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Topic ClosedBeyond the Rammas Echor

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Direct Link To This Post Topic: Beyond the Rammas Echor
    Posted: 08 Dec 2009 at 3:30am
Beyond the Rammas Echor
 

 
**Like a pair of arms embracing the Pelennor fields, the Rammas Echor reaches over ten leagues (30 miles) in length. From the foot of Mount Mindolluin it curvs out as far as the banks of the mighty Anduin before curving back into the mountain, standing guard and ever watchful over the city of Minas Tirith.

12 miles away from the city, at its furthest point (The North-Eastern side) there stands the tallest and likely strongest part of the wall. It stands upon a bank that overlooks the flat lands before the banks of the Anduin. Here, you will find the fords and bridges of Osgilliath. A walled causeway travels from the river to a gate guarded and flanked by two towers known as the Causeway Forts.


To the Northern side of the wall there sits a gate, the North Gate of Forannest. It is at this point that the Great West Road curves South towards the city and passes through the outer wall.

To the Southern side, between the Anduin and Mount Mindolluin there lies another gate through which the South Road does pass. The South Eastern section lies right on the riverbank, there rests the dock area of Harlond. At this point, the wall is only one league (3 miles from the city)**


The journey out from the city is one you have so chosen to take, as is the path that carries your feet through the protection of Rammas Echor and into more open and dangerous lands. The darkness that dwells in the black lands of Mordor continues to stir, small bands of orcs frequently roam the roads in search of stray or wandering citizens…that is if man himself catches you not first, for bandits and thieves alike also roam the paths that may lead to your destination.
~*~

This is an open role play area where you may write about your travels outside Minas Tirith Great Gates.
-Pelennor Fields
-Lossarnarch
-Ithilien
-Osgilliath
-Dol Amroth
-Pelargir
-The Great River Anduin
~*~

 Please title your posts, either with a story name or location so that readers may see where you are.

Star
Enjoy your travels!

**Source www.Tuckborough.net  and named sources therein
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alias author Jan Hawke

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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 Dec 2009 at 8:25pm

SAFE HAVENS ~ Leaving Edoras

The tiny convoy of covered wagons, just three of them, headed out of Edoras and made its weary way east and a little south down the Great West Road towards the Mering Stream and Gondor. They had come a very long way seeking lands where Men still dwelt in cities and mighty strongholds that defied the deepening shadow. Nowhere was really safe these days and this handful of brave souls had determined to leave the cold emptying lands of Eriador west of the Misty Mountains and passed through the defunct kingdoms of Rhudaur and Arthedain, leaving their homes and farms; the Trollshaws; the Weather Hills; and turned their backs on the north at the Chetwood and travelled southwards down the Greenway and the Old South Road into wild lands where nobody really lived in true settlements once they passed over the Hoarwell at Tharbad.
 
They had lingered there a few days before making the crossing for the bridge was badly delapidated and the Hoarwell was swollen by the late winter runoff from the mountains carried on the Swanfleet. The mournful remains of the once proud fortress at Tharbad did little to raise their spirits for these were people descended from the remnant Dúnedain population left in the north. They had been a larger party as they left the little village of Clalem, huddling on the outskirts of the Trollshaws, though some, like tough hawk-faced Rhian, widow of Gareth, whose wagon led the party, had come from the encampment that served as the home  base for the Rangers. These grim tall men still patrolled the road to the Grey Havens and other parts of Eriador that their people had held in strength for so long, but had all but lost in this last millennium. Yet still they remained, those who still had the heart and courage to fight on. despite falling numbers and dark times. Somehow they kept the faith and did what they could, sometimes aided by the Elves of the Havens or of Rivendell to keep some lands free of threat and ruin... 
 
... yet despite the best efforts of Men and Elves, Clalem had suffered a huge blow just over three years ago. A large war party of Orcs had attacked the little village and many had died defending it. Rhian's husband, Gareth, had fought there and some weeks later had ridden with Aragorn, other Rangers and Elves of both Rivendell and the Golden Wood on a punitive mission to destroy the place those Orcs had issued from in Hollin Ridge. Gareth never returned. Never knew Rhian was at last pregnant and birthed his only child, a son, seven months after his sire had been slain. Garyan was now a bold toddler, dark-haired and strong-limbed, determined to get into trouble at every turn. It was Rhian who had talked Daerún, Gundred and her brother's family into striking out on their own at the Inn in Bree. Some of the other villagers were staying with kin in the smaller villages around Bree and the rest looking to head farther west to Harlindon where it was said Men could live well around the bounteous forests below the Blue Mountains or sail the Belegaer as fisherfolk or working for merchant ships.
 
"We should go south Daerún." Rhian's keen grey eyes had bored into the younger man. She was ever bitter at her lot, though fiercely proud of her man and determined his son would grow strong and lead a warrior's life like his father. "We should go to the White City where our kin still stand strong against the Shadow folk. Our children will be better defended there, where they still have armies strong in the blood of Westernesse."
 
Daerún could only nod his head in agreement, as their other companions had tried to make merry in the taproom of the Pony. Those left able-bodied after the fighting in Clalem - around a hundred and twenty souls had lost heart after losing so many of their kin and people had been leaving in little groups ever since. Rhian had come to live there after her son was born and Daerún, a good friend of Gareth's, had kept an eye on her. Their friendship had deepened since Daerún lost his wife Dalla last year. Keeping his three children safe was his only concern now, and though he doubted he would lead a roving warrior's again, he had other skills that would be in demand in Minas Tirith and serve to defend the land of Gondor.
"Aye Rhian. I have no real interest in living here in the north any more."  He smiled wryly at his friend, his dark charcoal eyes glinting in the fire and lamp light. "No more little settlements where there are not enough men to fight at need. My three have the blood of warriors in their veins as your Garyan. We face darker times yet I fear and I would rather be in a great city amongst warriors than trying to grub a living off the land or the seas with a handful of farmers and hunters. It will do me good to hold a sword again at need... though making them for others is good in itself I miss the feeling of a blade in my hand..."
 
And now they were nearing their goal, though they would still be a few weeks on their journey. The Mering Stream marked the border of Rohan and Anorien on the other side was a fiefdom of Gondor. They had replenished their supplies in Edoras and all of the adults were glad that journey's end beckoned. Daerún was riding alongside his wagon that carried his little family, the 3 year old twins Althor and Aeglos, tiny Alfdís, more often called Dissy, who was threatening to walk unaided any day now and Gundred who had helped him with the children ever since his lovely Dalla had died delivering Dissy.
 
Daerún was riding alongside his wagon and chuckled at the twins who were arguing noisily in the back. Gundred who was driving shook her head and gave him a look that said 'it's your turn this time". He curbed his laughter and called out in a seemingly stern voice.
"If you two wake Dissy up again you can get out and walk for a bit!" Aeglos' voice rose above her twin's, sounding very grumpy
"It's Al's fault da! He keeps tryin' to take Dissy's top blanket!"
"Am not! Tell-tale! I was tuckin' her in!"
 
Daerún quickly hid an amused grin as his son's cheeky face appeared from behind the tarpaulin. "That'll do you two! Little imps!"
Althor had climbed onto the board to sit beside Gundred who concentrated steadily on the reins which had somehow got tangled. Daerún brought his bay mare close to the wagon and a long arm flashed out, grabbed his son by the back of his stout sheepskin jerkin, pulled him onto his mount and settled the boy in front of him.
"We need to make good time today so you're excused walking, but I'm going to take you into protective custody young man!" He mock glared into Al's face, then saw his eldest daughter take her twin's place beside Gundred, little face frowning grumpily
"Tha's not fair da! He was bein' naughty, but he gets to ride wiv you!"
"Worry not Madam Snowthorn! I will swop you both around soon enough - you just settle yourself and be quiet for a bit... and don't start giving Gundred trouble either!" He caught Al poking his tongue out at his sister and put his hand on top of the boy's head and made him look straight ahead. "Enough of your tricks too, Al... Keep your eyes on the road and tell me the names of all these trees!"
 
He urged his horse forwad so neither of the twins could see his huge grin. The sun was blazing down and there was a fresh breeze coming from the west off the snow-capped White Mountains. For the first time in ages he felt happy and relaxed. He put one hand on his son's shoulder as he began to name all the trees they were passing by. He patted his son gently, then ruffled his hair and lightly kicked the bay to move up alongside Rhian's wagon.
 
Daerún
My children are my life - I fight for them to the death!
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 Dec 2009 at 8:32pm

SAFE HAVENS ~ The Mering Stream 1
NPC Gundred – a childless widow

With five adults and six very small children - besides Daerún's three and Rhian's young son Garyan, Baldor and his wife had two sons, a four year old and the other nearly two - they did not travel very fast and so it took over a week to travel the hundred and fifty miles or so to reach the river that formed the border of Rohan and Gondor.  They reached the Mering a little before dusk and decided not to cross the stony, shallow ford until the next day

“A new dawning in our new homeland!” A rare smile had passed across Rhian’s grief-lined face and the other adults had all nodded their agreement. They began to set up camp on a little rise close to the edge of the Firien Wood where it crept nearer to the water. It reminded them a little of Clalem and so they decided to have an impromptu feast from their supplies and make a small ceremony for the end of their journey from their old life and to greet the new. 

 

The women, Gundred, Rhian and Baldor’s wife Saran insisted on bathing with the children and left Daerún and Baldor to set up camp in the gathering dusk. By the time their womenfolk returned from the little rock pool they had found it was nearly full dark and the moon was climbing into a clear sky.

“ ’Twill be a bonny starry night Daerún! Baldor’s growly voice was soft in the evening air as he threw some more wood on their fire and placed his huge water pan on to boil for hot tea, “But we’d best take some torches with us for our bath – I’ll get those stout ones we bartered for in Edoras.”

“Aye – as much for warmth as well as the light!” Daerún sounded a little weary but content, as he briefly kissed little Dissy’s fluffy dark head, laid warm and safe on Gundred’s shoulder as she paused for a moment in front of him before putting the tired baby into her cot.

 

The former Ranger had been pretty quiet all day and they all knew the reason. It was a year to the day that Dissy had been born. The day that Dalla, her beautiful raven-haired mother, had died. Daerún had been dreading this anniversary, but now it seemed fitting somehow that he and their children were here in this borderland and would start their new lives in Gondor the next morn. He and Baldor were comfortable in each other’s company and neither man spoke much as they made their way over to the stream. Though they had only been close friends these last three years, they had known each other all their lives. Baldor was Daerún’s elder by about five years and his sister Gundred was twelve years older than her brother. Old enough, just about, to be Daerún’s mother, which is how he’d come to feel for her ever since Dissy’s namesake, her great granny Alfdís, had died a few weeks after her son, Dalla’s father, Althor had been killed in the dreadful battle.

 

Today of all days Daerún’s mind had naturally strayed to those terrible events, as well as to Dalla and their short but happy marriage, though it had been tinged with sorrow. Two of his three children were named for Dalla’s granny and for her father Althor of course, and in a way their naming had helped with the grief, though Dissy had not been born for another couple of years of course. Dalla had insisted on naming the baby after her granny if they had a girl-child – and she had whispered the name to her newborn as Daerún had handed Dissy to her. Gundred had been there too and had fought so hard to save Dalla, whilst he had to look on, holding the distressed babe in one arm and his other around his fast weakening, ashen-faced wife who had begged him not to take Dissy out of her sight. So he had stayed, trying to blot out her weeping. Closing his eyes, so he did not see the blood. So much blood. He could still smell it if he took his mind back to that night. Feel her tears on his neck. Hear her voice most all.

“Don’t hate Dissy, Daer... This isn’t her fault… Love her for me… please my dear… Always…”

 

He dived in and let himself sink to the bottom of the pool, holding himself there for long moments, under the dark freezing water, his eyes open, thinking to expunge Dalla’s face. But not hard enough. He could not let her go – would never forget her and her gentle dove-grey eyes. They gazed at him still from Dissy’s dear little face. Her wavy, midnight hair that smelt of heather on the wind and was soft as silk. The twins had inherited Dalla’s lovely hair. Slowly, his lungs craving for air he rose to the surface, his tears undetectable on his streaming wet face. As always the thought of his children pulled him back from the black edges of his grief and, as the year had passed, the horror had gradually come on him less frequently. A year ago it was Gundred who had saved him in his darkest despair. Held him almost like a babe that bleak night, after they had buried Dalla in the hard earth next to her father. After they had put the weeping twins to bed and he finally could not deny his own bitter tears a moment longer.

 

That dark hollow night Gundred had at last brought Dissy to him and made him hold the tiny life that had seemingly ended her mother’s.

“You swore to Dalla, Daer. To love your poor little bairn.”

 

* * * * * * * * * *

 

Whilst Baldor and Daerún were off bathing, Gundred gave the three motherless children their supper and let the twins stay up a little longer. She had brought Dissy, cot and all to their campfire too. All the children should be with them tonight, but especially little Dissy, for this was her birthday and that should be celebrated too, despite the bad memories. Gundred had also been fairly quiet all day, for she had also shared in Daerún’s terrible grief and was still mourning with him. As they waited for their menfolk to come back, warming themselves at the fire, she was able to talk and laugh a little with Rhian and Saran and the other three children, as they began to talk of what might await them in Gondor. So Gundred spoke of her own hopes for their new home, all the while trying not to brood too much on the past year. This was just the way it had to be. The living needed her and the dead did not.

 

Gundred had loved Dalla too and the day after they had lost her, the thin, capable midwife had been too quiet, ever since she had to give up on trying to stem the dreadful bleeding. She had been helping birth children for so many years, had learnt her trade from Dalla’s granny Alfdís, and this was always so hard on everyone. Normally she would have taken some consolation in having a mother, or the child survive – it was truly terrible when they lost both - but this time it was different. She knew that this might be a blow too many for Daerún, because it felt like that to her as well.

 

Althor had been killed just after his twin grandchildren had been born, literally minutes after Dalla had birthed Aeglos. There had been a wildly ferocious fight in the barn where all the non-combatant villagers had taken shelter, in the short hours before those orcs had savaged their homes and devastated so many lives. Dalla, and Daerún too, had just begun to come to terms somewhat over Althor’s death, when his mother, her good friend and mentor Alfdís, deranged by the loss of her eldest son and by the savagery of the fighting that took him and in which she had also participated, had drowned herself. Thrown herself into a torrent.

 

They had not been able to find her body for three days and this had happened whilst Daerún had been called away to ride with the Rangers, so soon after the raid. With this fresh wound Dalla had been distraught with grief and, but for Gundred, she would have lost her milk. But Dalla was of strong stock and she had rallied a little by the time her husband returned and vowed never to leave them again. Fate seemed determined that Daerún’s children should be born, even as another of their family died. This time Gundred had no answers, except to carry on as best she could and do whatever it took for her adopted family and this honest, principled, hard-working man, who had lost his own blood family long ago. His parents and two older sisters had all perished from the ague. Daerún had been five years old.

 

That night they had wept together until she felt sick and dizzy with exhaustion and at last she had done as Dalla had wished and gone to fetch the forlorn little babe from her cradle. The infant smelt of warmth and the milk a neighbour, who was still nursing, had kindly brought to them almost as soon as the news of Dalla’s death had spread early the next morn. Gundred had held Dissy close and sworn then and there that she would be as good a mother to this little one as Dalla herself would have been. Crooning softly as the girl-child had nestled into her chest, Gundred had taken her to her father who was still shuddering miserably over an uneaten meal and gently placed her in his arms; firmly holding his hands in place until she was satisfied he would cradle the child properly…

 

“What happened… it was not because of this child. Not really, Daer. Dalla knew that and she needed you to understand? This is not a punishment on you, my son. You could have lost them both, but Dissy is still here and Dalla wanted you to take care of her… wanted you to love her…”
She had had to stop for Daerún had nodded, spattering hot fat tears onto the soft blanket his daughter was swaddled in. Words deserted her, but she knew she had said enough. She had been standing beside him, but now she drew her chair over and put her tired old arms around him and the babe. They would live through this and together come to see Dalla’s youngest child as a true blessing…

 

* * * * * * * * * *

 

“High time we cracked open that keg of mead I think, Baldor?”  Oddly, Daerún was feeling a lot better for his bathing and his mind was turning with something like relish towards the new day. He realised he really was looking forward to entering Gondor and excited about a new start in a great city of Men.

“Hah! I knew you wanted it really! Are you glad I made you trade that cured wolf pelt now?”

“As always you can read me like a book, my friend. Besides – it’s my Dissy’s very first birthday today as well! Can’t let that go without a little celebrating can we?”

 

Both men were all smiles as they reached the campfire, their hearts full at the sight of their children, wife and friends looking expectant and happy to be on the brink of a new life here in the southlands.

 
Daerún
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 Dec 2009 at 8:34pm

SAFE HAVENS ~ The Mering Stream 2

“Time for bed now you two! We have to be up early tomorrow…” Their little celebration was over for the children at least, so Daerún shook his head at his two eldest pleadings, but there was a soft look in his eye tonight and they both sensed weakness. As always it was Aeglos, the youngest twin, but the boldest, who tested their powers of persuasion.

“We han’t given Dissy her present yet, Da! You said me an’ Al’ could say what her present will be, an’ soon ‘twon’t be her birfday no more!”

Daerún again shook his head, but more slowly, trying not to smile at the determined expression on his little daughter’s solemn face. Just like her mother when she had made her mind up! Althor came over to him and gave an exaggerated sigh as he threw his arms around his father’s neck.

“Me’n Aggi - we know what Dissy wants for her birfday, Da!”

 

“Oh, you do, do you?” Daerún tried and failed to keep a straight face and spoke with a chuckle, knowing he’d already lost the fight. Aeglos’ next words however, nearly undid all their innocent wiles and winsome smiles.

“Yep! We knows Da. Dissy wants to hear the story of gran’da and the elf lady!” Aeglos’ voice was wheedling and her dark eyes were glowing a little doubtfully in the firelight now as she saw her father’s deepening frown. “Please, Dada! We an’t heard it for ages an’ ages!  An’… an’ Gundred tells it all wrong, Da – not like you or Mumma did!”

He must have glared over at Gundred, because Althor jumped in front of him, blocking out the other adults around the fire, so all Daerún could see was his son’s huge eyes

“S’not Gundred’s fault Da, she don’t know how Mumma tol’ it to us, so she can’t say it proper!”

“Please DaThe little girl’s words held tears now as she leaned on his other shoulder and whispered soft in his ear. Dissy won’t know the story proper unless you tell it to us!”

 

Daerún held the twins tight to him, but his face was stern as he looked over at Gundred. She was blushing, but held his eyes and at last she spoke softly.

“They still remember, Daer. They need to remember her too - and the people who saw them safely into the world.”

 

For long moments it seemed that everything was still and quiet as he decided what was best here. He feel the twins’ hearts beating with his as he loosened his grip, stroking their clean wavy hair that smelt like heather on the wind…

“Well, I suppose Dissy should hear the proper story. You’re both sure she wants to? She’s still very little you know?” His voice was gentle and quiet. Both dark heads nodded and they sat down again, both holding his arm in place around them so they were all cuddled together. Gundred caught his eye again and gestured at Dissy’s little cot. He nodded slightly and she reached out and took the baby and her blankets into her arms and brought her over to him.

“You hold Dissy, Da! An’ tell her proper.” Althor spoke stoicly and wriggled out of his father’s grasp as Gundred settled Dissy’s warm little body in Daerún’s arms. Once she was happily snuggled there, the twins nestled back into either side of him and waited for him to begin. He had not done this for so long. Probably it had been months before Dissy had been born, but Dalla had told the twins the story so many times, even before they could talk. Sometimes he had told it with his wife, sometimes alone and he knew that Gundred had carried on telling it after Dalla died. He could not do that though, not when his heart felt as though it had been torn out and he had no tears left. Gundred knew it almost as well as he did. She had been there for most of it after all. For all the really important parts anyway. She had turned Althor in the womb and delivered both twins. But she had not known the whole story, the battle, some of the fighting…

 

He began to tell it, his voice calm enough for he was ‘good’ at telling stories. His eyes however, he kept firmly fixed on the campfire, not wanting to look away from the light where the memories of pain and horror still lurked. Scenes he would never forget. People he had never been able to thank enough. He could tell this easily enough and somehow it felt very right as his babies hugged him and Dissy nestled so sweetly in his arms.

“The day that you Althor, and you Aeglos, came to live with Mumma and I, it was very, very dark. There was thunder and lightning in the sky and the rain was pouring hard. It was very early in the morning, but it felt like the middle of the night. because we could not see the Sun and the wind howled all around. The evil creatures were coming to fight us and so my friends the Rangers and some Elves came to the village to help us. Your gran’da Althor told your Mumma, and her great-granny Dissy, to go to the Great Barn with the other villagers who could not fight so well. Gran’da and I had to guard the Barn and an Elf-woman called Aeglos was with us, helping us, leading the fight. She had fought in many battles and was very, very old. Her hair was as white as the Moon and her eyes glowed like rubies…

 

Her hair was white, as desiccated as sea-bleached bones, and her eyes, when she was not fighting, were the dulled dark red of dried blood. She was very tall and very thin to the point of emaciation and she was always alone, even when she was surrounded by her warrior kin. Even more than his father-in-law, her face had haunted him ever since that day, for it was she who had known the danger all along and stayed with them, with Alfdís and Dalla especially, because she had known that the orcs would try to take the Barn, drawn by Dalla’s birth fluids, by her blood and the promise of tender newborn flesh. His babies.

He carried on the story in a sing-song voice, knowing the words Dalla and he had said by heart. He kept his eyes on the flames, but his mind was away in the past now and Althor, Alfdís and Aeglos were still there, haunting his memory and his dreams…

 

" 'Ware! More are coming!"  Daerûn shouted the warning as he saw around twenty more Goblins hurtling towards the barn. The Orcs already before them responded too and suddenly he was seperated from Althor who was the nearer to the barn door. In a frenzy he hewed and slashed at three Goblins, trying to fight his way back to Althor's side. Out of the corner of his eye he could see that Althor had taken a bloody cut to his sword arm. The young Ranger attacked the nearest of the Orcs with savage fury, trying to make a space so he could fall back a little and go to his father-in-law's aid. But too late, as he saw a silver-haired elf hacking a path through the foe only a few yards away, Daerún heard the sound he had been dreading as Althor screamed out in pain and despair, followed by a huge crash as the barn door was battered down.

 

There had been a few moments confusion as he had fought for space like a madman and then he was there with the Elf Captain in that battered doorway in time to see and hear Aeglos yelling out for them again, as with a snarl, she beheaded a small snaga who was about to attack Alfdís . Daerún had already seen the dead body of Althor as they ran into the barn and as he took in the furious fighting going on only feet from where his wife and newborn children lay, his sight blurred momentarily as he caught sight of Dalla's grandmother Alfdís, white as a ghost, and covered in black Orc blood backing away from two goblin corpses, for she had slain the other with a pitchfork. The one who had torn her son’s throat out.

 

With barely a glance at the other orcs, or even at Aeglos who was now falling, shrieking in agony, Daerún leapt towards Alfdís, who was screaming hysterically now, his only thought to get her out of the way of the fighting and then to put himself between the orcs that were threatening his beloved Dalla and their children.

"Alfdís! ALFDÍS!!" He reached her and tried to move her, but she was terrified and resisted him, scratching at his face with bloody fingernails.

"IT'S ME! Daerún!!" He roared, then, realising she was beyond reason, he hit her hard across the face and just picked her up, slung her over his shoulder and ran towards to where Gundred was waiting, also crying with horror, and thrust the screaming, weeping Alfdís into the woman's trembling arms.

He could hear his voice telling the watered down tale that he and Dalla had told, but he kept his eyes on the flames now, oblivious to the other adults, even Rhian who had not lived in Clalem at that time. All he knew was his children’s warm little bodies leaning on him and the faces of the dead through the flames. Althor, Alfdís and Aeglos. And now Dalla too, as pale as when she had died over two years later, but still living then, clutching their newborns and desperately trying to comfort them, though she had seen her own father killed and Alfdís nearly slain, only yards away from where she had just given birth.
And still it had not been over. As he had gathered Alfdís up and borne her to safety, Aeglos had taken a fatal wound from a huge Uruk’s massive warhammer, even as she saved Alfdís’ life by decapitating the snaga who was aiming to do the same to the old lady. He could still hear that killing blow, smashing into her hip, her pelvis, and her  anguished scream as she fell and fell into the straw-strewn floor. For only a few moments he had been rooted to the spot in horror as the great Orc pressed his advantage and its cruel scimitar had struck and severed the she-warrior’s sword hand above the wrist. And he was there, stock still this time in revulsion as the brute grabbed the bloody hand and bit into it in some
sacrilegious triumph, then gagged and threw it down in disgust, roaring his outrage at her…

"What Elf art thou?!"
"Like none who ever lived! Filthy spawn of my spawn!"
 

Though weakened the vanquished, stricken Elleth's voice matched the great beast's in savage fury, and this finally spurred the young Ranger out of his petrified state as he realised the Uruk was about to strike a fatal blow. But the Captain of the Eldar was there and swifter by far. With a rush Daerún's awareness returned and, as the Uruk and Ellon clashed relentlessly, he took in what had been happening whilst he had been taking Alfdís out of harm's way. Outside the barn he could see that the Eldar and remaining mortals were beginning to push the goblins back at last, so his gaze took in the carnage behind the remaining two protagonists in the Barn. No living goblin, save this... animal, that had battered and mutilated Aeglos. He was about to weigh in with the ellon when another flash of movement to his side caught his eye and again he rushed towards Alfdís who was running to aid Aeglos.

 

"Don't just stand there - help me move her away from them!"

 

Daerún was on the verge of slinging Dalla's granny over his shoulder again, when her sharp urgent tone sliced into him and he understood what she was trying to do. The mortally wounded Elleth was a piteous sight as she tried to crawl away from the furious fighting, blood beginning to soak her tunic down one side and leg where her ancient mail coat was split for riding and more, much, much more gushing from her riven sword arm. Bile rose in his mouth as he realised he was just stood there watching her dying, but he swallowed down hard and rushed to Alfdís' side.

 

Together they tried to pull the Elleth out of further danger as gently as they could. One of them could probably have managed alone in truth - she was light as a feather and her face, always pale, was waxen and the colour of the Snow Thorn for which she was named. She had fought alone for his little family and he had done nothing to aid her...

“Leave me! …Too late… help Nurbor…” 

The Ranger flinched as Aeglos pushed weakly at his shoulder as he and Alfdís both crouched down and laid her back against a hay bale. He bowed his head not able to look into her eldritch red eyes, dulled with pain now as she briefly lost consciousness again. 

"Do as she says - there is little enough anyone can do for her now. Go!" Alfdís'  voice was rough with tension and grief as her old eyes struggled to assess what, if anything, could be done for the Elleth.

 

He had risen like an automaton and did as he was bidden...

 

“… and the brave elf-captain, Lord Caladcrist, he of the silver hair and the fiery blue sword of Gondolin, fought and killed the Uruk who would have tried to hurt you and your Mumma and all the other people in the Barn…”

 

Daerún was still stunned by the awful scenes he had witnessed in this barn as he backed away from Aeglos to let Alfdís tend to the terrible wounds the Uruk had dealt the warrior elleth. The young Ranger now turned his attention back on the great orc and the elf who were relentlessly squaring up to each other. Uncertain and still overwhelmed at the danger his little family had been in - was still in - Daerún watched the foul creature’s movements carefully, judging that the goblin was now very much on the defensive, faced with a very different kind of foe in the captain, who seemed to be shining like a small azure sun.

 

The Elf lit up the barn in an eldritch glow that seemed to suck at the orc’s resolve now he was the only one of his kind left alive in this deathly place . Daerún was still young, but he was no novice in battle and he could see when a foe was on the verge of making a run for it. And so, instead of trying to face the goblin down at the other warrior’s side, the Ranger set himself a few yards behind and slightly to the side of the beast, nodding at the ellon, though he expected no acknowledgement, to let him know he would stand cover should the brute try to escape the wrath of the Guardian's blade.

 

It was as well he had done so, for mere seconds after he had positioned himself the Orc turned and bolted almost into the Ranger’s path, heading like an arrow for a small group of children who cried out in fear. This time Daerún did not hesitate and he leapt in front of the youngsters, sword held firmly at chest height and executing swift little passes from side to side, as the creature realised his way was barred and snarled in fury. Daerún's temper, battered and tried beyond endurance now, suddenly snapped and he simply roared back at the fell beast's onslaught.

"Keep away from them Hell-spawn! Any closer and you are dead for sure!" 

 

The Rangers face was a death mask of hatred and his mouth grinned savagely wide as he saw the elf-captain racing towards the Orc like all the winds of righteous vengeance...

 

“An’ Mumma called me after the brave Elf lady din’t she Da? I likes my name!”

“Me too! Me too! I was called after gran’da Althor wasn’t I? He was brave too!”

 

“Yes that’s right. Me and Mumma wanted you both to have the names of the bravest people who saved you from the nasty orcs.”

Daerún smiled gently at their happy little faces and then leant over Dissy and kissed her soft creamy forehead. She had woken up and her lovely pale grey eyes sparkled up at him as she cooed softly and pulled at Aggi’s curls who was leaning over her little sister, waiting for her turn to kiss her.

“An’ Dissy’s called after great-gran’ma too, wan’t she Da?!”

Daerún nodded his head as his son tickled his baby sister’s tummy and laughed softly as Aggi had to chip in too.

“Mumma said gran’ma was very brave too – but very sad as well ‘cos she loved gran’da Althor so much.”

 

“She was a very brave lady yes. And I’m sure she would have loved our Dissy as much as she loved you both. And now it really is time for bed! Lots to do tomorrow!”

 
Daerún
My children are my life - I fight for them to the death!
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