The Barrow-Downs Discussion Forum


Visit The *EVEN NEWER* Barrow-Downs Photo Page

Go Back   The Barrow-Downs Discussion Forum > Roleplaying > Elvenhome
User Name
Password
Register FAQ Members List Calendar Search Today's Posts Mark Forums Read


 
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 10-22-2005, 02:13 AM   #1
piosenniel
Desultory Dwimmerlaik
 
piosenniel's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: Pickin' flowers with Bill the Cat.....
Posts: 7,791
piosenniel is a guest of Tom Bombadil.
White Tree Númenórean Blood Runs Black RPG

The point of Chakka’s knife slid easily through the corsair’s chest, piercing his heart and sending his shade to howl with the damned of ukruza. Chakka pressed his hand over the man’s mouth to still the rattle of death and deftly slipped the corpse out the opened hatch. He dropped it like a stone directly into their wake so that the splash would not be noticed. Like a shadow disappearing into the night he climbed through the hatch after the dead man and crawled along the side of the Fame and Fortune, making less noise than the wind amid the rigging. The moon was only a sliver in the sky but there were no clouds and he had to trust to his luck that no one would look over at the sea. The conversation of the watch drifted down to him from the deck as Chakka rounded the stern below the captain’s window and made his way forward on the port side. The sea rushed beneath him and for a moment he thought of simply letting go and falling into the water. They were not too far from land, there was a chance – a slight chance – that he could make it to shore: if the current were not too fast, and if the tide co-operated and if the shoreline was not a jagged mass of crushing stone. He remained clinging to his perch on the side of the ship. He had a plan already, one that offered at least some hope.

Achieving the hatch he slipped out his knife once more and used it to gently pry open the casement. The quarters were empty, as he had known they would be, for the first mate kept the watch this night and the quarters were his. Chakka dropped to the deck like a cat and swiftly found the door. He peered out. Just down the corridor were the two corsairs whose unexpected presence had necessitated his unusual manner of moving from starboard to port. He waited until they moved to the other side of the lantern, where the light from it would be before their eyes should they look his way, before sprinting through the door to the ladder.

This, he had known all along, was the most dangerous part of his plan. Escaping his chains had been simple. One of the first things he had learned after being made a slave all those years ago was how to pick a lock with any slender piece of metal. In this case, a nail that he had pried loose from the rafters during his first night on duty before the captain’s door. They were still in harbour then and he could have escaped that very night, but for the captain’s devilish poison. They had brought Chakka to the captain’s door and shackled him there, explaining to him that he was to watch the night and to prevent anyone from entering the quarters. The captain had come then, a tall, wolfish looking man. They had stared at one another in silence for a while, each sizing the other up. They were the same height but Chakka’s frame was larger. It had impressed him that the captain had not been intimidated. Without a word and with the speed of a striking viper Rakin had flicked out his hand and Chakka felt a sting in his arm. He looked down and watched as the captain pulled a small thorn from the flesh. Chakka wondered what had just happened and the captain, smiling coolly, was quick to explain the ingenious nature of Chakka’s enslavement.

The thorn, he learned, had been coated in a poison of the captain’s own making that would slowly work its way to Chakka’s brain. By dawn he would be dizzy. By the time the sun was above the horizon, he would be blind. By noon, he would be dead but only after suffering through an excruciating period of burning pain. The captain’s smile never wavered as he explained this to Chakka. Rakin then explained, in equally even tones, that in the morning he would make a small dose of the antidote to the poison that he would administer to Chakka. With that, he went to sleep and Chakka was left to wonder at the brilliance of what the captain had achieved. There was nothing more that Chakka would like to do than slit the captain’s throat and run – anyone coming to assassinate the captain in his sleep would have found Chakka a willing accomplice. But now the slave’s life had been yoked fully to that of his master. For Captain Rakin to die in the night meant an agonising death to Chakka in the morning. He did not doubt that Rakin was telling the truth about the poison, or about the antidote to which the captain alone knew the recipe. There was something in the man’s bearing that made it impossible to believe that he would stoop to fabrication merely to obtain the services of a slave. So Chakka stood guard that night, and in the morning – when he was indeed beginning to feel a bit dizzy – he drank the vile tasting antidote that the captain gave him when he emerged from his quarters. The next night and morning were the same, and thus had he been forced to stand outside the captain’s door, night after night, keeping alive the one man in all creation whom he most wanted to see dead.

Chakka raced down the short passage keeping his breath quiet and even, and achieved the top of the ladder without being seen. He dropped through the trap and lighted upon the lower deck on all fours, his eyes glittering like a predator’s. He held his breath and even his heart slowed as he made himself as a stone, listening and alert. When he was certain that he had not been seen, he moved to the flimsy door that separated the aft hold from the slavedeck. He opened the door by a sliver and looked through. The slaves were sleeping in their chains, hunched over their oars or leaning back upon one another. His eyes narrowed and he sucked in a quick breath with the violence of one who knew what it was like to sleep like a chained beast. Quiet as moonlight he crept toward the guard.

It had taken him weeks of careful study and spying to learn the secret of the antidote. Using the nail he had prised loose on his first night, Chakka had first chipped a small spyhole through the wall so that he could watch the captain at work in the morning. He had studied the procedure of mixing and stirring until he could have performed the acts in his sleep. When that was accomplished he had slowly gathered what he needed to make the antidote himself. Some of what was required was easy to come by from the galley or the crew, but one or two compounds were to be found only in the captain’s quarters. He had fashioned a crude key to the captain’s door and each night he would slip in and quietly take one or two drops of the compounds he needed – never enough that the theft would be noticed – and hid them behind the loose rafter he had found. Eventually he had enough of what he needed to make the antidote himself and as soon as the captain had fallen asleep he had set to work removing his chains and making a dose of the antidote. But being free of his bondage meant little on a ship in the middle of the Sea – for where could he run? But running was not his plan…

Chakka seized the corsair, stifling his cries with his hands. His arms were iron bands about the man’s neck as he struggled to be free, but within a few moments the man’s motions became feeble and then ceased altogether. Chakka knew that to kill the man all he need do was hold on a few moments longer, but as soon as the guard was unconscious he let him drop to the deck. Some of the slaves in the aft ranks had come awake at the violence and they stared in disbelieving hope as Chakka fell to work on the mighty lock that fastened the chain to which they were all bound. As he sought to force the lock with his knife he spoke to them through clenched teeth: “Slaves, listen! I am here to set you free, but you must not run like animals. Do not think to throw yourselves into the Sea for you will die. We must become the hunters instead. We must kill and destroy and make this vessel our own. When the corsairs are dead we can take this ship where we please.” He spoke quietly but those who heard him passed his words back to their companions.

He concentrated on the lock once more. The first two latches had fallen and he was about to trigger the third when from behind there came the heavy tread of booted feet. With a curse in his own tongue he spun up from the deck and flew at the two pirates who had come below. He threw the first into the wall, his weapon not even yet drawn. The other pulled forth his cutlass and aimed a cleaving blow at Chakka’s head but he easily sidestepped the blade, in the same motion bringing his hand down on the man’s arm. He cried out in pain, and Chakka dropped him with his fist.

There was a cry from above as the corsairs became aware of the commotion. Chakka raced the length of the deck, hissing to the other slaves as he went, “I am sorry I failed you my friends. I shall lead them away.” The slaves knew what he meant: if the corsairs were to find out that a slave revolt had almost begun, they would all pay in blood.

Chakka pulled himself up the ladder to the foredeck and came face to face with three startled pirates. They lunged with their swords, but Chakka evaded them, crumpling one with a mighty kick. He leapt from the foredeck to the main deck and raced to the side, but there were too many pirates about now: they fell from the rigging like insects and swarmed about him. Ropes were thrown about him and soon he was dragged to the deck bellowing and raging like a beast. When he was tied fast the boatswain was sent for, and when he arrived there at his heels like a cur was the guard Chakka had choked into unconsciousness. The guard was raging, “Hang the rat, I says! String him by the neck until he knows what it’s like!”

“Stow that talk of hanging!” the boatswain replied sharply. “He’s the captain’s personal slave, so unless you feel comfortable explaining to him why you’ve killed his property you’d best take him to the brig unharmed. Leave him for the captain to deal with in the morning.”

“He near killed me,” the guard growled sulkily.

“Aye, and if he had then we could make use of that gallows. As it is, you’re more like to be whipped for negligence. A common sailor is cheaper and easier to replace than the likes of him!”

So Chakka was taken below and clapped in irons. He sat in the brig the rest of the night and throughout most of the following day, wondering what his fate would be aboard the Fame and Fortune


-- Fordim Hedgethistle

Last edited by piosenniel; 10-26-2005 at 02:26 AM.
piosenniel is offline  
Old 10-22-2005, 02:13 AM   #2
piosenniel
Desultory Dwimmerlaik
 
piosenniel's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: Pickin' flowers with Bill the Cat.....
Posts: 7,791
piosenniel is a guest of Tom Bombadil.
The Perky Ent's post

Tall ships and tall kings
Three times three
What brought they from the foundered land
Over the flowing sea?
Seven stars and seven stones
And one white tree


Telumehtar thought over the words, while he surveyed his lands. The view was always nice from the seventh tier of Minas Anor. With the wind blowing his brown hair across his brow, he could see lands his fathers had defended hundreds of years ago. Many times in the passing days had Telumehtar considered his heritage. When times of great trouble came, he would walk to the edge, and contemplate his actions. During this time, none were allowed to walk the level, except for the guards constantly stationed by the tree. It was in this hour that Telumehtar looked long and hard across his land, watching his troops muster at the port of Harlond. In the deepest part of his heart, Telumehtar wished he was a lone sailor of the sea, for Telumehtar was a mariner at heart.

It was a quiet day. The citizens of Minas Anor had been dreading the day for quiet some time after they heard that they would go to war. In homes, families were close and savored the time they had. Each day, Gondorians could see ships on the horizon, heading from far off lands. From Cair Andros to Dol Amroth, men had gathered to answer the call of war. Unlike tales of heroism and courage, the men of Gondor did not treat the Corsairs of Umbar like mindless orcs. Corsairs were a powerful force that required constant vigilance to be held back. Being pirates, they held no loyalty to any save themselves. But the pirates were not what scared the Gondorians, for they gave little heed to mindless brigands. It was the Black Numenorians, those corrupted by Sauron during the second age, that instilled fear in the very heart of Gondor. Just like the dunedain of Arnor, their numbers were rapidly decreasing, yet the remained the strength that their master had taught them long ago.

After meditating for quite some time, Telumehtar gave a sigh, and turned from the pinnacle. When he was a boy, his father would sing him songs of the Kings of Men, and their tree that stood on their island. It was from the story of the Akallabêth that Telumehtar learned to revere the sea and its power. But he was not meant to follow his hearts desire, as he was a descendant of the great kings of Gondor, and his fate was bound from his inception. When he turned his eyes to the White Tree, a sense of calm overtook him. Even after over a century of viewing it, the White Tree of Gondor was a sight. The sun’s light glistened on its branches perfectly, emanating beauty in its most radiant form. Telumehtar dared not touch it, a fear that he had held ever since he saw the death of the tree. “This is not a time for sorrow, for death smiles at us all.” Telumehtar said to himself as he walked away from the tree and smiled. “And all we can do about it is smile back”. He turned from the outdoors, and walked to his throne.

It was silent in his hall. The arrangements had been laid, precautions set, and edits degreed. The quiet was almost haunting, and it was for this that Telumehtar was glad when he heard whispers from behind him. Two men walked out from behind him, swords drawn. Without even registering the faces of the men, Telumehtar leaped from his throne and unsheathed his sword. In front of him, Telumehtar found none other than the Steward of Gondor, and his son Narmacil.

“Relax father. We are not here to usurp your authority.” Giving a slight chuckle, the steward added “Nay. In fact, we are here to make sure you are ready for the usurpers. Your son wanted to make sure you would stay on your toes. “Giving a cross look, Telumehtar slowly put his sword away. “When have I not been on my guard? Are you ready for my departure? As you should know, I am not much for goodbyes.” Narmacil nodded, and started to walk out of the hall. “I’ll have you know-“the steward interjected “That Arciryas sends his father his best wishes. Rest assured that he is safe in Annuminas. And I as well. I shall await your homecoming”. And with that, the steward and the heir left the room, and left Telumehtar to silence.

Telumehtar took a final look at his hall, and then marched slowly down the levels of the city. As he walked, groups of women and children parted to a side, creating a clear-cut path. One by one the gates of Minas Anor opened, until Telumehtar found himself upon the second level. Taking a right at a forked path, Telumehtar walked over to a large building with smoke billowing through its windows. Telumehtar opened the doors, and watched as all the men in the room bowed their heads. “Is it time my lord?” a man in the front said to the king, raising his head. Telumehtar gave a slow nod, and all the men watched as the king walked to the center of the large room. Along the walls, weapons and armor were laid, and golden tapestries of battles were hung from the ceilings. Telumehtar was presented with his armor, which had laid in the building for many years. Slowly but strongly, Telumehtar equipped his gear and left the building. Mindorlonn, Telumehtar’s chestnut horse, was waiting for his master outside the armoury.

Fixing the crown upon his head, Telumehtar rode to the gates of Minas Anor. Standing in front of an open gate, Telumehtar found a large group of mounted men waiting outside the city. Inside, a large cluster of people had gathered in a circle, engulfing Telumehtar within the entrance. Sweat started to pour down his face as Telumehtar started to cloister himself from his people. His horse, knowing him all too well, started to buck, bringing Telumehtar away from his claustrophobia. There, Telumehtar shouted, “People of Gondor! Fear not! The blood of Numenor shall be spilt this day, but it shall run black like their hearts! The corsairs will plague you no longer! For glory and Gondor we ride!” And with Minas Anor roaring in triumph behind him, Telumehtar grabbed Mindorlonn’s reins, and rode out to Harlond.

Quickly Telumehtar came to the port, and found it filled with ships and men. Throughout the port, Telumehtar spied flags from all distant lands of Gondor. Telumehtar started taking a mental note in his head of the lands that had come to his call. “Dol Amroth, Anfalas, Lossarnach, Morthond, Pinnath Gelin. Good, good, good! We are almost ready to make war. Now if only I could find - “You rang? Do not think I would not be here before you left!” came a voice from behind Telumehtar. “Menelcar! Trusty as ever! We will have time for pleasantries later, but I have more important matters to attend to. Where are my men? Where are my captains? My soldiers? My kingdom?”

Last edited by piosenniel; 10-26-2005 at 02:08 AM.
piosenniel is offline  
Old 10-22-2005, 02:14 AM   #3
piosenniel
Desultory Dwimmerlaik
 
piosenniel's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: Pickin' flowers with Bill the Cat.....
Posts: 7,791
piosenniel is a guest of Tom Bombadil.
Firefoot's post

It was with great impatience that Menelcar had awaited Telumehtar’s arrival. His impatience was not with the king himself, precisely, but he had been at the harbor since early that morning overseeing the muster and organization of the troops while the king took care of last minute preparations inside the city. He cared for this part of his job the least, for he disliked, nay, despised, dealing with people. This sentiment only compounded with so many people needing instructions at the same time. He had to direct the many captains to the ships that would transport them, as well as answer any questions that they or the ships’ captains might have. The job was necessary but tedious, and Menelcar had long since wearied of it. His mount, a restive bay stallion, seemed to concur.

The king’s arrival heartened Menelcar greatly; it meant they would be departing soon, and he would no longer be plagued by the many questions and problems of the soldiers. He nudged the horse forward to meet the king, threading his way through the busy harbor as quickly as he could manage. However, he was interrupted before he could get very far by yet another inquisitive captain; his uniform proclaimed him to be from Dol Amroth.

“Yes?” asked Menelcar curtly.

“I am Captain Baranor, out of Dol Amroth,” said the man, clearly unsure of how to take his brusque manner. “It seems that we brought a few more men than we had originally estimated; our assigned ships will be loaded full and there are still about twenty more men than the ships’ captains say that the boats will safely hold.”

Menelcar barely stifled an irritated sigh and dug out of his pocket the little book in which he was keeping the details of the attack. He scanned the ship assignments and wrote a note of the captain’s situation. “There should be some extra space with the soldiers from Anfalas. If not, check with those from Morthond. Do so quickly; we will be departing soon now that the king has arrived.”

“Thank you, milord,” said the captain with a salute. Menelcar paid no heed; he had already begun to ride off, scanning the harbor for Telumehtar, whom he had lost sight of while speaking with the captain. The king would be looking for him by now, no doubt. The soldiers milling about had parted to let the king pass through, and Menelcar took advantage of the more open space, nudging his horse into a dignified canter to catch up. The stallion took the extra rein eagerly after having stood around for so long.

“You were looking for me?” asked Menelcar as he drew even with Telumehtar. “Do not think I would not be here before you left!”

Telumehtar turned in recognition of the voice: “Menelcar! Trusty as ever! We will have time for pleasantries later, but I have more important matters to attend to. Where are my men? Where are my captains? My soldiers? My kingdom?”

“I should hope you know where your kingdom is by now,” commented Menelcar, smiling in spite of himself. “As for the rest of it, many of the soldiers are already aboard their ships. These rest ought to know where they’re heading by now, or their captains do.” Quickly he outlined the organization of the soldiers – where the units from the various regions of Gondor were situated and so on. “We will be traveling in that ship, there-” Menelcar pointed to a fine ship a short way down the harbor. “I have spoken with the captain of the ship; he seemed very eager to make sure all was in line for your arrival,” he added with a hint of contempt. The captain had spoken with him several times that day, to the point of being bothersome. “It should not be much more than an hour before we are ready to set sail; they mostly await your order.”

Last edited by piosenniel; 10-26-2005 at 02:11 AM.
piosenniel is offline  
Old 10-22-2005, 02:14 AM   #4
piosenniel
Desultory Dwimmerlaik
 
piosenniel's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: Pickin' flowers with Bill the Cat.....
Posts: 7,791
piosenniel is a guest of Tom Bombadil.
Folwren's post

Captain Hereric stood on the deck of The Cuivië, his hands folded behind him, and his eyes watching the bustle of his men below. The muscle in his jaw slowly clenched and unclenched and a constant, grim expression lingered on his face. The last day before setting sail was always hard enough without the extra stress of greeting a king. It would have to be his ship, wouldn’t it? But then, she was very fine, wasn’t she? He glanced up at the ropes and rigging above his head. The fine lines against the clear blue sky, and the proud Gondorian flag fluttering slightly in the breeze. She was a gorgeous ship, and her crew one of the best. He had little nor no doubts of her performance, and he would not have had any worries in the least had it not been for the condescending manner of the king’s own advisor.

Hereric’s jaw tightened again and he looked towards the pier. Of all people, he thought he disliked the condescending sort. The very thought of being looked down on by anyone on his ship was extremely annoying and entirely intolerable. He’d have to work on that if the two of them were going to be stuck together for more than a few days.

The approach of his first left-tenant brought his attention back to his ship and he watched as the young man mounted the steps to his side. ‘Sir, the last of the water is on, and the meat. That should be the last shipment on board from the port. The last attachment of soldiers, also, will be arriving shortly, no doubt.’

‘Yes, I should imagine so,’ Hereric replied. He glanced over his shoulder at the sun and back down. ‘Prepare my barge. You will go to the landing and greet his majesty the King.’

In a few moments, the boat was by the ship’s side and the left-tenant with the Captain’s coxswain climbed over the side and were rowed towards the landing. The Captain remained where he stood, giving the last orders, and preparing the ship for the king’s arrival. It would not be long.

Hereric kept half an eye on his men on shore. Perhaps it wouldn’t be so bad. The wait at the docks and the stress of making certain that everything was bought and delivered to the ship always made him impatient and peevish. The counselor had likely been under stress himself when he had spoken to him.

‘Forimar,’ he said, turning to a man walking past below him. ‘Get all this squared away and prepare the deck for the king’s arrival.’

Last edited by piosenniel; 10-26-2005 at 02:13 AM.
piosenniel is offline  
Old 10-22-2005, 02:14 AM   #5
piosenniel
Desultory Dwimmerlaik
 
piosenniel's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: Pickin' flowers with Bill the Cat.....
Posts: 7,791
piosenniel is a guest of Tom Bombadil.
Alcarillo's post

Captain Vórimandur paced his office in the Ráca's stern impatiently. He and his crew had woken up before sunrise to prepare for this voyage. For long hours they packed all of their food, weapons, clothing, sea charts, and other necessities into the ship. Then they checked for sails for tears, and then the decks were swabbed until the Ráca was the cleanest ship for leagues in all directions. Captain Vórimandur had put forth all of his effort to ready the ship, but now the only thing to prevent them from sailing to victory and glory was the King of Gondor himself. It was now nearing midafternoon, and King Telumehtar had not arrived. Thrice already had Captain Vórimandur asked the king's attendant on the pier when the king would arrive, and each time the answer was the same: soon.

He could barely wait any longer to sail off. The thrill of a new voyage pounded in Captain Vórimandur's heart. He opened the stern windows wide and searched the docks for any sign of the king, but there was none. He sighed and leaning against the window frame watched the sailors of the other ships prepare. Maybe we shouldn't have began so early.

"Sir?" a sailor stepped through the open cabin door, and Captain Vórimandur turned his head from the window. It was Caradhril, a trusted navigator, and a member of the Ráca's crew for nearly three years now. Caradhril cleared his throat and said, "Sir, the sailors are getting bored. There's nothing more to do. Some of them are wandering the docks and the other ships."

"Really?" Captain Vórimandur was surprised and had not thought about what the sailors were doing at the moment. He sat at his desk, ornately carved with nautical symbols. "Tell Morgond to round up the sailors. I want all of them back on the ship by the time the king arrives." He considered for a moment what sort of punishment should await them. Then a silver trumpet blared somewhere on the pier.

"The king has arrived! Caradhril, hurry!" Vórimandur said. Caradhril turned and ran into the deep hallways of the Ráca. It was all those new sailors from Lossarnach, unused to how life on a ship worked. Vórimandur moved back to the stern windows to catch a good look at the king, and to keep an eye out for his wandering sailors.

Last edited by piosenniel; 10-26-2005 at 02:14 AM.
piosenniel is offline  
Old 10-22-2005, 02:15 AM   #6
piosenniel
Desultory Dwimmerlaik
 
piosenniel's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: Pickin' flowers with Bill the Cat.....
Posts: 7,791
piosenniel is a guest of Tom Bombadil.
Dunwen's post

Nimir was tired, sore and thirsty. Captain Vórimandur had ordered that everyone on the Ráca start preparing the ship and its equipment before sunrise, and it was now midafternoon. Nimir had first helped to load his company’s weapons on board, carrying box after box of arrows, short spears, small bows, and knives down into the holds. Only after this was done were morning rations passed out, and pretty thin they were, too: a hard roll, a pint of small beer, and a completely inadequate (in Nimir’s opinion) ration of cheese and bacon. He tried not to think of home too often, but he never missed his family so much as at mealtimes. Gnawing his bread and cheese, Nimir had thought longingly of his mother’s generous table back home. Why, there would be fresh bread and butter, plate-sized slabs of ham or platters of sausage or fried fish, porridge and cream, eggs, and fruit turnovers, all washed down with good fresh buttermilk or spring water. And that was just breakfast! His reveries of venison sausage and eggs were disrupted when Nimir’s company was ordered to start swabbing the decks.

What a disaster that had been. Nimir didn’t think he would ever get used to living on board a ship. While hurrying with a bucket of clean water toward the end of the ship, (“Stern”, he reminded himself) he had run face-first into a rope anchoring one of the Ráca’s spars in position. He had not cut himself, but he now sported a painful, raw rope burn along the right side of his face, along his cheekbone down to his jaw-line, and a smaller matching scrape along the side of his neck. The officer in charge had ripped into him for not watching where he was going and wasting good clean water, then sent him off for another bucketful. After putting him on report, of course. As punishment, Nimir was not allowed his midday ration of drink. He had ground his teeth and made the only permissible reply under the circumstances. “Yes, sir.”

However, when his company was released from any specific duty, the practical seventeen-year-old had simply left the ship and headed for the Seagull, a dingy tavern not far from the Ráca’s berth. Now sitting on a rickety bench outside the Seagull’s weathered wooden walls, Nimir took another drink of ale, feeling the liquid wash away the lingering dryness in his throat. Resting the cool pewter tankard against his aching face, he sighed. Days like this, he wondered why he ever left home. Back in Lebinnin, listening to the recruiting officer, joining King Telumehtar’s expedition against the Corsairs of Umbar had sounded like a grand and glorious adventure. Sergeant Nillendion had declared that with his skills as a bowman, Nimir would quickly advance and earn both commendations and wealth, and Nimir had been eager to believe the wily recruiter. How splendid it would be to return to his village as a war hero, or better yet, a decorated officer with a sword at his hip. Nimir had imagined arriving home on a great horse, with a purse full of gold...which he would then share with his bossy older brother, provided of course that Kalisuz humbly apologized for trying to order him, Nimir, around for all those years. And wouldn’t Meliel be sorry she’d dumped him for that old man, Dolgor. Nimir spent many pleasurable hours imagining his former sweetheart’s regret at letting him go for an ancient man of thirty years. He’d show her. He’d show them all that he was capable of great things.

That had been the idea, anyway. But the training camp in Lossarnach had put an end to that dream. While the officers running the camp had been visibly impressed with his marksmanship, they had nevertheless insisted that he take his place among the other recruits and learn such military skills as following orders, saluting his superiors and maneuvering in the field. Nimir had enjoyed the latter. He had learned to hunt at an early age, and by the age of 12 years spent entire days alone stalking game in the meadows and woods near his home. Unfortunately, his training had not included anything about ships.

Coming back to reality, Nimir sighed again and took another pull at his ale. He choked suddenly as Morgond, one of the Ráca’s officers, appeared before him and bellowed, “You! Soldier! Who gave you permission to debark? Get back onboard ship!” Nimir groaned inwardly, expecting to be put on report yet again, but Morgond merely hurried down the wharf, bent on rounding up more wandering recruits. Deciding that the officer hadn’t told him to return immediately, the young recruit hastily finished his ale and stood up. Returning the empty tankard to the barkeep, he saw a pile of meat pies and bought two to take with him. Then he hurried back to the Ráca. Once on deck, he stopped and leaned on the gunwale, munching a pie and observing the bustle all along the wharves at Harlond. Off in the distance, Minas Anor gleamed white against the dark mass of Mount Mindolluin.

A stir on the docks below caught Nimir’s attention. Further down the wharf, he saw a tall, dark-haired man wearing a crown and a fine embroidered tunic walking toward the fleet’s flagship, accompanied by several nobles. His ears caught the cries of “The King! Make way for the King!” The second pie fell unnoticed into the water below as he hoisted himself onto the gunwale and grabbed a rope to steady himself, craning his neck to see. There was the King of Gondor before his own two eyes! What a tale for everyone back home. No one in his village had even been to Dol Amroth, much less seen the King himself. Wouldn’t they all be jealous!

Last edited by piosenniel; 10-26-2005 at 02:17 AM.
piosenniel is offline  
Old 10-22-2005, 02:15 AM   #7
piosenniel
Desultory Dwimmerlaik
 
piosenniel's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: Pickin' flowers with Bill the Cat.....
Posts: 7,791
piosenniel is a guest of Tom Bombadil.
Kath's post

Curamir stepped onto the walkway with a sigh of relief as the world stopped rocking. He had never been on a ship before and the constant swaying had him falling over at every turn. Fortunately Vórimandur the captain had been busy with the preparations for departure and had not seen the somewhat deplorable skills his newest soldier had. Unfortunately, the crew has. The sailors laughed as he stumbled past them trying to keep his balance and even the other soldiers had shared amused grins at his lack in sea legs. Still, he’d had some time to get used to the movement now, and as long as he didn’t watch the horizon dipping up and down he was able to prevent himself from throwing up.

He had been on board since the early morning as the captain had requested and he had intended to ask the crew some questions about his father, as he had assumed that while the ship was in the harbour they would be less busy. He had been wrong, as he had found out when he tried to nab a passing sailor and had received a few choice words once the man realised Curamir only wanted to talk.

“Don’t you realise we’re preparing for a voyage boy? If you’re not going to be helpful then don’t be here at all!”

And he had disappeared without another word. Chagrined and not daring to try again with anyone else, Curamir had stowed his meagre amount of personal items in his bunk and gone up on deck to find Lingwë, his friend from his training days who was also on the mission. He hoped being with would stop him asking foolish questions and disturbing the crewmen, as Lingwë had heard a lot about his father over the years, and was sick to death of it. Once Curamir had found him the two were soon put to work making sure all the necessary supplies were on board, and as they carried box after box to it’s rightful place they chattered eagerly about the upcoming encounter.

“Do you think we’ll actually get to fight?” Lingwë had asked.

“I don’t know. Don’t they usually try to negotiate first? You know, sort it all out without fighting.” He had replied, wondering as he did so just how this mission was going to end.

“Oh maybe. In that case I hope we get to go aboard the Corsair ship, what a story to tell back home!”

“If you live to tell the tale.” Curamir had said with a grin, and received a thump on the arm in retaliation.

Once they had finished the chores that had been set the two friends decided to go ashore and explore the town a little. This was a new place for both of them and as the ship would be leaving soon they were keen to see as much as they could. Curamir was also keen to get onto some dry land, as he knew this would be the last for a while! Now though he was thinking less of what was to come and more of what was around him. The fishy smell that permeated everything was all around, and the stalls in the market place that they had just entered seemed to be the centre of it, holding every kind of fish Curamir could think of.

They walked on and wandered down a back street, looking for something more interesting that wouldn’t be seen by anyone in the more open areas of the town, but just as they found a promising looking street a call rang out from the market square they had previously been in.

“Captain Vórimandur orders that all soldiers serving aboard his ship return immediately!”

Turning to look at his friend Curamir sighed.

“Another time, perhaps”

“When we come back,” answered Lingwë.

They turned and walked briskly back to the ship.

Last edited by piosenniel; 10-26-2005 at 02:15 AM.
piosenniel is offline  
Old 10-22-2005, 02:15 AM   #8
piosenniel
Desultory Dwimmerlaik
 
piosenniel's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: Pickin' flowers with Bill the Cat.....
Posts: 7,791
piosenniel is a guest of Tom Bombadil.
Thinlómien's post

As Lingwë an Curamir walked the street back to the ship, Lingwë thought of the war. He wasn't as optimistic about it as he had been before. Despite his ignorance of Curamir's comment on dying along the way, he had actually started to think more about that possibility. Maybe this was the last ship he'd ever sign up to? Maybe this was the last summer he'd ever see?

He was returned to the reality by a friendly tuck on his side. "Look, Lingwë, it's the king!" Curamir whispered to him, excited. Lingwë looked around, trying to catch a look from the man he regarded as the most powerful man in whole Middle-Earth. "Not there, idiot; on the docks", Curamir said.

At last Lingwë caught a little look from the man he admired. The king stood tall and proud in the middle of the crowd. He had an aura of power around him. He was talking with his advisor. His crown gleamed golden in the sun. He is my king, Lingwë thought, I will follow him.

Reluctantly Lingwë turned his gaze from the king and said: "Curamir, I think we should be going." His friend nodded and they continued their way to the ship.

"We're going to be late", Curamir pointed out.
"Yes, we are. We're going to get extra chores", Lingwë said.

Last edited by piosenniel; 10-26-2005 at 02:16 AM.
piosenniel is offline  
Old 10-22-2005, 02:15 AM   #9
piosenniel
Desultory Dwimmerlaik
 
piosenniel's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: Pickin' flowers with Bill the Cat.....
Posts: 7,791
piosenniel is a guest of Tom Bombadil.
Anguirel's post


“And now, my dears...play, play.”

Sangalazin, illustrious descendant of the King of Gondor known uncompromisingly in Umbar as Castamir the Great, was stretched out on a silken couch in his black ship’s cabin, his considerable full length languidly extended. A small table stood nearby; on it was positioned a silver instrument, from which a pipe crawled, coming to rest in Sangalazin’s long golden hand. He placed it into his mouth and took another gulp at the hookah, exulting at the relief at the fumes quenching the thirst of his lungs. Truly, the hookah was a potent sign that if one rejected the ways of the East and South, one would never find civilisation.

The supine Lord was attended by twelve men. Nine were monumentally tall-like Sangalazin himself-but, and here they differed from their master, also well-muscled and armoured all about in black iron. Those who were bare-headed displayed cold, impassive stares from grey Northern eyes. Their hair was dark, but bleached yellow, in contrast to their arms. Their weapons were all forged in the Gondorian fashion; straight longswords, triangular shields, visored helms. This, then, was the feared bodyguard of Sangalazin, which he had formed when still a child; its soldiers cradle Gondorians, but in their hearts fanatical servants of the Castamirioni, and Sangalazin in particular, who knew he owed his survival to them.

The other three men in the richly furnished cabin, below the forecastle, were of quite a different sort. It was these Sangalazin had addressed. One was of the Haradrim, and beat upon a set of small drums. Another was an Easterling, and toyed with a delicate stringed instrument, which he called a sitar. The third was a youth from the North, one of the shadow dwellers, a blonde boy with a flute. Sangalazin smiled at him.

“I find your strains particularly moving, child. You touch me. To think that one such as you replaced our line upon the throne of Meneldil...but I bear no grudge. Indeed, as long as you and your people confine yourself to our music-rooms and our pleasure-chambers, and don’t mess with power, the reserve of true men...why, then, you are quite endearing.”

The Lord of Half of Umbar leant up from his position and felt the youth’s cheek. The beard would not come for some time. A pretty specimen, indeed. And how strange and yet lovely the three combined tunes had sounded, to his own composition, intermingled. That was the way of culture, of beauty, of perfection. When he sat upon the Throne at Minas Anor-for he took little account of his cousin and rival, Azaryan-his court would be ordered thus. Tedious warring would cease, benevolent peace would embrace all the lesser nations, to be guided under his command. And civilisation would prevail.

His harmonious thoughts were interrupted by the Southron striking a false note. Sangalazin raised an eyebrow, and whispered something to a guard. Two of them led the musician out. He would not be killed; not yet, for the guards would wait for him to be strangled later at their master’s whim.

It was then that a black-robed, well-spoken lordling of Azaryan’s train arrived in the cabin. Sangalazin was called to his cousin's side. He took a last, regretful drag on the hookah, tousled the blonde boy’s hair, and followed the messenger. His cousin was powerful and proud-spirited, and it would do no good to anger him now...

Last edited by piosenniel; 10-26-2005 at 02:19 AM.
piosenniel is offline  
Old 10-22-2005, 02:16 AM   #10
piosenniel
Desultory Dwimmerlaik
 
piosenniel's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: Pickin' flowers with Bill the Cat.....
Posts: 7,791
piosenniel is a guest of Tom Bombadil.
Hiriel's post

A tortured wail rose up from the ribs as Lord Azaryan paced. He sighed slowly, closing his eyes and letting the wooden moans relax his muscles. A terrible headache churned within his temples, and so he allowed the groans to wash over him, a rough but steadying chorus. He had always liked the sound of waves belowdecks better than on shore, the clash of water on wooden shield. It was like some grand ancient battle.

He loitered in the relative solitude of the armory, liking to take ease in unusual places. It took longer for anyone to interrupt him, and it gave the greenhand ensigns a good scare to have to look for their lord and captain from mess to forecastle, wardroom to deepest hold, not knowing what corner he would be waiting around to yell at them. He smiled at the thought, glad to be back at sea again. All matters of supplies, gold, crime and court were put aside, and only important things left were stealth and wind and tide. It had been too long.

But, then, there had been much to plan for this voyage. Gondor, the tiring old eagle, usually ventured some response to the corsair raids that were rapidly becoming a way of life along the coast. In the last few months, however, the gnats of Dol Amroth and other coastal garrisons sat silent, suffering any abuse from his fleet without retaliation. Azaryan started pacing the squat room faster and found himself knocking into stacks of spears and quivers in his fiendish glee, half tripping over the toppled weapons in his energy.

They must be weak. There is no other reason why Telumehtar would not protect his own. They must be panicked. Nay, deperate. Ha! I may yet see the White City.” Twitching, he licked his lips and his thoughts skipped, leaping from one glorious picture to the next: This raid raising Pelegir, corsair ships landing up and down the coast, Dol Amroth in flames, the great fleet the Haradrim were still clamoring payment over pulling into Harlond, Telumehtar knelling, weeping before him at the base of the white throne. Feeling more elated than he had all day, Azaryan now bit his lip and began running over the plans of attack on Pelegir over again in his mind. If the river town was neutralized, then, only with greatest speed could he move the fleet to Harlond and Osgiliath. The army of Umbar was too small to take on Gondor’s in a pitched battle, but an assault on the Harlond and Osgiliath might cow it. The thought quickened his breath.

“Enough strategy, Azar,” A warm voice chuckled, rolling like a swell, and knocked him out of his reverie. “I have done nothing to suggest that was what my mind was turned to,cousin.” He recovered, recognizing the voice of Lord Sangalazin, his own like the crack of a spar. “Why else would a sea lord cloister himself for three hours in a cramped armory?” The man framing the doorway asked with mock innocence. “I see no reason to explain myself or my actions to you, and indeed I have no need to.” Azaryan cut back airily. “How goes it, then?” “There are a lot of ‘ifs’ yet, and the mouth of the Anduin is our most pressing problem at the moment. Telumehtar knows the river, and so we must evade the eyes he plants its coast.” His face dimmed, frowning at as his problems and dragging down his features.

“That may not be so. We’re in sight of land, Azar, inside the very mouth of the river and not even a fishing boat to great us.” Azaryan started; This was news that stabbed at his gut. “Than either he either he is a fool or an ungracious host.” He frowned deep, his grip on his settings slipping as he absorbed this information. “Well, I think we would both rather him a fool. Indeed, he and I would have something in common, I agreeing to come on this silly venture.” The wry comment brought him back to the armory. “Stop trying to be witty. I can dismember you at will for demeaning the importance of our military endevours this day.” Sangalazin only gave lopsided grin to the terse threat.
“That’s what makes it so fun, cousin.”

Azaryan growled in the back of his throat. Ever had Salgalazin been petty and lacked the proper focus for a lord of Umbar. Only his sharp intelligence, far greater than any other of his family, redeemed him. Not willing to be sidetracked by his cousin’s foolishness, Azaryan plodded on. “We know at least that Telumehtar is not one. But perhaps he falters. Perhaps Umbar’s threat has undone him and he sweats and frets on that great marble perch of his. I can think of no other reason he does not act against us. Regardless, we will give him something to fret about, pompous Eldacarioni.” He spat the last sentence out, a solemn vow.

“Then we should begin by going ondeck.” Azaryan nodded, bared a quick, vicious grin, and followed the beaconing figure out of the ships’ bowls and into the fresh sea air.

Last edited by piosenniel; 10-26-2005 at 02:18 AM.
piosenniel is offline  
Old 10-22-2005, 02:16 AM   #11
piosenniel
Desultory Dwimmerlaik
 
piosenniel's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: Pickin' flowers with Bill the Cat.....
Posts: 7,791
piosenniel is a guest of Tom Bombadil.
Amanaduial the archer's post

Even from a birdseye view, from far above the choppy waves, the Fame and Fortune made a striking image: on a clear day, proudly bestriding the waves that lapped against the side, as if daring the mighty Ulmo himself to make some challenge, when the wind leapt and blustered into those unusual, triangular sails, propelling the striking, slim silhouette forward through the waters…and with what speed! She cut through the waters so fast, so easily, the chopping motion mimicking the jolting laughter of such a ship whose pointed features were like a wicked laugh embodied. A more arresting and, aye, and more handsome ship, in its own way, was not to be found on this side of Arda. Stealthy, fast and fair. And the captain of this ship, a corsair as famed as his ship, since her very establishment as a pirate vessel loved it.

Standing on the forecastle of the ship, leaning casually against the foremast with one arm somewhat affectionately thrown around it as if around the shoulders of a loved one, Captain Chatazrakin Telmenzar stared out at the open waters, the feel of the wind caressing his neck, face and bare arms more familiar and enjoyable to him that any human touch. A corsair as infamous as the striking silhouette of the ship he had commanded for a decade, this was the life that Rakin had been born for – and after a life of sailing on his precious ship, the corsair wasn’t best disposed to the likes of that silent, unsmiling snob and the debauched fop who called themselves the Lords of Umbar trying to order him around on his own ship. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath of the salty air, tipping his head back into the wind as the sounds of the ship’s daily life flowed around him, each sound as familiar and easily identifiable to him as his own breathing. The seabirds squabbling as they flew above, a V of them making for the Anduin, racing Fame and Fortune to it, the crewmen talking, calling to each other all the way from the Crows’ Nest to the lower decks, snatches of song and laughter, interspersed with shouts and angry voices, the cries of a slave’s pain…these vibrant patchwork of the ship’s life reverberated through her ribs from tip to tail, and the Captain drank it all in, each sound bringing memories and things to do. The sound of the slave, for example… He sighed irritably, clenching his jaw tightly as he opened his eyes once more to glare angrily out at the sea.

“They must be weak. There is no other reason why Telumehtar would not protect his own—”

“Cousin, cousin, please, let me get my breath first before you begin to batter me once more with your tactics…”

The first voice, harsh and solemn though with a controlled energy, was another sound which, even after a relatively short time, seemed to belong to the ship: a voice that Rakin could reason with and understand, despite its cheerless and dour owner. But the second voice, that amused drawl....well, it was a voice whose origins were familiar to Rakin’s very genetics, but one which most certainly did not belong on a ship as he did. Azaryan and Sangalazin, Lords of Umbar – and the only pair of men on this ship to whom Rakin himself was directly accountable. And Rakin did not like to be under another’s power…

“Good afternoon, my Lords,” he began, half turning his head towards them although his arm remained slung as it was around the mast. Azaryan nodded curtly, but such a simple greeting could not be enough for Sangalazin.

“Morning,” he replied simply. Rakin turned his dark, narrow eyes further towards his half-brother, raising one eyebrow carefully. Sangalaz in had his arms crossed and a smile on his full, girlish mouth. “It is still but morning, Captain Chatazrakin, give her her due and do not steal from her a good hour. You wouldn’t rob the day of a full hour of her bounty, would you?”

Ah. It was going to be one of these conversations then. How he regretted not sharing a childhood with his half-brother…or not. Apparently being an unrecognised scion had some advantages – namely the lack of comments such as these from the his inbred, spoilt, fop of a brother. Rakin bit back the reply which leapt to his tongue and instead gave a very slight smile as he straightened up and turned towards the two Lords of Umbar. “Ah, but is that not what our very aim is, my Lord Sangalazin? Thievery from even the highest powers?”

Sangalazin’s expression seemed to freeze for a split second between a sneer and a smile, then he simply shrugged and gave the Captain a lazy, infuriating grin. In order to keep up his respectfulness towards Sangalazin, the easiest response to this was simply to ignore it. After all, it was a damn sight more respectful than the sneer he would usually award to such a… Turning to the older of the two, Rakin inquired as to Azaryan’s expression of worry. “How goes, my Lord? You seem troubled – no bad tidings I hope?”

“None except that one of your slaves is potentially about to be thrashed to death belowdecks,” Sangalazin interrupted unhelpfully. His mouth contorted into a cruel grin which sat uneasily on his fine features. “Although whether that is indeed a bad thing is quite debateable.”

Azaryan did not respond to his cousin, turning expressionless eyes on Rakin for a moment with a look that made the Captain feel like a particularly unwholesome weevil. Then he looked away, glaring, as Rakin had done, over the sea. “It is nothing, Captain,” he replied shortly. Ever eloquent, the corsair commented mentally, then felt the usual stab of guilt. His loyalty must lie with the Lords of Umbar, always, no matter how surly – or superficial – they were… Deciding not to try to get water from the stone on this particular afternoon – or, let Sangalazin have his way, this morning – Rakin excused himself from the pair and, bracing himself, started down the stairs to the lower decks, from whence he would go to the slave deck. This morning he had other affairs to deal with – namely, the dawn escape affair of the previous night. A slave escape, now of all times, and from Chakka – hardly surprising, bearing in mind the brute itself. But I thought I had him under control… He fingered the vial of bitter, mustard-yellow liquid in his pocket: in an hour it would become useless to its intended drinker. Unless the slave was more devious even than Rakin gave him his due for; but then, in the mind of a desperate man, even the best formulated plan often had a slip up - and in this case, one slip-up was likely to make the slave very uncomfortable indeed... A grim smiled twisted Rakin’s handsome features and his hand clenched tight over the vial. Well, if Chakka intended to make life difficult for him now of all times, he had better stop by his own apartments to retrieve a few items from the vicious little armoury of his coat pockets…

Last edited by piosenniel; 10-26-2005 at 02:20 AM.
piosenniel is offline  
Old 10-22-2005, 02:16 AM   #12
piosenniel
Desultory Dwimmerlaik
 
piosenniel's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: Pickin' flowers with Bill the Cat.....
Posts: 7,791
piosenniel is a guest of Tom Bombadil.
dancing spawn of ungoliant's post

The hot air below deck smelled of sweat and blood. Jagar gasped and felt his heartbeat pounding in his throat. A man sitting next to him had collapsed onto the oar unable to force his tortured body to work any longer. Although it was gruesome, the sight made him chuckle. The limp body of the man swung to-and-fro with every pull making him look like a puppet and making rowing even harder. Was he dead? No, not yet. "Will be soon", Jagar mumbled to himself. "Isn't this something! Great ships with crimson sails, wasn't that what you wanted to see?" a little voice jeered inside his head.

When Jagar was a mere boy, he had travelled north to the coast with his father to inspect their tribe's lands. He had seen proud ships setting off from the harbours, the sun dazzling on foaming waves and screaming flocks of seabirds that circled above docks waiting the fishermen to clean their catch. As time passed, Jagar didn't forsake the sight of the glimmering sea and he longed for the freedom that the life on the coast breathed. Getting captured was not part of the plan.

During these months aboard Jagar had learnt that by keeping up with the pace and holding your tongue you could keep the whip away. The man sitting next to him had done neither. Rankling wounds run across his back making his remaining clothes sticky with matter. Jagar thought of his family. They had kept slaves, too, people from scattered and weak tribes who had chosen thralldom over death.

A whip of lash whizzed past Jagar's ear hitting the man next to him on the back and spattering blood drops around. The poor man moaned hoarsely as a new wound ripped the old scars open and coloured his ragged shirt carmine red. There was a time when this sight would have made Jagar feel sick but now he just stared forward squeezing the oar. The man was detached from his chains and dragged away. A few rows from Jagar another man was being beaten for dropping his oar.

Jagar moved quickly to the seat beside the oar hole and breathed the salty air. Finally he could see a glimpse of the swelling sea and boundless sky. How free the seagulls were! He wanted to wring their necks, shoot them down, so they couldn't fly around the cursed ship as though mocking him. No, he wanted to be one of them and ride with the breeze that blew from the vast ocean and hailed a new dawn. But here Jagar was chained in a ship and going to war against Gondor.

Harad was an enemy of Gondor as was Umbar. Jagar had learnt that long ago. If he was a free man, he would have gone to war gladly but not like this, not as a thrall trapped in an Umbarian ship. They made slaves row under pain of torment and death, but if he ever reached Gondor, what would the battle be but torment and death? Maybe he would die pathetically as an old man holding an oar after wasting his years rowing Numenorean lords from war to war. They would just throw him overboard for the sport of different sea creatures and keep conquering the world. This thought made him chuckle again. But why would he have been so eager to go to war against Gondor? He had no personal reason to hate that land. Jagar tried to reminisce an old song his mother had used to sing but the words escaped from his mind. Something about wind and horizon...

Last edited by piosenniel; 10-26-2005 at 02:27 AM.
piosenniel is offline  
Old 10-22-2005, 02:17 AM   #13
piosenniel
Desultory Dwimmerlaik
 
piosenniel's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: Pickin' flowers with Bill the Cat.....
Posts: 7,791
piosenniel is a guest of Tom Bombadil.
Eorl of Rohan's post

Ferethor couldn't keep count. Beneath the ship, days and years were as one in their miserable condition. A few went mad. Most died. No one lasted more than a year in the service at the oars, no one sane… but him.

He might have lost the consciousness too, if he hadn't that to spark the flame – hatred. He deliberately nurtured it. From the instant when he realized to his horror that he'd go mad if he didn't do anything, he had fed and coddled this hatred of his until it became his driving force. And they knew it. What 'they' were here but the damned Corsairs, the enemy? They knew that he survived. He ate whatever they brought it, he built his strength, and his muscles continued to ripple and move as he strained his chest against the oar to the bending point, under the shadow of the whip of the master, and behind the master, the South, behind it still, the fundamental hatred between the West and the South. He held on. Every minute, he held on. In the pitch-darkness, relieved only by faint lanterns and the cracking sound of the many-lashed whips, he held on with one purpose in mind and one desire – to take vengeance. He had watched impassively as people dropped like flies around him. He knew he could not help them, no matter what. What he could do was escape – escape, and sink the ship with the whole cursed population! He would remember the blank faces of the dead comrades that fought beside him in the fray, the screams of the tortured thralls, and the feel of the lash on his bare back. He would remember, and the blood will be on their heads. Ferethor knew he was thinking in circles. But a thread broken in the train of continuous thought might douse the flame of hatred that was the only thing that kept him sane against all odds. So he pulled the oar. And hated steadily.

There was no source of light other than that which trickled through the hole where the oar handles were thrust in. The lantern that the sentry guard held didn’t count. He bent against the oar, letting his weight do half the work in moving forward the massive ship whose only part he knew was beneath the decks, the mold and the dark and the whips. It was then that he heard the shouts outside – there were always shouts, but this was of a different nature – and the call to arms. They were going to war. War… He strained to hear the next word. War against Gondor. Gondor. He froze. The oar fell from his hands, clattering against the floor. Let them react to that. Was it on purpose or an accident? He didn’t know. He was tired. So tired.

The slaves working around him flinched, and shied away as if the whip might descend on them by mistake. Ferethor straightened up and lifted his head, knowing that soon he'd whimper and beg for mercy like any other slave under the stinging blows of the whip – maybe the racks, even – but he wanted to show them that he was not afraid. No, that wasn't it. He was afraid, but he was not going to let that fear run away with him. He was still a Gondorian, if nothing else. He was a captain of Gondor. He knew that the Corsairs have always hated him more for all that, wanted to see him break under their hands, more than all others - because he was the material realization of the strength and power of Gondor, the City of Stone. He wouldn’t give them the pleasure so easily – he clenched his teeth at that – he owed that much to his heritage, if nothing else. If he had more strength… If he had… If he could contact them… But no. It was futile to dream.

The guard woke from his doze and looked over. The thralls shrank away still further, as much as the chains would allow, and made it a point to not look at his way. They were chained just so that they were forced into a kneeling position, unable to stand or to sit, with the chains interlinked with other slaves that one slave's mishap might affect all others. The arms were free to work the oars, and some had misshapen arms because of being chained in one place with only one arm used for exercise, for so long. Not that the length mattered. They were all mindless and timid, all of them. He wouldn’t get any help from them. He had tried to spark their spirit before, but they moved away, as they did now, afraid. There was some that had a remnant of spirit left, he knew, but they were chained too far away. Ah, here it comes. A guttural remark, then in barest rudiments of Common as the two guards approached – but he didn’t pick up the oar. When the guard grabbed him by the thrall collar, gaggling and choking with the blood that filled his lungs, Ferethor instinctively brought down the metal end of his cuffs hard on the man’s wrist, noting its sickening crunch with mixed feelings of satisfaction and terror. Terror soon gained the upper hand. Usually he would not do anything so stupid – he would let himself be sworn at and beaten around some without unnecessary defiance, which would doubtless bring the steel-tipped whips into play. But… War. War against… Gondor? He couldn’t help shuddering convulsively. One, two seconds passed? The man fell. He was dropped by the first man, so that he was left in the position of half-kneeling along with the rest. The one he had hit recovered in a moment and sat up from the wooden plank, gesturing angrily at Ferethor and reaching for his weapon. No. Please. Can’t take it anymore… The whips cracked in the air, an ominous sound at best, but worse if you heard it cut into flesh and sinews. Especially your own. He moaned, falling onto his knees, and before he could brace himself came one blow and another time after time in quick succession. Usually these stopped after a dozen, or the slave might be rendered useless for the day – but it went on and on – enough that blood and flesh splattered all over, some of the weaker slaves covered their eyes, and he soon lost consciousness hanging limp by the chains.

Gondor. What did it mean? Gondor, and… and…

Last edited by piosenniel; 10-26-2005 at 02:22 AM.
piosenniel is offline  
Old 10-26-2005, 01:04 PM   #14
Fordim Hedgethistle
Gibbering Gibbet
 
Fordim Hedgethistle's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: Beyond cloud nine
Posts: 1,842
Fordim Hedgethistle is a guest of Tom Bombadil.
He felt rather than saw day crawl over the ship as it rolled on the waves, for in the blackness of this pit there was no light to see by. As the sun climbed the sky it warmed the wood of the mighty vessel and the hull creaked about Chakka as though it were an old woman coming awake. As much as he might hate the Corsairs, their skill in shipbuilding had always been a wonder to him. Even here, in the lowermost decks with naught but the bilge beneath him, the deck was dry and solid. He waited, and planned.

Chakka knew that the captain would come for him soon, as the final moments of the poison’s effects – were the poison still in him – fast approached. Chakka lay back upon the deck and tightened his entire frame into a rigid pole. He held that tightness until he could feel his muscles beginning to cramp and the false agony slowly became real. Still he held on, forcing his body deeper and deeper into pain. He knew that the captain could not be fooled by dumbshow. When he came, he expected to see a slave in the throws of genuine agony and Chakka was determined that this is what he should see. On cue, Chakka’s body became a tightened knot and he felt control of his muscles slip from him. His limbs were on fire now, but still he held on, his teeth clenched with such ferocity that he felt them grinding together, and from the palms of his hands there came trickles of blood as his nails pushed their way into his flesh. Ever more tightly did he clench his mighty frame, wrapping it about the white heat of his desire for freedom, and soon the pain had carried him away to the place where his spirit walked when dreaming.

Divorced now from the physical reality of his self-inflicted torture, he considered his options. The captain would not be so foolish as to trust him again with any measure of freedom, but what he meant to do was as yet a mystery to Chakka. The oars were his most likely destination and escape from there would be well nigh impossible – well nigh he reminded himself. It was unlikely that Chakka would be put to death for he was a valuable commodity. The captain may suspect him in the loss of the guard he had killed, but as there was no way to produce a body there was no way to prove that the man had not simply fallen over the rail in a drunken stupor. At any rate, Chakka doubted that the captain would rate the loss of a common seaman over Chakka.

His mind turned once more to thoughts of escape. He had learned much of the people aboard this ship in his time before the captain’s door, so he was aware of the tension between the mighty lords and Raka. He could tell that there was distrust there, and possibly enmity – perhaps, if the situation arose, there would be a way to exploit that? If he could get close enough to the lords to speak with them, perhaps he could offer then ways of getting at Raka that they did not suppose existed. On the other hand, both of the lords made ample use of the slaves – perhaps he could insinuate himself into their service to help Raka…at least until he could manipulate circumstances and enable his escape.

A new spasm through his ribs brought him back to reality. His muscles, he realised, were beginning to tear under the immense pressure he had brought to bear upon his body. Still, he willed his body to continue in its stance. He had to convince the captain that the poison was still upon him; he had to convince the captain that he did not possess the secret of escaping his control…
Fordim Hedgethistle is offline  
Old 10-26-2005, 03:20 PM   #15
The Perky Ent
Maniacal Mage
 
The Perky Ent's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: Setting sail for Umbar, with Firefoot at my side!
Posts: 3,332
The Perky Ent has just left Hobbiton.
Send a message via AIM to The Perky Ent
“It should not be much more than an hour before we are ready to set sail; they mostly await your order.” said Menelcar, pointing to the ships in the dock. Each was a fine example of the craftmanship of Gondor, their great masts pointing to the heavens. "All that I have expected are here. The men of Ethring, I believe, were ambushed by raiders and needed to tend to their wounded. I heard word that the ships from Ras Morthil were not ready, but that they would send their ships for Umbar as soon as possible. We have what we will need for the voyage, but I doubt not much more." Telumehtar said, handing the list back to Menelcar. "Oh, and Menelcar, there's one more thing I wanted to talk to you about. In the event that-" but Telumehtar was interrupted, as a tall man walked over to him and quickly saluted. "My lord, I bring word from Captain Hereric. The Cuivië is ready for you to board." said Hereric's left-tenate, as he gave another short salute. "Thank you soldier. " Telumehtar said, as he walked on to the ship. Behind him, Menelcar lingered for a moment and approached the left-tenate. "I trust my cabin is to my specifications?" Menelcar said, giving an almost unapproved glace at the soldier. "Yes" the soldier said dully. Taken apack, Menelcar retorted "That's yes sir. For your sake, don't make that mistake again on the ship. We're fighting a war that requires constant vigilance" and quickly walked over to Telumehtar, who had now boarded the Cuivië.

At the very stern of the ship, Telumehtar met Hereric. Hereric seemed rather stressed, but calm enough to greet the king warmly. "My lord! Your presence is most welcome aboard my ship. I trust my left-tenate assisted to your needs. I have everything ready for departure, and the men only await your orders" Hereric said, showing his approval of the king's presence. "Very well" Telumehtar said, walking over to the very stern of the ship, where he held onto a rope to get better leverage. "Soldiers of Gondor!" Telumehtar shouted, drawing his sword and raising it into the air. "Man your ships! We sail now for Umbar!"

Throughout Harlond, there was a crowd of men boarding the ships. It really was a sight to see how so many men could fit into the ships stationed. A strong wind east for a while down the harbor, but then dwindled until it dissapeared into the cool summer's air. Once all the men had boarded the ships, Telumehtar walked up to Hereric and whispered "South, if you please" giving a wink. Slowly, the ship was removed from the harbor, and sailed slowly for Umbar. There seemed to be a bit of confusion in the boat behind Telumehtar, but the ships all pulled their acts together and followed his lead down the long Anduin River.

Last edited by The Perky Ent; 10-27-2005 at 08:26 PM.
The Perky Ent is offline  
Old 10-26-2005, 04:37 PM   #16
Alcarillo
Shadow of the Past
 
Alcarillo's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: Minas Mor-go
Posts: 1,032
Alcarillo has just left Hobbiton.
Captain Vórimandur watched the king move down the pier to his flagship, speaking with his assistant and the ship's captain. Vórimandur soon became disinterested and turned his attention to the last report on the Ráca's supplies. It sat on his desk, and Vórimandur moved from the window and to his cushioned stool, and his eyes passed over the last paperwork before sailing to Umbar. Written in the neat, tight handwriting of the purser was an account of every single nail to sail aboard the ship. His mind drifted away from the dull matter at hand and soon he was thinking of the great naval battles he would take part in, how he would avenge the sinking of the Telpelingwë, and how he would bring undying glory to him and his crew, and how the name of the Ráca would one day be immortal, forever read about by schoolchildren in their history lessons. Yes, they would one day read about how Captain Vórimandur burned the Corsair flagship and slew its cruel captain, and reduced the Lords of Umbar to client kings, paying golden tribute to Gondor each year in their shame. They would read his great tales and his memory would never be forgotten.

A horn blew somewhere on the docks, and men began to shout. Captain Vórimandur was knocked out of his reverie and hastily signed the supply notice with his favorite pen. He stood and adjusted Sercendil at his side. This was an important occasion that required one to look his best. He took a deep breath and left his lavish office at the stern, moving through the ship. Sailors and soldiers saluted as he passed. Oh, it was good to be sailing again, to have the wind at one's back and adventure laid before your feet. Captain Vórimandur climbed a flight of stairs, and emerged into the sun. He stood on the quarterdeck, and the crew seemed to know now to sail and only anticipated his command. He gave it:

"Set sail!"

With that the sailors leapt into the rigging, moving as deft as spiders in a web. Captain Vórimandur always secretly envied their skill, for when he was only a sailor of the lowest rank he was assigned to duties on and below deck, and never could climb like his peers. But he was a captain and would not let such desires get in the way of his duties. He saw Caradhril, who instantly took his place at the helm. "Follow the King's ship!" He called. "Aye, sir!" was the reply. By now sails were unfurled, and the ship sailed from the pier, part of the great armada to Umbar.

Captain Vórimandur saw Morgond about to go below deck. "Morgond! Come! Have you gathered the sailors on the docks."

Morgond approached. He was a tall man with a large build, larger than Vórimandur and most of the other crewmembers. Vórimandur trusted him; he had been the Master-at-Arms for some years now and had never erred. "Aye, sir," he said, saluting, "About ten or so sailors and a few soldiers. Caught some by the tavern."

"Good, Morgond," Vórimandur gazed towards Harlond receding behind them, "Bring them to my office in an hour. I want a word with them."

"Aye, sir."

Last edited by Alcarillo; 10-28-2005 at 11:51 PM.
Alcarillo is offline  
Old 10-26-2005, 07:13 PM   #17
Eorl of Rohan
Ghost Prince of Cardolan
 
Eorl of Rohan's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Location: Seoul, South Korea
Posts: 602
Eorl of Rohan has just left Hobbiton.
Out of the frying pan into the fire

Ferethor had been awake for some time now. He had shifted himself into a sitting position, painful as it was, his back against the wood-paneled walls damp with mold and the dark breath of the sea. The chill of the darkness closed around him as if a burial shroud. He was almost thankful for the intense pain that seared his awareness now and then, a stark relief all the more brutal because he knew the reason for his fear - he dreaded being left alone with his memories. Linvail. No, control yourself. Not now. How had he come here in the first place? He raised his hand to the brow where a cold sweat of agony had broken out, and then he remembered. Faintly. He was released from his chains, after a skirmish with a guard that resulted in this - Here he wryly smiled - and thrown into this clammy confines of the slave quarters where he was left to recuperate as best as he might. Little chance of that. He had slept less than half an hour. Worn out as he was, there was something else that persistently demanded his attention - war.

Assuming that he was sane, e.g. not hearing imaginary voices, he had heard that war was afoot. Not the small raids, pirating, or some such, but a real war on a larger scale than ever before, against Gondor. The land of stone… What memories had he kept of his motherland? Minas Anor, twin to Minas Ithil, where he was born and raised. Its tall battlements. The massive harbors that sparkled with thousand dancing flames at every sunrise. The soldiers, strong and faithful. He remembered the sound of their swords clashing against their shields, the troops raising their voice as one in the ancient battle cries. And… His king. Telumehtar, wise and great, and remembering him, he again told himself that Gondor could not lose. But… If it does… What then? If he was free, at least he could throw himself upon the blades of his enemies and die a valiant death, even though there would be no one to sing of the valor of the last soldiers of Gondor. But here, bound by chains both material and invisible, the latter being the sea – nowhere to escape to even if he was free – what could he do? He asked himself this question again and again, although there was no answer forthcoming. What could he do, restricted in his every movement, alone?

Perhaps - Ferethor let the last sentence dangle unfinished as he involuntarily stole a glance in the other prisoner's direction. For there was another thrall, other than he, although he did not stir the whole time he had been here... Who was he? Liquid illumination seeped through the cracks in the boards, alighting for a moment on the closed eyes of the thrall before winking away. It was enough to reveal the features of his countenance. His name was what... Chakka? Could he use him to his advantage? Ferethor considered for a moment, and decided that this matter could wait. He had patience enough.

The most pressing of concerns was to assess his injuries. He gingerly ran a hand over his wounds, which had scarcely closed and bled afresh at his touch. Trivial. He had earned worse at their hands. But then, ha. The circumstances were different. The worst hiding that he could remember was when he stabbed their captain, Rakin, with a shard of his dead comrade’s bone – aiming for the heart, too, but he had blocked it in time with his wrists. If he, Ferethor Steele, remembered the wrongs done him, it was not likely that he would forget who gave him that jagged scar on his left wrist. His laughter was abrupt and brutal, and very short-lived.

Then, silence, his hand frozen over his shoulder wound, which was deeper than he had expected. A lot deeper. The guard’s dagger had knifed cleanly through his muscles, and laid the flesh open to the horrifyingly white shoulder-bones peeking through the torn muscles. Blood was welling out of it like a hot spring, frothing and bubbling, so that for no reason whatsoever he suddenly remembered a half forgotten rhyme – where the noldor slew the foamriders and stealing drew… His whole body was shaking with unexplainable cold. The scalding blood poured down his shoulder and stained the rough planks on which he crouched, making a rich, deep red stain that the planks soaked up gladly. His touch, he realized too late, had torn open the half-closing wound. A mistake. Should have been more careful. Too late. The blood disappeared into cracks between the coarse flooring, drip, drip, drip. Just beneath the slave quarters was the workplace itself, and the blood might be dripping down on their heads, the methodical, melodious drip, drip, drip… He was hallucinating, he knew, and tried to wrench himself away. But he had lost too much blood, from the whipping and now this. He couldn’t even move.

The persistent melody recurring over and over in his mind was the song of the kinslayers and the death of Felagund.

Last edited by Eorl of Rohan; 10-27-2005 at 05:47 AM.
Eorl of Rohan is offline  
Old 10-27-2005, 10:49 AM   #18
Amanaduial the archer
Shadow of Starlight
 
Amanaduial the archer's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: dancing among the ledgerlines...
Posts: 2,397
Amanaduial the archer has just left Hobbiton.
Send a message via AIM to Amanaduial the archer
Rakin

"You removed them from the company of the other slaves, I presume?"

"As were your orders, Captain; they're in 'ere..."

If the two slaves in the small, darkened room heard the voices in the corridor, they didn't let on - as Rakin peered through the grating in the door, he registered only two ragged lumps. Focusing on the larger of the two, the Captain peered at Chakka through narrowed eyes, gazing at him unblinkingly for several moments, but the giant slave could have been a bundle of leather and rags for all the life he displayed. Rakin watched him for a moment longer, then stepped back and, somehow lazily, kicked the door open.

The other slave, sprawled on the opposite side of the claustrophobic room from Chakka, flinched at the sudden light, blinking against it as Rakin slowly stepped down, knowing full well the striking silhouette he would make against the darkness that the two slaves had been kept in since the night before – a dank, swaying, fishy sort of darkness. An altogether unpleasant abode, without windows, a sealed, handless door and a floor that was often up to two metres under water – and a flooding cell always made an interesting prospect, certainly, for bound prisoners who had displeased the captain. Maybe, to that extent, he was like his brother – make the children sing, my darlings, make ‘em sing… As Rakin stepped forward, the other slave made a clumsy lunge towards him, but seemed to sway back as if disorientated from his target almost immediately – the boatswain grabbed him immediately, pulling him back and shoving him unceremoniously against the wall, his head striking it with a thump that Rakin seemed to ignore entirely: his eyes were focused on Chakka’s muscular frame as he approached like a wolf stalking his prey.

“Chakka.”

The single word, softly spoken, was a command – a command to which its intended did not respond, his eyes closed and body as stiff and motionless as a corpse already in the grip of rigor mortis. The boatswain grimly started forward, but Rakin held up a hand, fluttering the other corsair to a halt. He took another step forward and tried once more. “Chakka, look at me.”

Again, the words provoked no response from the slave. Rakin sighed gently, his expression almost regretful as he half-turned away – then swung around once more and viciously kicked the slave in the ribs, his fine features contorted into a twisted animal glare. Both the boatswain and the now groggy Ferethor flinched slightly despite themselves – despite the former having known Rakin for nearly a decade, he had never got quite used to the Captain’s sudden vicious changes of mood; it was like working for a wolf, and no matter how well you would trust him with his life, as he tracks down his prey you can never be quite sure whether you’ll be the next to end up on his plate. The slave barely moved, but at least this time Rakin was greeted with a reaction – a long, low groan, the sound of an animal in pain as he slumped over onto his side. Rakin seemed about to lash out again, but at the last minute held himself in check and, almost delicately, he stepped over the prone form of his victim and squatted down in front of his face, pushing his coat back casually as he did so – something in it clinked mutely, a concealed threat under the Captain’s fine clothes. Pushing back the slave’s head distastefully with one long finger, the Captain tilted his head to on side, and the boatswain thought he saw a smile flickering in the glitter of his eyes in the dim light. Looking up, he smiled wickedly at his fellow corsair.

“Well, my dear, if you won’t look at me, we may just have to take those pretty eyes out altogether? What do you think, Master Steele?”

Ferethor looked across, vaguely recognising his name even through the fog that settled its weight more heavily on his mind with every further drop of blood that leaked from his shoulder and back. Rakin regarded him for a moment, his lip lifting into a sneer once more as the barely concealed threat lay between them, then he snorted slightly and looked away. “A slave revolt by a dimwit and the gentle giant here…” Straightening up, he prodded Chakka experimentally with the toe of his boot. With half an hour until midday, he knew what Chakka’s condition should be like under the influence of the poison – as the sun rose to ascend the peak of the sky, if it worked correctly, she would steal away the slave’s sight as her coronation prize. If it worked correctly… But Chakka had not been that stupid, surely. Head still tilted to one side, Rakin tapped two fingers against his lips thoughtfully, then jumped the few steps into the corridor ahead of the boatswain. “Blindfold him, Master Boatswain – blindfold him and take him to my rooms.”

“You wouldn’t like me to rectify his attitude a little more permanent, like, Captain Rakin?”

Rakin smiled angelically back down at the other man, his face the picture of innocence with a halo of light from behind it. “Oh gods, my dear man, no. No, myself and Chakka will enjoy a…a little drink together. And when she sun rises to her peak, then we’ll see if he’ll look me in the eye.”
Amanaduial the archer is offline  
Old 10-27-2005, 12:19 PM   #19
Hiriel
Wight
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: Sleeping in the South, dreaming of Umbar
Posts: 135
Hiriel has just left Hobbiton.
Send a message via AIM to Hiriel
Ink slunk down the fleshy canals of fingerprints as Lord Azaryan finally shook off his cousin and retired to his cabin to attend the state business that had been forced on him ere the Flame and Fortune set sail. Crinkled, tense ledgers, maps, and memorandums sprawled across his desk, and if looks could kill, Captain Rakin’s ship would be aflame. Azaryan felt the hairs on his back wilt slightly as old debts to Haradwaith, some local holdups in the courts, a conscription problem clawed for his attention and Sangalazin’s bountiful morning wasted into true afternoon. Only the first item was truly important. Most of the ships being fitted in his harbors had started their life thanks the coffers of the desert clans, who were know clamoring for repayment and spoils. Thus, Pelargir.

There were some times when he wished, at the very least, that Sangalazin had beat him into the world. Duties of administration worked in much the same manner as a shattering rain, he found. It brought out the ache in his old wounds. Feeling his head begin to swell, Azaryan quit the cabin, oddly twitchy and impotent since the ship he paced was not under his direct care. His frown firmly entrenched, clearing his throat with a coarse “Ha’hrmph” at intervals when the sound would startle members of the on-watch as he passed, Azaryan watched the calm waves of the Anduin’s mouth with a quiet sense of helplessness.

Just as he was about to return to the his cabin, perhaps to tackle the courts or perhaps to glare at maps of Harlond, Rakin and his boatswain climbed out from the hold, tugging behind a bound Southron slave towards the captain’s cabin. Ahh, the incident belowdecks from the dawn, he thought, nodding in slow sagacity to the man’s back. “A word, Captain,” He called and enjoyed Rakin’s look of surprise when he tensed and turned around. “My lord?” His reply was respectful, if restrained. “Is that the slave responsible?” Azaryan gestured at the thing doubled over and breathing heavily under the hard grip of Rakin’s boatswain. “Aye, my lord.” The captain’s voice even further bridled, Rakin seemed to be searching his face for something, approbation or curiosity or disapproval. Azaryan allowed a flickering grin to dart across his face when the captain found nothing.

“You will deal with it privately and as you see fit, of course.” Azaryan broke the silence smoothly. “Yes, my lord, I plan on –“ Rakin started, but Azaryan held up his hand. “Tis your affair, not mine, Captain. But my advice to you is this,” He knelt down to the level of the slave and gripped its bescared cheekbones to turn it to face him. The strength in his hand, or the weakness of the slave’s current state, startled the thing and brooked no resistance. “Deal with this not just in private. If I were this ship’s captain, I would bring the lot of the wretches chained ondeck, flog one to death in front of them all, and quarter it. Leave the limbs tacked inside the slave decks as a reminder. It need not even be the one at fault. They must needs learn that disobedience,” And here he spoke to the shivering creature beneath his grip more than to Rakin, “will hurt not only the impudent, but also the innocent.”

Straitening up, he released the slave and turned to face the master, whose short frown showed he was not keen to make an example of his own property. “I will consider your wisdom, my lord.” “Do.” The Lord of Umbar nodded in stern condescension. “There will be fresh slaves aplenty at Pelargir, and soft farmers make good dociles.” Rakin merely forced a quiet, “Indeed, my lord,” and with a bow continued on his way. Azaryan was beginning to like the young captain, so clearly bristling with aggravation at a higher power holidaying in the world he ruled. Perhaps he would find a way to keep himself busy after all.

Last edited by Hiriel; 10-27-2005 at 09:17 PM.
Hiriel is offline  
Old 10-27-2005, 12:24 PM   #20
Folwren
Messenger of Hope
 
Folwren's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Location: In a tiny, insignificant little town in one of the many States.
Posts: 5,228
Folwren is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.Folwren is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.
'South, if you please,' the king said, stepping towards Captain Hereric.

Hereric glanced at King Telumehtar and bowed slightly before speaking. ‘South, sir,’ he repeated. ‘As soon as we are underway.’ He stepped to the rail. ‘Forimar - send the men up and make sail.’

‘Aye, aye, sir,’ his bosun replied, saluting him at the same time. He turned about, and called out the orders. The men on deck sprang to the ladders to obey. Calls were sent below deck and more sailors came up - some going to the windlass to bring up the anchors, and others to the ropes.

Within minutes, the ship swayed free of any bonds to the earth and her bow turned towards the open water under the skilled hands of the coxswain. Captain Hereric stood before the wheel and watched the Cuivië spring into action. He felt the slight, excited quiver in her joints as the sails filled with air and caught every ounce of wind that past them and he shared her joy. The last sail was loosed and the ropes at the bottom bound. Hereric lifted his face slightly and watched with piercing concentration as the crew finished setting the sails and came back down to the deck.

‘Bring her into the wind, Bregin,’ he said, turning his head a little to the side.

‘Aye, sir.’ The wheel turned and her head moved towards the South. The Cuivië sprang forward, like a dog having been kenneled for too long, and the water before her bowsprit flung up foam. Hereric smiled slightly and turned.

‘If your majesty will, I can show you your cabin,’ he said. The king’s eyes were tracing every sail and curve of the ship. Hereric admired the bright eagerness in them. ‘My lord...’ he said quietly.

‘Yes,’ Telumehtar said, lowering his gaze from the sails to the captain. ‘Show us.’ Hereric turned at once and led them down the steep stairs to the deck. He opened the door of the great cabin and stepped back to allow the king and his attendant to enter before him.

‘Due to the circumstances, sir, we couldn’t quite settle you with as much room as on a normal voyage.’ Hereric indicated towards the adjustments that had been made to the cabin. ‘I have taken the liberty of assuming that you would like your counselor here to be nearby.’ A section had been walled off and the hammocks hung in such away to give both men the privacy that land men expected, but seamen never received. It took up half of the regular cabin and the remaining room was occupied with a small table, filled with neatly stacked papers, and two chairs. ‘It will do, I hope.’ He didn’t present it as a question, but as a closed statement. Satisfied or no, both the king and his counselor would have to make do.

Last edited by Folwren; 10-28-2005 at 06:00 PM.
Folwren is offline  
Old 10-27-2005, 10:04 PM   #21
Eorl of Rohan
Ghost Prince of Cardolan
 
Eorl of Rohan's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Location: Seoul, South Korea
Posts: 602
Eorl of Rohan has just left Hobbiton.
Fever is a terrible illness in that it destroys both the body and the living mind. The inflicted is forced to re-live the most traumatic of his half-forgotten memories, hereto locked away by the unconscious mechanism of mind to prevent misery and madness. Often this process is painful not only for the victim, but for those who are tending him as well. However, like all things beneath heaven and on earth, even fever-induced hallucinations may be surmounted by violent emotions the like of which Ferethor held for Rakin…

He had been whimpering and tossing about restlessly before he came in. Ferethor’s sleep, broken now and then in moans and mutterings, was interrupted at that moment by a creak of the doorway and a voice that he thought he recognized… Could it be Rakin? Consciousness flickered in and out. He would be suicidal if he thought anyone had seen him like this, and when it was that man… Come on, at least sit up, say something, for Eru’s sake, to reveal any weakness of his… Ferethor curled into a shivering ball, the countenance deathly pale, his breathing weak and punctuated with wet coughs that soaked his sleeve with liquid blood. There was his name mentioned, wasn’t there? Or was it just his mind playing tricks on him? It all made little sense to him. Overlapping all sounds and thoughts were the drip, drip, incessant drip of his blood, soaked up by the thirsty planks that thrived on pain and death and blood and… and… hate. A hard feeling, like a steel rod, and enough to jerk him to a brief awareness. The last sentence he caught was as follows – take him to my room. Everyone knew what that sentence meant, and for an instant Ferethor managed to capture a wisp of pity for Chakka. It disappeared as quickly as it appeared, though. In his profession, there was no room for anything other than the primal instinct of survival. Those who couldn’t rouse it died. Now it was time to try his limits –

“Oh gods, my dear man, no. No, myself and Chakka will enjoy a…a little drink together. And when she sun rises to her peak, then we’ll see if he’ll look me in the eye.” He heard, and it took a moment for it to register.

THAT was definitely Rakin. It is not certain that any other emotion would have roused Ferethor who was so far into the state of lethargy, but these last words were enough to snap the last ties to the unconsciousness that held him fast. Ferethor’s eyes opened, unfocused for a moment on the rough-shod planks that lined the ceiling of the slave shelter, wavering, like a half-drowned man recovering from the throes of death... Then he closed it for a moment in pain, and when he opened it again, it was the cold gray eyes of a man who could make a decision and act on it on the spur of the moment. And that was what he did.

When Chakka and the two others went out, it didn’t take long for Ferethor to slip a piece of plank in the sill of the door to serve as a wedge against the door closing completely. Then he was out – a bloody mess, certainly, and weak enough to cause little harm, but free. Now, if that trail of blood didn’t show, it would be a lot better to hide – there was no place to hide in this small ship, he knew, but he needed only to hide until he had Rakin pitted on his own spear. Although he wasn’t going to be able to when he was this weak – was there any place to go? Always go to the least place the other would think of searching for you. The answer immediately supplied itself. The sailor’s barracks. Half an hour later, before any alarm has been aroused – and why would there be an alarm, when Rakin has just been and the slaves still at the oars? – Ferethor had easily dispatched an unwary sailor, threw his body to the waves, and had slipped into the uniform with the very wholesome and natural intention to kill Rakin. The ship was big enough that no one would notice the disappearance of a sailor or the appearance of another – at least, not for something more than two hours hence. Therefore, no one took notice of the sailor-clad man leaning on the wall of the captain’s room, as if tired, with his eyes closed, and listening with mingled tension and curiosity. Rakin was inside – that much he could gather – but the sentences were fragmented and hard to hear.

He let his guard down after a while in his desire to hear more, confident that no one could hear him, another mistake that could cost him his life or not. But he was beyond caring.

Last edited by Eorl of Rohan; 10-27-2005 at 10:08 PM.
Eorl of Rohan is offline  
Old 10-28-2005, 10:50 AM   #22
Anguirel
Byronic Brand
 
Anguirel's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: The 1590s
Posts: 2,825
Anguirel is a guest of Tom Bombadil.
Sangalazin's Dream

Sangalazin strolled from the foredeck where his dear, dear cousin was beginning to pontificate to Captain Chatazrakin on one of his favourite themes-the treatment of galley-slaves. The younger Lord smiled as he heard the familiar, brash sentences lash his back as he retreated. Making an example...really, cousin Azaryan had no grace, no nobility, nothing of Numenor about him at all, Sangalazin thought with a wide grin. The chance that this brutal ape, with a mind that scratched jarred tunes with the versatility of a rock, that this leaden Lord would ever ascend Gondor's throne...

No. Azaryan was not a King, but a Kingmaker. Sangalazin would use his cousin's falchion, the respect of his cousin among the Corsairs, to win Minas Anor. Any Castamirion who seriously sought Gondor needed the ships; and the ships would not obey Sangalazin, the perfumed stranger with the slimy tongue. He knew this too well. They would not obey him until the game was his.

Sangalazin had gone below into his own quarters; a part of the ship which rendered all else common and brackish, furnished at the Lord's expense. Where solid beech formed floors outside, Sangalazin trod on rosewood. Around him wall-paintings, frescoes after the style of Numenor, flowed like some divine stream, convincing, captivating, slightly chilling. One cycle was devoted to the gifts of the Sea, ever a friend to Castamir's line. The Gods of the Ocean stood arrayed in all their might; Ussun the Terrible, Master of the Sea, and Vineth, his beauteous consort, bearing their names first in the tongue of Umbar, then in Haradric, and then in Sindarin, tongue of the Faithful-

~Osse and Uinen~

Sangalazin was a scholar in all of these languages and more. He had learnt Quenya to an elegant standard from an ancient, diminutive tutor as a boy; he had studied the Silvan accent Sindarin acquired in the fabled forests to the North; he had paid a fortune to a trader to obtain a parchment with three words of Khuzdul; he could speak like a native in Westron, Southron, Easterling...

For Sangalazin realised that if the Castamirioni were to prevail, it was crucial that they be identified with the Faithful in the minds of the people, not the servants of Ar-Pharazon the Golden. They must stress their heritage as the truest, purest line of descent from the Lords of Andunie. Their cause was legitimate, just. But they had more than battles on land and sea to win. Eldacar and his progeny had increasingly propagandised them as foreigners, traitors, swarthy men who worshipped foreign demons, Corsairs who rode black ships and spared none. But they were the heirs of Elendil. And Sangalazin would show that, when he ruled his vast, humane, benevolent and civilised Empire.

The Lord raised one of his long, slender, aureate-skinned hands and caressed the hilt of the longsword he carried. It was emblematic of everything he hoped to achieve. Its style of Gondor, the blade straight and true, double edged for slashing, sharp-pointed for a lunge that such a lovely weapon would never, if its owner could help it, perform. Its scabbard wound in gold and silver, telling the story of lovers from Umbar. So it would be; and the culture in the south mated with the martial tradition of the north would be Sangalazin's gift to Gondor. The Twilight Men would be accepted as vassals, servants, and they would be treated with kindness, content with their proper station. Learning would flourish. Civil war would be at an end; the sensible Black Numenorean custom of putting cadets of the King's family to sleep on a new King's accession would instantly be instituted.

Glowing once more with confidence, Sangalazin's eyes travelled along the painting, leaving the Sea Gods, and landed on a figure that had always puzzled him, at the piece's rim. It was exceptionally well done; Sangalazin suspected that the master artisan must have employed a more brilliant apprentice for this section. It showed the sea ending below a great white cliff, upon which stood a cloaked man...or perhaps an Elf...Sangalazin had often been inclined to think so. His grey eyes stared out across the water, peerless in mourning. The depth of his sorrow made the majesty of Osse and Uinen look tawdry. But it was interesting to Sangalazin for another reason. It reminded him sharply of his father, Sangahyando...and so of himself...and so of...

Captain Chatazrakin. Yes, Sangalazin could deny it no longer, having seen the Captain at close quarters so recently. His father's...mistake...the insult to his beloved mother...had lived. And had grown into the Captain Sangalazin had just left; the only one of lousy sea-captains he had encountered ever to have impressed him. "Rakin" had quality, courage, wit on his own level, he sometimes felt. And such loathing and contempt within that proud spirit...Azaryan was quite another matter, a pompous megalomaniac, but Rakin...Rakin was what a great part of Sangalazin wished he could be. His blood could be a hidden weapon, whipped out from his overcoat like an envenomed thorn, to challenge Sangalazin with one day.

No, he must be...neutralised or conciliated. Sangalazin rang for Andlang, the commander of his black-armoured bodyguard. When the blonde giant stood before him, Sangalazin laid out his commands.

"You were prompt, Andlang, excellent. I know I can rely on you. First, bring me the Easterling musician, and leave us alone. Then send word to the Captain that...when he has a free moment, I should like to play a game of chess with him."
Anguirel is offline  
Old 10-28-2005, 01:54 PM   #23
Firefoot
Illusionary Holbytla
 
Firefoot's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 7,646
Firefoot has been trapped in the Barrow!
Menelcar was still thinking about the left-tenate as the captain led him and the king off to their quarters. His lackadaisical attitude had put him off for several reasons: the sailor had been blatantly disrespectful not only towards him, but also to his ship and his country. They were going to war; the left tenate ought to be proud of his duty, proud and ready. His actions would never have been accepted back when Menelcar was serving in the army. It also reflected poorly on the ship’s captain; Menelcar was not impressed.

His attention was brought back to the present as they approached the cabin. Hereric held open the door, and he followed Telumehtar inside. The room was not tiny, but the cramped cabin was certainly far from spacious, containing only the sparsest of furnishings. Menelcar figured irritably that the captain’s own quarters were probably twice this size.

“Due to the circumstances, sir, we couldn’t quite settle you with as much room as on a normal voyage,” explained Hereric. “I have taken the liberty of assuming that you would like your counselor here to be nearby. It will do, I hope.” Clearly, the statement was not a question, and Menelcar did not intend to sink so low as to argue it as such - certainly not to a man who seemed determined to ignore his presence except as an appendage of the king. Instead, he made a slight noise in the back of his throat that left in no uncertain terms his opinion of the lodgings.

“Certainly, this will be fine,” answered Telumehtar smoothly. Menelcar glanced at him critically, recalling suddenly the king’s claustrophobia and wondering if the cabin really would be “fine.” He could see no indicative signs one way or the other, however; perhaps he would ask later.

Menelcar looked around the cabin once more before his gaze returned to Hereric. He sighed inwardly; this was going to be a long journey. Why the king enjoyed sea travel so much, he would never understand.

Last edited by Firefoot; 10-28-2005 at 04:18 PM.
Firefoot is offline  
Old 10-28-2005, 09:07 PM   #24
Folwren
Messenger of Hope
 
Folwren's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Location: In a tiny, insignificant little town in one of the many States.
Posts: 5,228
Folwren is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.Folwren is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.
Hereric turned his attention abruptly to Menelcar after the king had replied. The slight clearing of his throat had caught his ear and the look on the man’s face confirmed Hereric’s suspicion of his sincerity being doubted.

‘If you care, sir,’ he said, addressing Menelcar, ‘step across this way and look out. The view is really quite excellent.’ He led the way to the very end of the cabin where the great bowed windows looked out over the blue water. ‘Out at sea, the view is really quite impressive,’ he said, leaning against the wood framing. He studied Menelcar carefully and changed the subject suddenly. ‘I hope that you will be able to enjoy yourself on my ship, while the peace lasts. We really have done our best to make things most comfortable and welcome to you. The circumstances now may become worse as battle takes place, and coming up river will be more difficult than going down it. Better let yourself be comfortable while you may, if you see what I mean.’ He gave him a very pointed look before turning back around. ‘My lord,’ he said to the king. ‘I am returning to the deck to see things carried out. You, of course, have free range of the entire ship.’ He saluted and bowed in navy fashion and left the cabin. He quickly made his way back up to the deck.

‘Well, if he’s going to have troubles sleeping where we’ve put him, then by heaven, I’m sure we can find him a place below.’ The captain couldn’t keep the dark thoughts out of his head, even in the bright sunlight. Menelcar’s cold reaction to the apparently tight quarters had shown Hereric only too clearly how little he understood of the ship’s life. ‘What did he expect? An entire gallery for himself? What’s eating him, anyway?’ He couldn’t account for the counselor’s behavior, and he really didn’t want to try. He almost hoped that a direct affront would come quickly, so that he could deal with whatever difficulties they were going to have at once, instead of beating about the bush. ‘In time,’ he promised himself, ‘but you are a captain of a king’s ship, and what’s more, you have the king here, too. . .you’re not going to come up with the disagreement yourself. If he chooses to confront you on a problem of his, so be it. But he is the king’s right hand man, after all - there must be some good use in him.’

He dismissed the thoughts from his mind and did not think of them again - for the time being. His ship asked for his attention, and he gave it to her.
Folwren is offline  
Old 10-29-2005, 02:10 AM   #25
Dunwen
Wight
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 107
Dunwen has just left Hobbiton.
The gulls cried as they danced with stretched wings among the wind-filled sails above Nimir’s head. The Ráca was underway. He was truly going to war; there was no turning back. At least he felt a bit less alone now. Two other strays from the Ráca had barely made it onboard before it slipped smoothly out of its berth after the King’s flagship. Nimir had congratulated them on their safe return with a hesitant smile; he knew them by sight as more experienced soldiers than he was, although they were not above him in rank.

One of the two, Curamir, had made a friendly reply and introduced himself and his companion, Lingwë. Before long the three young men were swapping stories about their backgrounds. It turned out that Nimir wasn’t the only soldier who was unfamiliar with ships. Curamir had never set foot on one before coming to the Ráca , either. The slightly fish-faced Lingwë, on the other hand, was familiar with ships and claimed to be a good swimmer as well. Both Curamir and Lingwë had had at least two years of training compared to Nimir's scant months of basic drill, and both bore swords. Nimir would have been tongue-tied in the face of such experience, had it not been for a chance reference to one of his brothers’ more annoying habits. It turned out that Lingwë also had an irritating older brother also. Curamir said only that he had no brothers or sisters.

Nimir was glad of a chance to finally become better acquainted with some of his fellow soldiers. Inevitably he asked what they were all thinking. “How long before we’re in a battle?”

Curamir speculated that there would some attempt at negotiating first. Nimir brushed such a paltry thought aside. “Negotiate with the Corsairs? King Telumehtar would never do that! Not after all their attacks on Gondor over the years.” His normally friendly eyes snapped with anger at the idea. “The size of this fleet means he's going to war, and I hope I can shoot down a dozen Corsairs myself.” Seeing the startled expressions on his companions’ faces, he took a breath to calm himself. “Sorry,” he apologized. “My father was killed when Corsairs raided our village.” He couldn’t bear to mention the loss of his sister at the same time, even after all these years. He forced himself to smile and ask if it was true that the ship’s Cook used rats in the stew.

Curamir and Lingwë laughed and the conversation turned to the long list of unappetizing foods that were reputed to be served to the sailors and soldiers on Gondor’s ships. As the other two talked, Nimir gazed at the sun-glittered waters of the Anduin as the Ráca sped south. His village was a half-day’s walk northwest of the great delta at Anduin’s mouth. He wondered if they would go by any part of the river he knew. Unlikely, he decided. He wondered if he would ever see his home again, but mentally shook himself out of such dark thoughts. ‘We’re on the best ships and we have King Telumehtar. I have my bow. I'll get back all right.'

Last edited by Dunwen; 10-29-2005 at 02:40 AM.
Dunwen is offline  
Old 10-29-2005, 12:32 PM   #26
Thinlómien
Shady She-Penguin
 
Thinlómien's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: In a far land beyond the Sea
Posts: 7,959
Thinlómien is a guest of Galadriel in Lothlórien.Thinlómien is a guest of Galadriel in Lothlórien.Thinlómien is a guest of Galadriel in Lothlórien.Thinlómien is a guest of Galadriel in Lothlórien.Thinlómien is a guest of Galadriel in Lothlórien.
Send a message via Skype™ to Thinlómien
"Of course you will, Nimir", Lingwë replied quickly, without thinking the phrase. Silence fell. Then he frowned. Would Nimir actually get safely back home? Would he himself? Would Curamir? Only Eru Ilúvatar and Mandos know that, he thought. Maybe we won't. The thought of dying so young was unbearable. For the king and the country, he reminded himself, and for everything I love and appreciate in this country. If we don't crush the traitors, there'll be a day when they'll crush us.

No one of them said anything. Lingwë supposed that Nimir and Curamir were also thinking about dying. Lingwë tried to think of something to say to lighten the atmosphere, but nothing came into his mind. He had never been good in that kind of things; how hard he ever tried he usually ended up being pessimistic. Better to get ready for the worst and rejoice if it doesn't happen, he thought.

Though they remained silent, there was still noise. Seagulls cried. Men chatted with each other while working. Fresh sea wind blew. Great to be on a ship again, Lingwë thought and despite the fact he was going to war and maybe even to death, he smiled.

Curamir noticed his smile. "What is it now, Lingwë?", he asked, clearly wanting to talk about something else. "It's the ship", Lingwë said, smiling. "He's a bit crazy, you know", Curamir said to Nimir with a friendly tone. "You know, it's great to be sailing again. I love the sea", Lingwë said. "It was such fun aboard the Gaerandir."

Encouraged with a few questions from his companions, Lingwë started to tell about his "adventures" aboard the Gaerandir. He had never been a man of talking, but he kept on telling things to banish the ghosts of the former discussion. "Did you ever get to a fight aboard the Gaerandir?" Nimir asked suddenly, when Lingwë had paused after telling about the cook's fancy on turnips. "Twice. Our ship was so well-protected, that many didn't dare to attack it. In the first fight the more experienced soldiers kept us novices at the background, we mostly used bows or were positioned at defense. They said that the first fight was a big enough experience without even getting to fight by self. Back then I wondered why did they do so, but now I understand they didn't trust us enough; they thought we would only be on their way and make things harder. After all, the battle was such a little cratch. No one of us died, and only five got wounded," Lingwë said, smiling to his memories.

"And the other?" Nimir asked. Lingwë got serious. "The second time was a bigger battle with a pirate ship. It wasn't nice and it wasn't glorious. Many died, on both sides. I myself only got lightly wounded, worse things happened to many others." He paused. "I didn't kill anyone", he said, "but a few of my friends did. I heard them speak about it. It wasn't glorious, they said. They said they had had nightmares about it." He didn't add that he himself had had nightmares about the battle, though he hadn't killed anyone. "Well, glorious or not, I will do it if I have to", Curamir said. Nimir nodded. After a while, Lingwë said: "So would I."
Thinlómien is offline  
Old 10-30-2005, 12:55 PM   #27
Kath
Everlasting Whiteness
 
Kath's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Location: Perusing the laminated book of dreams
Posts: 4,510
Kath is a guest at the Prancing Pony.Kath is a guest at the Prancing Pony.
Send a message via MSN to Kath
Curamir had been pleasantly surprised at how quickly he had begun to like his new acquaintance, Nimir. He thought that maybe it had something to do with the similarities they shared. He had been glad to find someone else who was as unfamiliar with ships as himself, knowing now that at least he wouldn't be the only one to make mistakes and be laughed at by the experienced soldiers and sailors. was no help. He found it hilarious to watch Curamir make a fool of himself, though he did always help to right whatever wrong had come of it afterwards.

The revelation that Nimir had given about his father though had been more of a disturbing similarity. Curamir knew of the pain of losing a father, but he wasn't sure that he would be able to share it with such readiness. It had taken him almost a year to tell Lingwë, and he had only really done so with the intent of recruiting him to relay any information he might hear. Nimir though seemed to have a deeper sadness, something even worse than losing a father, though Curamir could not imagine what it might be. He wondered if maybe he should talk to Nimir about it at some point, seeing as his father had obviously been in the army, but he felt it would be insensitive to press for information about it when it was such a sad event.

Realising that a sudden silence had fallen while he had been thinking, Curamir looked up and saw his companions looking a little uncomfortable. Trying to lighten the atmosphere he picked on Lingwë, who began to tell one of his tales. The subject soon turned to fighting again though, and the true horrors of it.

"Well, glorious or not, I will do it if I have to" he had said, and Lingwë and Nimir had agreed.

As they were standing and contemplating the reality of their words, the captain's Master-at-Arms appeared before them with a small group of men behind him. None of them looked too pleased and Morgond wasn't smiling. Ordering them to follow him he marched off. Falling into place behind him Curamir shot a questioning glance at the other members of the group, but they simply shrugged and motioned to keep quiet. Curamir continued to wonder what this was all about, until Morgond stopped outside Captain Vórimandur's office, and he realised that everyone in the group had been off the ship without permission. It must be time for the consequences.

Last edited by Kath; 10-30-2005 at 05:24 PM.
Kath is offline  
Old 10-30-2005, 04:43 PM   #28
Alcarillo
Shadow of the Past
 
Alcarillo's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: Minas Mor-go
Posts: 1,032
Alcarillo has just left Hobbiton.
Captain Vórimandur stood for a bit beside the mainmast, surveying the sailors' work. They moved high up in the rigging as tiny black splotches against the sky, adjusting ropes as needed to move the ship in just the right direction. "Move the ship a little to the left," Vórimandur alerted the crew, and Caradhril would move the wheel slightly to the left, and the ship would lean and creak ever so slightly. The sailors far above might encounter an unforeseen wind, and know what to do to keep the Ráca moving along at an even pace. The ship inched its way past the others, moving towards the head of the long line of ships. There was little room to maneuver, but the crew managed to squeeze the Ráca between the Anduin's wooded banks and a ship, or perhaps between two ships, always moving to the front. Captain Vórimandur watched all this happen with satisfaction and pride.

The sun moved across the sky, and the hour until the errant sailors would meet in his office was drawing to a close. Captain Vórimandur nodded to Caradhril to keep the ship in motion and made his way back to his office. He passed down a set of wooden stairs and into the Ráca's wooden belly. Sailors and soldiers saluted as their captain passed. He saluted back and continued walking through the wooden hallways to his office, which lay at the ship's stern. He passed the carpenter and his small gang of assistants nailing together a new door, and the finely dressed surgeon from Lamedon. All gave their polite, quiet salutes to their captain, who returned the salute together with a courteous nod of the head. He soon came to his office's red door, and drawing a golden key from a pocket, unlocked it and entered.

The office was roomy, and ran from wall to wall across the entire stern. The walls were painted red to match the door. It was very well lit by the same large windows from which Vórimandur had watched the king in Harlond, with white curtains drawn back and a single window open to let a fresh breeze inside. The floor creaked comfortably under Vórimandur's shoes as he walked across the room to his dark, wooden desk, with papers strewn across its surface. He sorted these into piles of no particular subjects. The desk faced the red door, flanked by bookcases with lattice-work doors. They contained works of numerous topics: law, naval tactics, the workings of ships, histories of Númenor and other seafaring powers, and the Ráca's logbooks written by Vórimandur himself. Underneath the two bookcases were sets of drawers, within which lay sea charts, half-empty bottles of wine, letters to family on shore, a wooden flute, a spyglass, the sabres of defeated captains, and numerous other personal mementos and belongings. All of this furniture was nailed to the floors or to the walls, in order to prevent it from sliding out the windows in stormy seas. And on the furthest edges of the room, between each bookshelf and the walls, were two more red doors, one of which led to the captain's small cabin, and another which opened to reveal a closet. In the center of the room lay a red and gold rug imported from Dorwinion, an expensive centerpiece to the already opulent office.

There was a sharp knock at the door, announcing the arrival of Morgond and the errant sailors. Vórimandur stood quickly and straightened the sword at his side. "Come in," he said, and the door swung open, and Morgond led several sailors and soldiers into the office. Captain Vórimandur winced as they stepped across his rug. There was not much room left once they were all inside. There were about fifteen or so sailors, and about five or four soldiers. All of them were youths, unaccustomed to how a ship worked and what was expected of them, and their eyes avoided the captain's gaze by wandering across the floor and the walls. Morgond prodded them into a rough line, and Captain Vórimandur began:

"When we were moored in Harlond, I wanted the Ráca to stand out from the other ships, to be the best ship in the fleet. That's why we cleaned the ship so early in the morning, and loaded all the supplies aboard before the captains of the other ships were even awake. I wanted all of us to be aboard to greet our king, and show His Majesty the true quality of the Ráca. Unfortunately, not all of you were present. Instead of staying aboard like a good sailor, you were off gallivanting on shore!" Captain Vórimandur paused for a moment to consider what punishment should await them. It would be a light punishment; they were young and new to the ship, after all. "I shall punish you with extra chores. I assign you-," and now he pointed to two soldiers, "-to helping Cook wash dishes after each night's meal for the next week. I assign you-," now he pointed to the other two soldiers, "-to cleaning each sword in the aft weapons room." Now he began to assign groups of sailors, "You are to scrub the quarterdeck every day at midday for an hour for the next week, and you are to do the same with the forecastle, and the rest of you are to have your grog rations halved. You are dismissed." And with a salute from Morgond they shuffled out of the room.

Last edited by Alcarillo; 11-02-2005 at 08:31 PM.
Alcarillo is offline  
Old 10-30-2005, 05:00 PM   #29
Amanaduial the archer
Shadow of Starlight
 
Amanaduial the archer's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: dancing among the ledgerlines...
Posts: 2,397
Amanaduial the archer has just left Hobbiton.
Send a message via AIM to Amanaduial the archer
Rakin

Contrary to what the two lords thought of their own luxurious apartments, decorated and lavished with all the frivolities that Rakin had suffered Sangalazin to load onto his ship, the Captain nonetheless held to the opinion that his chambers, not theirs, that were the finest on the ship. Not that he had yet had a good look what exactly the two lords had chosen to do with their rooms – but Rakin had had nearly a decade with the same ship, unusual for any captain but for a corsair especially, and, although Rakin was not naturally a particularly frivolous man, his rooms were…well, they were exactly how he liked them. It was not, after all, unheard of for superior nobles of Umbar to move into the rooms of the Captain of a ship on voyages such as this – but neither Azaryan or Sangalazin had so much as paid a passing interest around Rakin’s rooms. Whether this was a slight, or whether the two Lords simply considered themselves too good to take anything second-hand, this was just fine with him. Based to the front of the ship, under the main deck, Rakin’s quarters, which consisted of a generous two rooms, allowed him a fine view over the sea ahead of them and to both sides – a fine view 180 degree view over his watery domain.

Originally the rooms had been furnished sparsely – what was the point in lavishing too much time and energy on what would probably only prove to be a temporary residence? – but as time had passed, the rooms had picked up ornaments and items apparently of their own accord, Rakin’s personal barnacles. The desk, for example, brought aboard from a raid of a particularly affluent merchant’s village stop, by some whim of the captain’s, made of fine, heavy oak and subsequently screwed to the desk to prevent it shifting its dangerous bulk in stormy weather, was cradled by the curved, windowed side of the room that surveyed the sea; or the floor to ceiling shelves worked into the wall on one side of this, it’s locked doors hiding the captain’s secrets. But scattered around the room were more ornamental items – a rich, dark rug, seemingly woven of a hundred different shades of black, covered the boards; wines and spirits from a dozen different plundered parlours and offices; and, crossed above the door, above his bunk, elegantly adorning spare wall, were the Captain’s special collector’s items – his swords. Rapiers, long swords, daggers, blades curved, straight and serated…they hung, secure and seemingly sedate, but with every edge gleaming with unmistakable malice, around Rakin’s rooms. Deadly yet elegant, the finest blades from a score of shores - undeniably beautiful, but unsettling nonetheless.

It was in his parlour of stolen treasures, sipping a particularly fine red wine, that the Captain now reclined, his boots casually crossed on another chair as he watched with detached interest the figure, bound only at the wrists, that was sprawled on his carpet. The room was almost silent, now the boatswain had left, leaving Chakka and Rakin alone to ‘have a drink’ together, and indeed the Captain gave an air of a gentleman in his club, settled back watching the sun, a drink in his hand. But as the sun rose further, flooding the room with bright sunlight, Rakin turned his head to Chakka and gave him a bright smile, his canine’s glittering fiercely. “Well well, Chakka, looks like the sun is almost at her peak – nearly midday. Will she be leaving with an extra pair of eyes, or are you planning to hang onto your sight for a while longer?”

Chakka did not respond, sprawled tense and still on the rug where the boatswain had left him, his eyes closed tightly shut as in tormented sleep under the blindfold. Rakin gave the prone slave a slightly puzzled look, then took another sip of his wine and set the glass down on the desk. Turning away from Chakka, Rakin faced the windows, surveying his kingdom with satisfaction, his hands gently running over the little vials and instruments that lay on his desk, some apparently designed for medicine making, some for darker means – sharp blades, needle sharp incisor blades, a set of brass knuckles. “And we both know what will happen when midday comes, don’t we? Or at least, we know what should happen…”

Raising his eyes from the dangerous, glinting array, he shaded his eyes against the sun, then nodded slightly to himself – and as if on cue, Chakka gave a long, low groan of pure agony, twisting on the carpet. Rakin raised his eyebrows and nodded once more to himself, like a critic on a performance – had to hand it to the boy, he wasn’t going easily. He’d keep the façade up to the end – if a façade it indeed was, as Rakin suspected. Or knew, rather. For no matter how calculated his imagined demonstration of the poison’s potency, Chakka had one disadvantage against Rakin: he had not actually seen it at work. Rakin had – and while the slave wasn’t exactly a picture, once the poison got to work, it really wasn’t pretty. His eyes, for example—

Rakin turned, an inquisitive scientist, and advanced almost excitedly towards the slave, grasping Chakka’s chin and, turning his chin eagerly from one side to another. There was no response and, under the light coloured blindfold, no blood either. But despite this, Rakin almost began to doubt himself. Chakka was, after all, very strong; maybe the poison would affect him in a different way to the scrawny creature that Rakin had seen the effects demonstrated on previously. But…well, there was only one way to test, wasn’t there? Rakin held Chakka’s chin up, mentally counted to three, then in a quick, vicious movement, ripped the blindfold off, and scrutinised the slave’s face. Despite himself, despite all his self-will and strength of mind, twelve hours in almost pitch darkness followed by bright sunlight even across the eyelids could only yield one result for Chakka, if he still had his sight: his eyelids flickered and, under them, Rakin saw the tell tale glimmer of white. With a triumphant yell, Rakin dropped Chakka back to the floor, resisting the urge to clap his hands in vicious delight, before he retreated a step or two to squat down before the slave, a wide smile twisting his fine features

“Blind man’s bluff, eh, Chakka? Oh, very clever, very clever indeed – although I never really did like that game.” Rakin’s smile faded as quickly as it had come, his mood altering abruptly, and he moved forward, sliding the knife from his boot and pricking it against Chakka’s throat, his eyes narrowing and his face closing up angrily. “Open your eyes, boy, and tell me exactly how you managed to get out of that one.”

Last edited by piosenniel; 10-30-2005 at 10:24 PM.
Amanaduial the archer is offline  
Old 10-31-2005, 09:51 AM   #30
Fordim Hedgethistle
Gibbering Gibbet
 
Fordim Hedgethistle's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: Beyond cloud nine
Posts: 1,842
Fordim Hedgethistle is a guest of Tom Bombadil.
Seeing, quite literally, that his deception had been pierced Chakka took control of his body once more. It was difficult to tear his muscles away from their agony, but with a few deep breaths he stilled his pounding heart and smoothed away the tortured spasms of his sinews. He focused on his heartbeat and his breathing, becoming oblivious to all else, and went deep inside himself to the still point from which his energy came. He observed his legs and arms relax, then his mighty chest unknitted itself, and finally his neck and shoulders loosened, and with a sigh he relaxed against the deck. He lay there for a time, taking in great draughts of air allowing his body the moments it needed to return to life. He felt Rakin’s cold blade against his skin but it did not concern him: had the captain wanted him dead he would simply have thrown the slave overboard in his chains.

He opened his eyes and met the malicious gaze of his captor. He could not help but admire the man and his perceptions. Chakka had seen death in all its moods and tempers and had long practiced the art of mimicking them. His facility with the art had been the gift of his first master in the arts of gladiatorial combat, for there was no knowing when faking a death might not be the best way of escaping the arena alive. Heedless of the knife, Chakka pulled himself erect and sat upon the deck, meeting the captain’s piercing eyes. He did not speak in response to Rakin’s question, but glanced over his shoulder at the wall. The captain, following his gaze, moved to the wall and quickly found the small spyhole that Chakka had bored through it. He turned once more and surveyed his room: he saw the table where he prepared the antidote each morning and Chakka watched as full illumination dawned on Rakin. The captain smiled, and it was not a happy sight. “Well my lad, it would appear that there is more to than meets the eye. I am impressed – and I am not easily impressed. But how did you get the materials…” a delighted light came on behind his eyes. “Ah! I thought that a couple of my vials were being depleted somewhat too quickly. You are clever. Tossed your makeshift key overboard already have you, or…no…” He stepped out into passage for a moment, and when he came back he had in his hand the small store of equipment that Chakka had fashioned and hidden above the loose rafter. “More and more impressive. Impressive indeed.”

Rakin sat himself down once more and sipped at his wine. There was a long silence and Chakka knew that his fate depended on what he said next. Pleading, he knew, would mean his instant death, as would justifications or anger. There was only one thing he could say that would save his life, and even though it tore a hole in his pride like a jagged dagger, he said it. “You have defeated me, Captain. My life is yours to do with as you please.” A slow smile crept across the Captain’s face like a viper. Chakka saw that he had bought his life, but that he was soon to be consigned to an existence that would make it barely worth living. He spoke again, seizing on the one hope that yet remained. “You can send me to the oars, Captain, and leave me there until fatigue and the whip destroy me, but perhaps there is another way. You and I have been enemies, and as enemies I sought to destroy you, and you have thwarted that attempt. I accept your mastery, but I will never accept my enslavement.”

“I do not think that you are in any position to deny that fact,” said the captain.

“True. You have proven that I cannot escape – perhaps we can strike a bargain of some sort?” The captain was intrigued, but he said nothing. Chakka continued. “You admit that I have impressed you. I should, for I am unlike any slave you have seen. I am trained in the art of combat: this you know, it is why you selected me as your bodyguard. But I have shown myself resourceful and determined. Would it not be better to have me as an ally than as an enemy, even if only a defeated one?”

“An ally against whom, slave?”

“You forget, Captain, that I lived outside that very door for weeks. I know the state of your relations with the lords who are aboard this ship. I know that you feel uncertain of them: why else would you have secured my services as your guard? I can be of use to you with them. Send me back to the oars as punishment, but speak highly of me to the lords. Tell them how much you paid for me, and how impressive I am. Say how you wish for me to rot in the hold until I die. Let them know how much it would grieve you for me to ever see the light of day again. I have seen enough of these lords – of that one peacock in particular – to know that they will not pass up the opportunity of amusing themselves while annoying you. They will send for me. I will entertain them, I will please them – I will gain access to their chambers as I did to yours. Would it not be more…comfortable…for you knowing that you had an ally in that position?”

“And what,” Rakin asked, “would be the price of such an alliance?”

“My freedom, Captain. My freedom.”
Fordim Hedgethistle is offline  
Old 10-31-2005, 02:16 PM   #31
Amanaduial the archer
Shadow of Starlight
 
Amanaduial the archer's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: dancing among the ledgerlines...
Posts: 2,397
Amanaduial the archer has just left Hobbiton.
Send a message via AIM to Amanaduial the archer
Rakin

Rakin surveyed the slave for an instant, then sat back, his eyebrows arched cynically. "You must think me mad, slave. An 'ally in your position'? You have already tried to take my ship over, kill my crew and, naturally, kill me as well - and this is just counting the most recent twenty four hours." He raised one eyebrow, narrowing his eyes, and stood abruptly, turning away from the slave. "Oh yes, Chakka, a most inviting prospect."

"You cannot pretend, Captain, that it is not without appeal to you.”

Rakin turned sharply, his hand tightening on the knife as he searched for cheek in the slave’s face, but found it only impassive – not submissive, certainly, but then he had not expected it. The Captain didn’t make a habit of paying particular interest to individual slaves – maybe one might catch his eye and he might amuse himself with it for a few weeks, or a few months maybe, but eventually, inevitably, they would slip up in some way – try to escape, get to big for their boots, make an open attempt on his life. Poor fools. Sometimes the warder could allow the prisoner the sight of the sun from his tall tower, but when he tried to fly for it, the same fate always resulted. But this one, this Chakka…Rakin remembered buying him, not long ago, a slave fighter, one who fought for the entertainment of watching crowds, usually comprised of nobles. A mercenary of the masses. But one could not deny his strength – he was roughly the same height as Rakin himself, but built entirely differently, broad and thick in the chest where the captain was lean and muscular in a different way. In a fair fight, he mused, it would probably depend entirely on what training Chakka had with weapons, and on whose terms the fight came about… But idle musing was all it was. This was Rakin’s corsair ship: if there was to be a fight of any sort, it was very unlikely that it would in any way be fair.

“What did you do in your previous life, Chakka?”

There was a pause, then the slave replied, “I was a bodyguard.” He hesitated, then added, “I do not jest, Captain, to try to further my argument; I was a king’s bodyguard.”

“Maybe it is exactly that fact that worries me,” Rakin murmured in reply, raising an eyebrow although he was facing the window rather than Chakka. Raising his voice slightly, he replied, “You judge that to be your previous life, Chakka? What about before you became a slave?”

There was silence, not simply a pause this time but the adamant, stubborn absence of any forthcoming answer. Rakin nodded slightly to himself, then turned around, indicating one of the swords on the wall, an unusually long, two handed broadsword, pitted and scarred all down it’s extensive length. “You see this sword, Chakka? See it?” The slave nodded warily, his eyes never moving from the Captain. Rakin nodded once more. “It is a fine weapon indeed; it belonged to a warrior I fought once, on land rather than sea – a fine man, he fought exceptionally well but, rather than let us capture him, his last act of defiance against me and my crew was to take his own life with his very weapon. Pity, really – he would have been one who I would offer a place aboard my ship, for he truly was an excellent fighter.” He tilted his head to one side, his eyes dancing over the blade as if he was watching some movement across its silver blade. Behind him, Chakka didn’t move – wisely, bearing in mind the reflective nature of the metal surface that faced into the room. The Captain continued after a moment, “Anyway, some of my crew warned me against taking such a weapon on board – they said it would be cursed, that the man’s soul might be trapped inside it. Well, if it is, it would be an honour, I replied, for to be able to harness his strength within a weapon equally fine…a fine thing indeed. And this sword...it has been in many fights already, it is experienced and made specifically for that purpose, for it is superbly weighted so as to make the best of the strength of a strong enough man to wield it; and what’s more, it is intimidating enough, combined with the warrior who holds it, to make any adversary with any common sense wish to make for the open sea as fast as the winds will bear them.”

He darted forward, moving briskly across the room and grabbed the sword hilt with both hands, wrapping his long fingers around it and giving a sharp, hard tug. The blade didn’t move and, maybe for the first time, Chakka noticed the clever arrangement of screws and rope that secured the weapon almost invisibly, to the wall. Chained.

“An excellent weapon? Aye. But rather too heavy for me, as you might see – I could fight with it, I could use this weapon of a dead adversary for my own means, and make no mistake, I would fight well with it. But if I was to lose control for one second, this blade could be my undoing – too heavy, really, too long in the blade. It could slip in my grasp, the length could prove too unwieldy and be too slow to bring up in my defence, its weight could act against me, why, even the blade could finish me. And if the soul of its previous owner truly is trapped there, he would be laughing all the way. And so I prefer, rather than running the risk, to keep it here, where I can see it – but chained there.”

Rakin turned back to Chakka. “What do you say, Chakka? It is a perfect blade, really – but would the risk that I run be using it be worth what I could gain from it?” He paused, his eyes searching the slave’s. “Would you trust a thing made for the purposes of an enemy?”

Chakka did not respond immediately, and just as he was about to, Rakin waved a hand dismissively, looking away. “Call the boatswain – he takes my dismissals rather liberally, he will not be too far down the corridor, waiting to hear either your death cries or mine.” Turning to his desk once again, he slid the knife back into his boot and took his glass, selecting another bottle and pouring himself another glass. As for Chakka, the slave didn’t move immediately, frozen – his hands were still bound, but there was nothing between him and the door, in a room full of weapons that could potentially be seized for his own needs, and with the Captain himself currently not holding a weapon and with both hands occupied. After a moment, he moved to the door, then hesitated once more.

“Unless I am very much mistaken, or the breadth of this room has extended to at least three times its usual length,” Rakin prompted calmly, without turning. “You are both still here and not yet treating boatswain to an impending seizure at the sight of your face around my door. Go, shoo, get out.” He waved a hand lazily in Chakka’s general direction, taking a sip of the wine, his eyes still meditatively fixed on the sea. A second or two later, he heard the boatswain’s startled cry, his feet thundering down the corridor and through his doorway, and then the man’s feet almost comically skidding on the rug as he saw that Rakin was indeed still very much alive. He half turned his head to offer the other corsair his profile. “Takad, take him back to the oars and chain him back in his usual position. The other slave as well – the one who was with in him in the subsequently not-so-aptly named solitary confinement.”

“You will not punish him further?” the boatswain replied disbelievingly.

Rakin sighed, replacing the glass very slowly on the table, the clink of glass against wood somehow menacing. “Takad—”

“It is done, Captain, it is done,” the boatswain interrupted hurriedly, taking hold of Chakka and pushing him ahead of him through the door. But as he did so, the slave turned back in. “Captain Rakin, will you not…consider what I have said?”

Rakin didn’t need to turn: he could imagine the panic which would be glimmering, however faintly, in the slave’s eyes, although barely a hint of it was audible in his voice. Turning slowly, glass in hand, he smiled lazily. “Oh, don’t be ridiculous; why would I do a thing like that?”

Chakka’s face closed up like a clam, his teeth gritting, and, seeing the violence in the slave’s expression, the boatswain gave him an almighty shove that, without his hands, caught Chakka off-balance and stumbling through the door. But as they went, Rakin called the pair back suddenly. As Chakka’s wary face appeared once more by the doorframe, the boatswain standing out of sight, Rakin indicated the sword once more. “It is a very fine weapon indeed. A very useful item indeed to have use of – if I could be assured that it would not backfire. Certainly it is a prospect that I would need to…consider. Could go either way, really…”

As Rakin dismissed Takad once more, Chakka resisted the other man for a moment before he was pulled roughly away and all but thrown down the corridor towards the oars. But in the instance between calling to the boatswain to take him away and the order successfully being carried out, Chakka saw an extraordinary thing: briefly, roguishly, the Captain smiled and gave the slave a quick wink.

Hearing Takad’s stream of abuse and Chakka’s stumbling, resentful footsteps fade away, Rakin allowed himself another indulgent, wolfish smile. Now it was off to see the peacock, as the message had come to him – the mighty Sangalazin wished to play chess with him. Ye gods… Rakin stared ruminatively into the glass of wine, then threw his head back and drained it in one quick movement, the midday sunlight winking off the blood liquid through the crystal and scattering the refractions of the droplets across the weapons on the walls, before he strode out of the door to see his dear – unwitting – half brother.

Last edited by piosenniel; 10-31-2005 at 04:07 PM.
Amanaduial the archer is offline  
Old 10-31-2005, 04:58 PM   #32
The Perky Ent
Maniacal Mage
 
The Perky Ent's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: Setting sail for Umbar, with Firefoot at my side!
Posts: 3,332
The Perky Ent has just left Hobbiton.
Send a message via AIM to The Perky Ent
"Menelcar," Telumehtar said, taking a blank paper from the table in his quarters. "Do you know my plan for attack?" Menelcar gave a sigh that could have been mistaken as an insulting jesture. "No Lord Telumehatar. You have yet to inform me" Telumehtar gave a small grin and began writting quickly on the paper. "A mistake that I shall soon rectify, my friend. Come look here, and you'll see. Now, obviously, here is Gondor. The river runs here, and Umbar is down here. Now, here are our forces, and here are the Umbarian raiders. I've created a small blockade to guard the coast in the event of their arrival. Should they arrive, I've set up a small flare system for the word to travel. We can assume that so long as we have no heard word via flare, the Bay of Belfalas and the River Anduin are clear of enemy ships. We then go down the river, and gather in Tolfalas. It's a long journey, and I have no doubt you'll pick up many things on the open seas. Once we reach Umbar, I will send my men to the harbors, and to the main capitol building. Once the capitol is taken, we secure the city, and light our beacon atop the lighthouse in the harbor. This plan should work so long as the seas on our journey are clear. It's a rough outline, of course, and will take much more planning."

Telumehtar took a small dagger from his belt and secured the paper to the wall with it. The bottom of the page blew as Telumehtar opened the adjacent window and let the salty air in. "I have no doubt" Telumehtar continuted, "that you had a plan yourself for the attack. What's your plan?"
The Perky Ent is offline  
Old 10-31-2005, 09:37 PM   #33
Eorl of Rohan
Ghost Prince of Cardolan
 
Eorl of Rohan's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Location: Seoul, South Korea
Posts: 602
Eorl of Rohan has just left Hobbiton.
Ferethor had been running on adrenaline. When the feverish tension that spurred him on began ebbing away, the cold surface of the planks pressed against his cheek bringing back a measure of awareness, dead weariness set in. It was a miracle that he reached this far without mishap. He shouldn’t have. He couldn’t have. But here he was, leaning on the very walls of the Rakin’s infamous quarters, clad in a sailor’s uniform that did little to staunch the flow of blood down his back, and at a loss what to do.

Beyond the walls, Chakka and Rakin were immersed in earnest speech although he couldn’t make out most of the words. He frowned, trying to concentrate on listening, and then the very incongruity of it struck him. Talking together? If Ferethor was the one in Chakka’s place, he’d be raising hell with that miserable dog of Umbar by now. Seized with a chill of doubt that he dared not explain even to himself, he inadvertently drew closer to the doorway and heard Chakka finishing his last sentence – cannot pretend… not without appeal to you. So that was it. He was selling them all out. To think he thought of trusting that barbarian thrall… Reeling from what he had heard, Ferethor swayed and covered his mouth with his hand. When he took it away, the palm was covered with blood. Damn it, not at a time like this!

No help to be gotten from Chakka, apparently, who had evidently swapped sides if he heard them correctly. Ferethor swore silently; things weren't going well. Pulling himself away from the wall, he asked himself the question that had been gnawing at the edge of his mind ever since - where to, now?

Ferethor knew he should have made provisions for such an event. As it was, he had no resources at his disposal for such a chance as this, merely because he had thought it too unlikely that he’d ever get free. He felt his lack of forethought more keenly than ever as he started walking aimlessly across the deck. The first resolve to kill Rakin seemed ridiculous to look back on, now that he thought of it. He was with Linvail the last time he tried, and that ended a failure. For Eru's sake, too, he was in no condition to kill anyone other than himself. Which he seemed to be hastening. No reason Rakin would leave him alive after this - unless, of course, he wanted to play. The man was perfectly capable of that. In fact, he was capable of anything; even leaving him alive. Although, and here Ferethor's thought took on a tinge of bitterness, should that be the case he would probably wish he was dead. Well, if he went, by Elbereth he wouldn't go alone! With that thought tingling in the back of his mind, Ferethor made his way to the bottom of Fame and Fortune, where the slaves were hard at work at the oars.

“What in Mandos are you doing around here?” Was the reply that greeted his appearance, as one of the guards looked up. It was an automatic inquiry, given with nothing more alarming than a hint of surprise, and Ferethor realized that the sentinel did not recognize him. If the man's tone was surprised, it was because the sailors kept away from this place as much as possible, it being the dismal place it is. Not the place for your afternoon stroll. But no, the surprise wasn’t the kind of alarm that would be upon seeing a slave on the loose. He thought of it for a moment, and it made sense. No one looks clearly at a slave. Besides, even if the guard knew him, there was so little illumination in the place that it wouldn't have made a particle of difference anyway. He was hard put to quell a sigh of relief.

Ferethor swallowed and said casually, “Just trying to stay out of captain’s sight. He’s been furious since he got closeted with that Chakka fellow, and I wouldn’t want to be the one to get the brunt of his anger.”

The other seemed to buy it, and lapsed into his usual lethargy, but Ferethor's eyes caught a startled movement in the least quarter where he expected trouble – the slaves. Someone had recognized his voice. Who? Damn it, who around here knew him? But there was no disbelieving his senses. A moment to slip a word to the indifferent guard about checking the fetters, then he went down to the slave ranks. Those nearest him pulled away, except for one who stared at him directly and unbelievingly – a newcomer. One less naive would immediately feign indifference, but the boy was still young. Jagar, wasn’t it his name? The one who took Linvail’s place at the oars. Seeing that the man moved as if to say something, he quickly leaned down and grabbed his wrists hard to stop him.

“Keep quiet and listen. Yes, I am the one you think I am. And yes, again, I am an enemy of the corsairs. Aren’t you?” here Ferethor waited for a reply, but it did not come, and he took it for an affirmative and continued. “Jagar, your name is, right? Anyway, I have something to ask of you. I didn’t think that you’d be the one that I’d be talking to, but it’s just as well. I have no options left now anyway. Since I.. no, wait.”

Ferethor stood up, and called out to the approaching guard that he thought the shackles were twisted and that it needed fixing, and that he’d do it for them if they wouldn’t speak of him hiding out here. A brilliant piece of acting, pulled off so well that the guard turned away with all misdoubts in his heart quenched and filled with thanks for the newcomer. He even offered a drink from his flask, but he refused. When he came back to Jagar, he had something in his hands. “The guard was stupid enough to lend me his knife to fix the shackles. Here, take it. No, better…” With a deft twist, Ferethor jerked the shackle locks open. “A skill that every slave learns after a time, so don’t look so surprised. The time might come when your chance at freedom might turn the tides. Make sure that you keep the knife close at hand, but don’t waste your chance at sheer bravado. Don’t try freeing the other slaves; I’ve tried once to raise their spirits. Take it from me, they’re worthless. Just keep yourself alive.” His voice faltered for a while as if seized with strong memories. Linvail… It was as if he was talking to him, once his most trusted lieutenant… Then he recollected himself and went on. “Not enough time to explain why I’m telling all this to you, Jagar. Maybe it’s because I would hate it if Rakin killed me and then all the plans I’ve made to kill him went to Mandos with me…”

“The strength of this vessel is that it’s isolated, so that there’s nowhere to run, but that can be also its weakness. It’s made out of wood, darn it. It’s not fireproof.” Ferethor quickly laid out his plans, afraid that his time was running out. “I know it’s soaked with brine, but if we could steal strong liquor from the captain’s own cabin to fuel the fire… That’s where you come in. I’d do it myself, but I have the feeling that Rakin’s not going to leave me alive after this, so I’m entrusting this to you… If you can steal it, our work will be half done. You can’t start it now, though, when it can be easily put out. In the heat of war, we have more chance of torching the damn ship without much interference than we would now… And then we can go over to the other ship. They’d take us in. Do you get what I’m saying?”

It was verging on madness to entrust all this to a young slave he’s never even talked to until now – but he was out of options. This was it, or nothing but the void.

Last edited by Eorl of Rohan; 11-02-2005 at 09:10 AM.
Eorl of Rohan is offline  
Old 11-01-2005, 02:40 PM   #34
dancing spawn of ungoliant
Mischievous Candle
 
dancing spawn of ungoliant's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Location: So near to Russia, so far from Japan, quite a long way from Cairo, lots of miles from Vietnam.
Posts: 1,267
dancing spawn of ungoliant has just left Hobbiton.
Send a message via MSN to dancing spawn of ungoliant
The thralls aboard The Fame and Fortune were growing restless. None of them knew for sure, what was about to happen, and below deck, the frustration and worried thoughts of the ship's crew materialized into merciless beating.

Rain, pain, dream, scream, cry, sigh... Die! Die would rhyme better. Breath, death... The seat next to Jagar was empty. Shivers ran through Jagar's body as he tensed up his muscles to do the work of two rowers alone.

“What in Mandos are you doing around here?”

Jagar lifted his head to see, what was going on. A sailor. "Well, that is a bizarre sight on slave deck. Unless he has ruffled the Lords' temper, and we're getting a new slave", Jagar snorted to himself. He leaned forward to hear if the man had brought any news. Wait- there was something strangely familiar with the sailor. His voice... Jagar tried to catch a better glimpse of him. He was the spitting image of... Don't be stupid! Salty water has softened your brain.

The sailor had noticed Jagar's stare and hastily strode towards him. Is it... It is! That man should be dead by now, Jagar gaped. He had heard colourful rumours of Ferethor's attempts to wreak havoc onboard, and last time he was taken away, Jagar had been sure that he wouldn't see Ferethor alive again.

“Keep quiet and listen", the man blurted out.

And before Jagar even knew, Ferethor had manoeuvred his shackles open and filled his head with something that sounded like a daring plan. Images of a wildfire, massive sails in red flames, danced in front of Jagar's eyes.

"Do you get what I’m saying?”

"Look... Ferethor", Jagar whispered, "You suggest that I take a little walk around the ship and have a drink in the Captain's cabin? I might as well ask those guards to give me a day off - it's a sure way to end up killed." A look of contempt arose upon Ferethor's face. "You disappoint me. You're as bootless as any other slave here", he hissed. "I'm just telling the truth. We stand no chance", Jagar replied calmly. "I never said that I wouldn't be up to it, though", he added with a slight grin.

Bells tolled somewhere up on the deck. "What is happening? Are we going ashore", Jagar asked peering out of the oar hole and trying to see if they were approaching a harbour. "Sounds like an alarm to me", Ferethor retorted, and with that he turned on his heels and left.

Last edited by dancing spawn of ungoliant; 11-02-2005 at 12:36 PM.
dancing spawn of ungoliant is offline  
Old 11-01-2005, 06:35 PM   #35
Firefoot
Illusionary Holbytla
 
Firefoot's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 7,646
Firefoot has been trapped in the Barrow!
As Telumehtar took the paper from the table and pinned it to the wall, Menelcar leaned back in his seat. Though far from luxurious, the wooden chair was at least reasonably comfortable, and he did not mind taking advantage of what comfort he could on the swaying ship. In private, at least, he and the king held few formalities with each other.

I have no doubt," Telumehtar was concluding, "that you had a plan yourself for the attack. What's your plan?"

Menelcar paused a moment before responding. What thoughts he had given to the attack had not been nearly so broad in scope, concentrating instead on individual segments of the expedition. “I think,” he began, “that it would not be unlikely that we should meet Corsair ships before we reach Umbar. We need to have a plan ready and known among the all the officers and ships’ captains before we encounter them – once we see them, it will be too late to coordinate any kind of counter.

“Also, I do not think it unlikely that we will find the harbor mouth at Umbar held against us,” he said, rising from his seat and pointing to the narrow mouth at Umbar’s harbor on Telumehtar’s map. “It is the logical place for them to make a stand – easy to defend, and removed from the city itself – and it would be foolhardy for us to believe that they will have had no word of our coming. What we need is something they will not expect, something…” He tapped speculatively at the harbor as his voice trailed off. An idea came to him. “This coastal region is hilly, providing cover, is it not? The Haven of Umbar is a port city, ill prepared for an assault from land, and however well the Corsairs fight on sea, our army is superior to theirs. What if we were to send a small force over land, over this narrow strip of land here? With any luck at all, they should reach the city at about the same time we do. They would have to go quickly and secretly for it to work; their best weapon would be surprise. What do you think? Would this work?”
Firefoot is offline  
Old 11-02-2005, 08:50 AM   #36
Eorl of Rohan
Ghost Prince of Cardolan
 
Eorl of Rohan's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Location: Seoul, South Korea
Posts: 602
Eorl of Rohan has just left Hobbiton.
The alarm resounded through the vessel like wildfire. The decks swarmed with half-roused sailors and curious soldiers, all pressing each other for information as the crowd multiplied and the alarm continued. The rumors, diverse as they were, and each more far-fetched than the last, more or less agreed that there were an escapee on the loose. As if to verify this, the emergency patrol stalked the hallways in anticipation of any false move. The hunt was on.

If there were hunters, there was the prey; such was the situation that Ferethor was pressed into. It was only a matter of time before they counted heads and found a sailor unaccounted for. Then, of course, his sailor’s clothing wouldn’t help him at all. He thought of all this with a sinking feeling that he couldn’t shake off. To make it worse, by the time he had scrambled out of the trapdoor that led to the ‘rower’s pit’ as the place was called, the emergency patrol was already out scouring every hallway. No chance of hiding, then. Drawn by a sense of strange desperateness, the like of which every animal possesses when cornered, he mingled with a group of sailors heading for the deck. There was nowhere he could go without attracting immediate notice. And he wasn’t ready to face Rakin again, so soon.

But Ferethor hadn’t prepared himself to see Rakin himself hurrying out to the deck, and every fiber strained to catch the man’s words. If he knew what Rakin’s orders were, he might stand a chance in getting away.

Last edited by piosenniel; 11-02-2005 at 08:59 AM.
Eorl of Rohan is offline  
Old 11-02-2005, 09:40 AM   #37
Fordim Hedgethistle
Gibbering Gibbet
 
Fordim Hedgethistle's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: Beyond cloud nine
Posts: 1,842
Fordim Hedgethistle is a guest of Tom Bombadil.
Chakka was taken to the slavedeck by his guards, but he barely noted the trip so full was he of his interview with the Captain. That he had walked out of the Captain’s quarters alive and on his own two feet was a greater victory than he had dared hope for. That he had been able to get the Captain thinking about his insane plan was beyond his wildest dreams. That one quick look the Captain had given him as he left remained in his mind’s eye – what had it meant? Was it a cruel game or some small recognition that they could be allies… Such a petty cruelty seemed so far beneath Rakin that Chakka could not believe it of the man, but was it any more believable that Chakka’s ploy had worked? His mind went back to the Captain’s homily upon the sword, and he realised that while Rakin was brilliant – brilliant and ruthless – he was arrogant. And arrogant men can make mistakes. The Captain knew that he could never trust Chakka, that the slave’s proposal had been nothing more than a gambit. He knew that to put Chakka in contact with the lords would be to play with ruin. But a man like the Captain, an arrogant man, might actually welcome the danger…might actually see it as some kind of game. Chakka imagined that the Captain thrived when challenged, that he was at his happiest when engaged in a contest with a worthy opponent. If Chakka had proven himself such an opponent, then perhaps the Captain would be willing to play. Chakka reminded himself that any game with the Captain would be unfairly stacked in his favour however.

An alarm rang out through the ship and Chakka’s guards hurried their steps. They soon achieved the slavedeck and Chakka was led to an empty bench. A few of the slaves recognised him from his attempt to free them, but they were quick to hide that recognition for fear of drawing the ire of the guards. One or two of the braver men reached out to brush their fingers upon Chakka’s sable skin by way of silent gratitude as he passed. He was roughly put down upon the bench and the long chain which held them all was undone, brought back to where Chakka now sat, threaded through his leg irons and then refastened at the front of the line. The slave master hit Chakka on the back with the but of his whip and ordered him to row. Chakka bit back the desire to seize the man an kill him with his bare hands – something he could have easily done in a moment.

He fell to rowing. As soon as the slave master moved away the man beside him spoke to him in a whisper. “I know what you tried to do for us last night. Thank you.” Chakka made no reply other than to nod – it was not a rude gesture, just minimalist. “I’m Jagar,” the man said.

“Chakka,” he replied. “Do you have any idea what that alarm is about?”

Jagar nodded and quickly explained what had transpired with Ferethor. Chakka was incredulous. “The fool! He wishes to set fire to this vessel? Where does he suppose we are to escape? Does he think the corsairs are going to set us free, give us boats with provisions and let us row away? If he succeeds we’ll roast alive at our oars!” He shook his head at the foolhardiness of the plan. Not only was he dancing upon the knife’s edge with the Captain, now Chakka had to contend with a clearly insane slave. He drove these thoughts from his head, for at the moment, there was nothing he could do about either of them. “I am but new to the life of a galley slave, Jagar. Tell me, is there any hope for us?”
Fordim Hedgethistle is offline  
Old 11-03-2005, 08:59 AM   #38
Folwren
Messenger of Hope
 
Folwren's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Location: In a tiny, insignificant little town in one of the many States.
Posts: 5,228
Folwren is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.Folwren is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.
The mainstay sail slackened and fluttered slightly. The captain's eyes caught the movement and he watched it keenly. For a moment, it bulged obediently, but then fell slack and limp again.

“Top man!” Hereric called, walking towards the rail. “Take in that mainsail. Bregin, mend your course.”

“Yes, sir,” the man at the wheel said, rather apologetically. He kept his gaze ahead, though was certainly very aware of the Hereric’s quick, sharp glance. The captain’s poor humor was felt by everybody. His very stance showed him to be as stiff and uncomfortable as a boy in a roomful of girls. No one cared to run the risk of his anger.

The mainstay sail was quickly adjusted to where it was supposed to be and once again she billowed out prettily with the others. Hereric nodded with satisfaction and turned and walked back towards the stern. The Gondorian fleet spread out behind them like so many white birds. It was a fine sight, the white sails spread widely and reflecting the bright sunlight from above. Captain Hereric smiled grimly and turned to look back over his own ship.

His eyes clapped to a young man stepping out from the cookery forward. In his hands he held a bucket of ash. Hereric watched with amusement as the boy went to the leeward rail. Clearly, the young man was new to the ship. Brand new. The ash left the bucket in a strong, confident fling towards the water, but it came back almost at the same instant, over the immaculate deck and into the poor recruit’s face.

Captain Hereric didn’t have to say a word as the bosun leaped on the sad, but rather honest mistake. It happened at least once to every new man aboard ship who helped the Cook. Take the ashes, or slops (which was worse), windward and he’d have a mess on his hands. There were several sharp words given before the unfortunate young man could rush into the safety of the galley again and then a group of swabbers were called up on deck and before five minutes had passed, the place was set to rights and looked as though nothing had happened.

“By jove,” Hereric muttered to himself, containing in his chest a quiet chuckle. “I should appoint new men to the galley every voyage just for the show.” Of course, he didn’t really mean it. It was humor at another’s expense, and he knew it. But he wondered if the old Cook himself didn’t have a hand in it. One would think that the experienced fellow would give his assistants some advise as to which rail to toss the remains of the fire over.
Folwren is offline  
Old 11-03-2005, 12:28 PM   #39
Anguirel
Byronic Brand
 
Anguirel's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: The 1590s
Posts: 2,825
Anguirel is a guest of Tom Bombadil.
Sangalazin was in a splendid mood. He had returned to his habitual divan, and his full, incongruously tall length was stretched across it. In front of him a table had been positioned; but it did not hold the customary hookah. Instead, it was topped with a chess board, the individual squares of well-polished ebony and ivory shining. The pieces were all laid out; King, Queen, Mumakil, Knights, Galleys and Pawns. This arrangement was a strange compromise of Sangalazin's devising between the chess of Umbar and Gondor; a Queen instead of a Vizier, Knights instead of Captains, and Pawns instead of Corsairs.

The Lord stretched, smiling contentedly. He always felt satisfied after a strangling; it was a civilised way of releasing the atavistic energy that made men beasts, just like indulgences of the flesh and the table.

"The Easterling put up a poor performance, Your Majesty," the bodyguard Captain Andlang commented. The guard of Sangalazin were trained to address him as though he were already undisputed King of Gondor. "Even though in your nobility you allowed him the use of a blade."

Sangalazin laughed; a pleasant, ringing sound. "He'd scarcely handled a dagger in his life. He fought even worse than he played his footling little instrument. Truly, he deserved the garotte. Quite laughable."

Andlang and the two other guards shared their master's mirth. Sangalazin admired them. What wondrous creations, perfect sycophants and courtiers, things of beauty, and unequalled warriors.

"Will Captain Chatazrakin be joining me soon?" he queried.

"Oh, directly," replied Andlang. "He's just having to deal with indiscipline among the slaves. Most degrading for a Captain of his rank..."

Last edited by Anguirel; 11-03-2005 at 03:22 PM.
Anguirel is offline  
Old 11-03-2005, 06:57 PM   #40
Eorl of Rohan
Ghost Prince of Cardolan
 
Eorl of Rohan's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Location: Seoul, South Korea
Posts: 602
Eorl of Rohan has just left Hobbiton.
“If you have any better ideas, I’d like to hear it.” This dry remark was from Ferethor, who, taking advantage of the darkness of the rowing pit, had slipped back just in time to hear Chakka’s words with Jagar. Even the guards were called up to the deck – for a moment, the time was his to make use of it as he will.

“This coming from the man who cut a deal with Rakin?” His voice was hardened as he directly addressed Chakka. “Deny it as you will – I’ve heard your conversations. If you weren’t planning to sell us all out, and protect Rakin to boot, then what was all that fawning about? What, are you going to tell me it’s all a clever ruse to get him to trust you, so that, oh, I’ve mistaken your intentions, you can go and free the slaves? At least, my plan gets Rakin killed, if we die, too.”

Ferethor drew the knife that he had plundered from the dead sailor. He couldn't let this one go. “I’ve heard you say that you were once a King’s bodyguard, Chakka. Let’s see if you live up to the reputation.”

Last edited by piosenniel; 11-04-2005 at 02:43 AM.
Eorl of Rohan is offline  
 

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -6. The time now is 06:10 AM.



Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.9 Beta 4
Copyright ©2000 - 2020, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.