if she ever saw them again. For now, she notched another arrow and tried to espy a target.

Beren Camlost
10/Jun/2017, 07:50 AM
http://i1272.photobucket.com/albums/y397/kissedbyfire1/742fac33-9b03-4e79-9805-554720f39634_zps2zk8ldno.jpg http://i1080.photobucket.com/albums/j334/Winterwolf27/Icons/Ranger%20Icons/ArnorianRangerRank6Captain.png

Bree, Days Later


"And then what happened?" asked Luthon, the Ranger captain who sat across from Khallador Galerida in the Inn of the Prancing Pony. He was a hard-bodied, scruffy man with olive skin and a collected demeanor. He was a respected, masterful leader among the Dúnedain; even Khallador deferred to him.

"The sorcerers fled," explained Osdolen's lieutenant, giving Fern Hollow a gold mark for her tip. He finished his meal and was just about ready to leave so he could meet Miranda Lynn Clementine before nightfall; she was Beren's pregnant girlfriend and a Combe Valley author. Luthon ordered more food and another beverage. He was a strange fellow, a teetotaller; he never drank alcohol or even juice, always water or tea (and he didn't put sugar in it, ever). "The bell rang, alerting the Rangers in the southern hills to our presence. Faced with our reinforcements, the mages vacated the ruins immediately. I expect we haven't seen the last of them."

"No, surely not," agreed Luthon gravely, spreading honey Staddle butter over a piping hot cheddar biscuit. "We've already been acquainted with Amarthel and Jadis. Now, Aura. There's been no reports from Lond Daer for a while. It's a good thing we have been looking for the hidden caches across Eriador for several months but it worries me that the Morgul-users escaped with some ancient weapons our people once enchanted." All discovered by the Rangers were being stocked beneath Osdolen and in a secret place only Luthon, Strider, and the Wise knew about.

"We can't spare the Rangers to investigate the silence of the harbor, I think." He chugged his Dry Stout and mused over the issue for a few moments in grim thought. "I'll ask Strider if we could request help from the Gryphon Battalion."

Luthon nodded absently, drinking his steaming peppermint tea.

"I have to go," said Khallador rising up from their corner table. "Going anywhere interesting soon, mate?" he asked, fitting on his beloved green cockle hat.

"I will store the swords and bracelets you found in Annúminas somewhere safe," Luthon replied and blew on his tea before continuing. "I must speak with Vincent and Shelley, my son and daughter, in Archet, too." He drank his tea deeply, knitting his brow. "We must have a very long discussion."

"Since you've been in the Misty Mountains for so long," Khallador supposed.

Luthon said nothing, just smiled. He was a reserved man of very few words.

"Take care of yourself, old-timer," said Khallador, tipping the brim of his hat towards the company commander's direction before walking toward the inn's front entrance.

"Enjoy your vacation, Galerida," Luthon warmly responded, waving farewell.


THE END

I'm sorry. I beginning to bring an ubrupt end to my long-running
sorcery arc in Eriador; finishing Ost-Halatir is next. I will continue
writing for the Coven in my upcoming RP thread, Castles in the Sky,
in the Cottage of Lost Play's Written Arts fora soon. I will write
the Revenge of Rhudaur story there solely by myself; my sincerest apologies
but I feel this is for the best. Thanks, everyone, who wrote here.

A new Osdolen activity will appear shortly. It will have no theme just like ones prior.
I will serve as its threadrunner but I won't be doing very much. I'll be there as Khallador
only, talking to Ranger recruits when they need guidance, but that's all really;
I prefer that no one who is a veteran speak to my NPC for a while.
I'm facing a momentous time in RL during this last half of June
and I'm trying to orient myself in a new direction on the Plaza
so there's really time for me to play him at Osdolen except for novices.