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Ohtacárë i nwalmë úquétima: The March from the North

Anamatar IV

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It was in a matter of days that Ingolemo called the Istarion back together and the armies spurred their horses. They had rested; tended their wounds and sharpened their swords. But rest does not last in time of war.

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The next day at sun set the soldiers of Heren Istarion were huddled around campfires. It was a cold night. Not even the armor and cloaks could keep out the sharp wind that chilled the body, mind, and soul. One by one the fires died to glowing embers turned to ash by the wind.

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

The boorish inhabitants of Rivendell laughed gleefully that night. The cold did not pierce their thick flesh. They ate raw meat and swilled bear late into the night. Their lack of vigilance that night would be deadly.

Swiftly and silently the horsed soldiers of Heren Istarion drove into Rivendell, led by Ingolemo, Poseis, and the axe of Dain. Their spears drove deep into the hides of the trolls, killing many before they could raise their clubs, and the Istarion's quick horses dodging the bludgeons of those that were quick. Onward through the valley, through the houses and halls, the rivers and forests, the Istarion persued their foes fleeing wildly back into the mountains or drying trying to fight the onslaught in vain.

Yet some resistance there was and many proud Istarion fell in battle. The trolls were relentless and they were many....
 
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Snaga

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The bellowing trolls swung their huge bucklers crushing rider and horse in single blows. The horse charges were a brave and daring tactic. Full headlong charge would pierce even the thick hide of the trolls, and these huge and lumbering monsters did little to avoid the onslaught. Every troll that fell, thrust through with many spears many riders also fell.

From the mountain slopes to the east, amid the statuesque pines and grey wet crags, a black hail of arrows came. From many places orcs had crept from down the High Pass, and now their poisoned barbs fell lethally amongs the hunting riders. The riders looked up, but could make little out in the black of night where the orcs took cover amongst the boulders and trees. Horses would be no use on the cliffs and slopes of the valley. It was a horrible trap. They were caught in a cross-fire.

Their harsh horns brayed, and lo! the riders perceived the trolls were retreating from the broken ruin of Rivendell back to their mountain holes. Howls rang through the valley. Wargs! It seemed the vale would soon be thick with another lethal foe... the vale of Imladris was not wholesome any more.
 

Anamatar IV

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Ingolemo yelled with a hoarse voice to his soldiers. The darkness had not availed their onslaught as much as Ingolemo had thought.

"Together!" He yelled at the top of his lungs. "We cannot retreat from such speedy foes! Form a wall of spears and shields and light torches!" The soldiers of Heren Istarion quickly formed a crude circle with spears and swords facing outward and archers strung their arrows. Bright torches of flame were lit and were held by the captains and officers of the force. By the dim light of the flames the soldiers could make out wargs and many of them very close. The first rank of wargs was thwarted by the spear wall, the next by the shields. The archers loosed their arrows and they sped into the heads and throats of the vile attackers. This series of attack and defense carried on for some time but each time the horrid wolves came back fiercer and in greater numbers.

But suddenly a braying of horns was heard that pierced the darkness and blasted over the sounds of battle. The shield wall created an opening and quickly from that opening rode a sortie of Istarion led by Ingolemo himself with his rapier gleaming white in battle. The great sortie of the Istarion took the wargs by surprise and they could not run fast enough from the thundering and trampling hooves of the horses.
 

Dáin Ironfoot I

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"Baruk Khazâd! Khazâd ai-mênu!" roared Dain, his voice like the thunder of the forges deep below the earth. His axe cut through the vile flesh of the Wargs and they yelped in fear of the shining red axe, its surface illuminated by the firey glow of the torches and the deathly sheen of blood. Many Wargs however, rampaged over the spear wall, either imapling themselves or sinking their sharp teeth into a warrior of Heren Istarion. The Warg's teeth could not pierce the mithril coat of Dain, and their teeth bent on its warm surface.

Tortured cries echoed in the once wholesome vale of Imaldris, and the Trolls gathered together to crush the HI forces from behind. They lumbered as one, their mouths stained with the blood from their fallen victims, and cried a word of the black speech in unison. Many quailed before their onslaught, but Dain and Ingolemo rallied them to fight. The Wargs had turned their tails and left, whimpering in pain and loss of their wolf chieftan.

"Surround the Trolls! Let none escape! Rivendell shall be reclaimed now in the name of Heren Istarion!" Dain bellowed, his axe waxing in the red glow of death. The Dwarf was exhausted and wounded, for a stray dart had pierced him in the shoulder. Before he could collapse in weariness and despair, a rage boiled deep within him; a great fire of courage and pride rose up within him and he felt invincible, rekindled by some forgotten flame of the forgotten past. The weariness left his body, and his bravery shone on his face like a clear gem of the finest ruby, red and pure without mar. Though he knew it not, the forces of Heren Istarion were rekindled as well, rallying to their small Dwarf captain's determination.

He charged headlong into the Troll legion, of which their numbers were less than half of what they were before. His axe sunk deep into the leading Troll's chest, black blood spilling forth onto Dain's face with a burning content. But Dain felt nothing. A Troll crushed Dain's leg beneath its massive foot, but Dain could not feel his bone crushing beneath his leathery skin, though he heard a noise of snapped bone. With a final cry he planted his axe firmly in the Troll's face, sending its skull into seperate directions upon the field of death.

The forces of Heren Istarion had surrounded the beasts, attacking them from every angle with spear, sword, and bow.
 

Snaga

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On the flat floor of the vale in open, the wargs fell in numbers but as they reached the sloping sides of the valley the charge faltered, and the hail of black arrows from the nooks and crannies of the crags grew more withering. Horse and rider fell pierced with many barbs, blood staining the tough and wiry mountain grass.

The wargs grew bolder, turning on their foes. The trolls too regrouped, and punched their way through their encirclement, with horrible force behind the bludgeoning swing of their clubs. They burst through and gained higher ground at the far end of the vale.

Percieving their charge had gone too far, the horsemen gathered upon a knoll in the midsts of the vale, arrows still skittered about them. One horse was made lame as an arrow pierced the muscle of it thigh but still defiantly carried its rider.

About them, they could sense the shifting forms of the wargs, eyes glowering. The arrows ceased.

A silence fell, save only the endless sound of water running. The sky was black, yet perhaps far away in the Vale of Anduin dawn was come. The blackness lifted a fraction but the clouds were sullen: the sun would not pierce them that day even once it rose above the towering peaks, and that was yet hours away.

Occasional howls, and a solitary shrieking cackle told them they were not alone. An orange light danced amid the trees, and seemed to come towards them. Eyes strained amid the riders of Heren Istarion. It was a torch. The horse chaffed and stamped their feet nervously. As it approach its light began to illuminate the ground about them: they perceived the contorted forms of slain men, and orcs and beasts. The ground was atimes slick with dark blood.

'I am Gathlok!' rasped a voice, that emanated from the crooked form ahead of them. He held his torch aloft and peered, but they could scarce tell whether this was mishapen man, or orc. But it seemed that each shuddered involuntarily to hear his voice, as though foul insects scuttled within their living flesh.

'Who of ye has wit to treat with me?' sneered Gathlok. 'I am emissary from the Urukgush who is lord of the mountains, and chieftain of the Uruks. This land we have taken at his bidding. Let me know declare his will to you.

His tone grew softer, less harsh, and might be thought kindly but this indeed seemed only more sinister. 'Perchance you are agrieved at was has befallen here? Perchance this hall of elf-kind has some meaning to you? You recall fondly tales wherein the innocent traveller had reason for cheer in these halls? Do not let yourself be driven by fond illusion. Those days were past long afore we came hither. Where now is Lord Elrond, and Lord Celeborn who dwelt here thereafter? Both sailed on their ship, sailing away to leave you folk to your fate. There was no master of this house, only a rag-tag of unruly folk, unable to keep order in this place. Weeds choked the paths, stones cracked and were not replaced. Yet ever was this a staging post for hostility to us the orcs of the mountains.

He paused, and cocked his head slightly as if to catch the thoughts of those about him.

'So in taking this for our own, read into it no wider hostility than is intended. We wish only to secure our borders, not to rove deeply into the lands of Arnor. Look westward: far hence are the lands of Men. There need be no threat believed by any. Thus I say to you cede this vale, and depart with your heads held high. You fought valiantly.

'But I say also this: what is there left for you to fight for? Just the ruined houses of a people long departed! Will you shed blood for broken stone? What good is there in that? Even were victory within your grasp, it would be fruitless. But I say further this: we have not yet put forth even a tithe of our strength. You cannot win.' He lifted his torch higher, his eyes gleaming in its light.

And with these words each of them seemed to see before them a desolate valley, with corpses piled amongst the ruins, with none to bury them nor drive away the carrion-fowl. And as if unbidden the tear-stained face of loved ones came to them, desolately bathed by cheerless sunlight.

Gathlok looked at Ingolemo's frowning face. 'Come, how say you?'
 
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Dáin Ironfoot I

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The great battle in the vale had cost the lives of many proud warriors, yet more beasts of fell make had been slaughtered in its once pure basin. The raging fire that had consumed Dain had waned into naught more than a lone candle in the black night, and Dain began to feel the broken bone in his left leg.

The remaining warriors, well over half of their original number stood silently, fingering their bows and clutching their hilts. Dain saw the fierce determination in their eyes for he had experienced it as well, and he knew that they were prepared to fight to the death if need be. But Dain also felt that this was a battle they could not win, not yet, and to retreat would save the lives of the army of HI for what Dain percieved to be a future conflict in the vale. Ingolemo's face brooded in deep thought while the chieftan awaited their reply.

"We have come so far, Dain. We have rid this world of many black spirits of wargs and trolls, yet here we lay in the low ground. We fought valiantly, but to fight now is to die valiantly from what this chieftan has told us. Surrender and retreat will only shatter what we have come so far to bear," Ingolemo spoke, his fingers clasped about his broad nose and his eyes closed in concentration.

"Another time shall come for us, Lord Ingolemo, for I have felt it within me. Imaldris will be claimed by Heren Istarion, but now is not our time, nor our battle. For only the forges of Aule and the springs of Yavanna can sanctify these once pure lands, and that is what shall come to being," Dain replied, his tone passive and knowledgeable. Ingolemo opened his eyes and turned his vision upon the broken Dwarf, boring deep into him searching for signs of lucidity and confidence.

"Dain, I know not why, but I see no expression of ignorance upon your face, only weariness and a knowledge of something I cannot begin to fathom," Ingolemo said, a grim smile widening on his battle-stricken face, "and your words bring great wisdom into my heart. This is not the last time the Orcs of Imaldris will see their vassals of death." His face shone with a new light, one of understanding and pride, and he tilted his chin upwards in defiance. He jumped upon a horse and rode towards the chieftan, his posture upright and proud.

As Ingolemo slowly approached the chieftan, Dain instructed the troops to board every horse, riding double if needed. They would have a fast escape, and would have need of outrunning the rampaging wargs. Ingolemo glanced backwards, waiting for every man and woman to seat themselves upon a steed before nearing the torchlight. When they were all prepared, Ingolemo halted his approach, and Dain strode up next to him.

"We have fought valiantly indeed, and you shall see the star of Heren Istarion flowing over the bodies of your fallen troops before the end," Poseis said, his face contorted in pride and anger. The familiar rage rose once again in the Dwarf at these words, it was trying to break free of his small body. He concentrated on the torch held aloft by an unseen hand, his mind focusing on its essence, its raw power.

"Your words are bold, but have they merit? Thou takes me for a fool, but that I am not. I am a proud warrior, one that can recognize a great army when I see it. But you have no chance of winning here in Imaldris, and I am giving thine people a chance to leave this place of Mornclaur! Leave this blackened vale and come never again, for we shall have no mercy upon thy ravaged bodies," hissed the chieftan, his torch dancing wildly in the blackness.

"We shall take your offer!" Ingolemo yelled. At this the horses of Istarion stomped their feet, and the troops lowered their spears. "But, we shall come to disturb you again, and we will not fail!"

Before the chieftan could reply, the torch he held flickered brighter, and the flame upon its crown consumed the wooden handle and was dropped to the ground. With a great cry, Dain hurled a silver throwing axe towards the unseen foe as he turned his steed round; a wail of pain escaped the chieftan's lips as the silver dart embedded into his flesh. The forces of Heren Istarion crashed through the line of Wargs, and sped fervently towards the roaring river. Dain and Ingolemo followed last, and after every horse had crossed the lone bridge, the blades of the two captains cut the bridge from its foundation, causing it to collapse into the corupted waters. Ingolemo turned once in defiance of the evil forces, and blew a resounding note upon his silver horn, filling the vale with a last wholesome sound that it was naught to hear for a long while. Arrows flew from the river's opposite side, but they hit few targets.

The Heren Istarion had escaped the jaws of death, and rode hard to their next location. Dain's face was grim and in deep thought, and he rode silently behind the retreating forces.

"Why are you so foreboding my friend? We have survived a force ten times our own, and made a promise of death that we intend to keep," spoke Ingolemo, a bitter smile upon his face.

"Perhaps. But I have a roaring furnace within my broken body, and I must go to Rohan for that is where the flame is drawn," he said, "Once I get to Heren Istarion and heal from my wounds, I shall go to Rohan, alone."

The sun had risen, casting away the black shadows of despair, but the silent vale of Imaldris remained encased in the fell cloud.
 

¤-Elessar-¤

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The Hunter had fled into the night, not willing to waste his wanning strength on the Arnorians. He fled instead to the northwest, where he knew his men were awaiting him.

By dawn of the next day he came upon their camp. It would have looked odd to any who had looked on it from the ground, but from the view of the raven it was magnificent. Tents spiraled about, and took sharp angles and trecherous archs. It was a call out, beyond the void, for the protection and grace of he whom the Hunter called lord. For months earlier, the mightiest of the children of the song had won a secret race against his brethren, and now a true outlet of his presence walked the earth.

The Hunter came at last to his camp, and therein found his own tent. The innards of it were simple, but they were not plain. Off to one side was a small cot, which had never been used. And in the center there was a pit of coals. In the center of that pit was an Iron seat, engraved in runes and pictures of the past. The hunter went and sat there, on that evil chair. There he was to stay for the next hours, reaching beyond the limits of the minds of most men, and searching for the first of the others to bear whitness to the calling.

He found the man of which he searched...

Miles away, but not so many legions, the lord Elessar Telcontar II sat upon a wooden pallet on the stone floor of a room in the dungeons below Thalionost. This was the place he came to when all seemed to hectic, this was his palace of sanctuary and his keep of silence. He called out in the darkness, for it was nearing on a week since he had received his calling, and he was now searching for others who had whitnessed the same.

He inhaled sharply, and a whisper of his voice echoed throughout the vacant cells. He had found the man of which he searched, but the massive evil had taken even his mind by surprise...


The two minds clashed there, in the deepest reaches of the void, where all minds go when they wander. They came at each other, not with blade, or bow, or other arms of might, but instead with will, and thought, and intent. The hunter fell from his Iron Throne, and could not feel the coals. Elessar fell from the pallet, but the sound of his body meeting the floor did not echo throughout the vastness.

They stood there, in the void, looking each other over. They needed no words, for their minds were one, and yet they were a seperate two. They clashed again, mind against mind. And yet, as they fought on, they were pulled apart, and each of them calmed. A voice called out to them from the darkness, though the master of it was voiceless.

"Hail, childs of the earth. It has been bestowed upon you a great gift, and yet a great curse. By the will of my own childs you are bound as brothers, not by your blood, nor by your mothers, but instead by your minds. What happens to one will happen to the other, until at last one of you finds a way to break such bonds, or until you succumb to the fate that I have given to man."

With the promise of death, the booming voice faded into the heavy silence. The two minds braced theirselves again, forever in an eternal battle. But just as they were to meet, they were brought agian to the mortal world. Elessar awoke, lying on his back in a near-darkness, his face drenched in cold sweat.

The first of the Ohtar-Valaina knew himself, and knew who the others were to be.
 

Arathin

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Arathin was walking the lands of Mithlond. Her men were watching everything in the province. Nothing of Mornclaur had been seen for a long time, yet she knew the war wasn't quite over. She felt at peace though. She couldn't help, but wonder in the green fields and forests. She didn't feel at peace in the city anylonger, it seemed. She would pace or stop eating, and the people had begun to worry. She looked up, an eagle was coming. She knew it was coming, but it had as yet made no call nor was it in sight. As Arathin wondered at this one of her eagles swept down upon her arm with a message from her husband, Elessar. He wrote of Arandor and other things. She knew she must go to him, but wrote instead that she would remain with Mithlond until the war was over. She had a duty to protect this land. After watching the eagle circle off into the sunrise, she called her horse and rode back to the palace.
 

Snaga

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CONCLUSION

Thus it came to pass that though the hurts to West, to the people of Arnor were grevious, the realm of Annatore endured. The assault on Arnor had faltered, as had the onslaught on Gondor.

Yet though the Dark Lord's plans had not been fulfilled, neither had they come to naught. The capture of the Necromancer's castle in Angmar grieved few: ever it had been a name of darkness. More terrible was the night over Rivendell. For long after, sadness came to the faces of those few of the Eldar who recalled its grace and beauty in time of Elrond. More bitter now was loss of the Three Rings which once sustained the elven lands in a summer of unending bliss.

In the north, the armies of Mornclaur had faltered in the snow fields, and whether defeated by the cold, or by the first determined resistence of Arnor, or by some strange design of the Urukgush, the renewed attack had not come. Thus, with when the Corsairs assailed the Havens, the defences had held.

The Hunters horde remained, diminuished somewhat, a constant fear, preying on those undefended villages and farmstead, yet not strong enough to face the armies of Arnor in open battle.

So ensued an Uneasy Peace. Few felt it would last long, but for now all watched and waited, and whispers in corners spoke of new powers arising.

No further posts on this thread please
 

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