Retrieving Mablung- Brigade of the White City

Ondoher and his men looked into a dark ruin. Ondoher gave some quick and low commands to search the land for enemies around the perimeter.

In the center of of the ruined buildings was tied Mablung. He was nearly unconscious and could barely move nor speak. Ondoher approached quickly when he saw him, and motioned for a few others to enter as well. Arveleg and Hurin approached from the South, while Turin, Malbeth and Hirgon approached from the East and Ondoher entered from the West, followed quickly by Turgon and Thorondir. As they approached, they quickly saw that they were not alone. Haradrim entered the crumbling building from all sides. Quickly, arrows were fired from both sides of the field, but none found a killing blow.

Turin saw two bow men and feared they would run off before he could charge them, and so quickly wheeled his mount around and charged the both of them, striking them both down without mercy. Meanwhile, Hirgon and Malbeth were fighting the enemy just north of Turin, and they were fought back, and Hirgon was injured, but Turin wheeled about again to ride down the enemies of Gondor. “For Mablung!” cried Malbeth as they were sticking the enemy down swiftly.

Meanwhile, Ondoher gave orders for Turgon and Thorondir to secure Mablung and stay guard as he charged northward to bring down two captains of the enemy. He was parried once or twice, but their spears were no match for his horse and keen lance.

It was near mid-battle that Bareth finally arrived on the battle field from the North. While still in the perimeter, he had tripped over some roots, but he was able to arrive in time to see a Harad bowman who was firing down upon his brothers-in-arms. He posted up behind him, and with his shield up, managed to fight the enemy back and shove him off of his perch, casting the bowman down and he died there. “Mablung!” Bareth cried. “Mablung!”

In the South, Arveleg and Hurin had noticed that they were quickly followed by another bowman, and while burin laid down some cover fire, Arveleg charged in quickly and dispatched the enemy.

It was not long before the Haradrim were all laid low, and the men of Gondor quickly lifted the waking Mablung from his resting place. “I.. didn’t expected… ugh!” He winced as they helped him onto Ondoher’s Horse. “…to see any of your ugly mugs again!” He breathed heavily from the horse.

“You didn’t think you would get rid of us so easily, did you?” asked Malbeth.

They also helped Hirgon onto the mount of Turin.

“Come quickly, men,” urged Ondoher. “We may have slain these, but who knows what enemies could be nearby?”

They silently fled that field of battle, and traveled many miles before finally choosing a resting place. There they tended to their wounds, and set a camp fire and prepared from some well earned rest.

So it was that Mablung had his first true rest in days.

When they all awoke the next day, Mablung spoke of his ordeal with the Easterlings. Instead of dragging him along, they instead found this ruin, and tied him there to die. Fortunately his wounds had not been so severe from the battle, but it was a long time without food, regardless.

Then, Ondoher regaled the tale of the siege of the Dunedain fortress. “It appears much has happened in my time away,” affirmed Mablung. “I am happy to see you all still living to tell of the tale!”

After their morning meal had been consumed, Turgon finally asked something they had all been thinking. “Where do we go from here? We have not heard from our allies in some time, so we do not know of what battles there are to fight, not of where we might do the most good. I think also that we could all do with some rest.”

Ondoher thought for a moment. Turgon was right. They had no idea where to proceed from here. They had been in these northern lands for some time, now, and there was no clear agenda that he could see. “We do need rest, I agree,” said Ondoher. ”I think it would be wise to maybe locate a local haven that we can take that reset in, and from there, strike out to the enemy from there. Perhaps if we locate ourselves in a place like this, we could also be contacted easier.” He pulled out a map from his satchel. “Amon Sul was taken long ago, so that would not do. Eregion is not bustling often anymore either, due mostly to the War of the Elves and the Dark Lord. Bree could be a good place, but it is not necessarily going to be friendly to Soldiers from a far off Kingdom.”

Ondoher went on like this for some time. The men all made a few suggestions, but none could really be counted on for certain without knowing the exact lay of the land. “We need a place that our Northern Kin would be welcomed and could send messages hither and yon.”

It was then that Bareth spoke up. “What of Imladris?”

Arveleg chuckled. “Ah yes! Let’s just walk right into… oh what was the name they call it.. Ah yes, the Hidden Valley. It will be a snap!”

“Now, don’t be so antagonistic, soldier,” responded Hurin. “The Hidden Valley it may be, but Rivendell is far from impossible to find. I will find it myself, sir.” He turned to Ondoher. Clearly this man was determined.

“Then go forth, Ranger of Gondor,” declared Ondoher. “But return swiftly of any news! We cannot sit here in the wilderness forever! I will give you till mid-day tomorrow, then we must move on.“

And with that, the young ranger was off like a deer, leaping into the brush. They waited in that same area for the rest of that day. They hunted as they needed, and made sure to keep an eye out for enemies, but nothing was seen. The night fell, and the next day came, and no sign was seen of Hurin. Then Mid-day came. Still no Hurin. There was a tension in the air, s Hurin was not a bad ranger, for certain. He was one of the best ones they new.

“Well, leave it to Hurin to be the one ranger who can’t range,” quipped Arveleg, trying to ease the tension.

“We will give him two hours more,” Ondoher asserted.

The first hour passed. Still no word from Hurin. The second hour passed. Nothing. “We must move on, men,” the captain stated reluctantly.

They gathered their things and began heading north. “I guess Bree will have to do,” thought Ondoher. The injured were placed on horses, and the company traveled on for an hour, when Turin turned around to casually check behind. He saw the trees move about, and then out of the bushes came Hurin himself.

“There you all are!” took me nearly half an hour to find you! Where are you off to?”

“Well, we were headed to Bree, if you must no.” Responded Ondoher. He approached the ranger and stood before him to a great height, looking much taller than the young man. “Why did you not return hen I specifically gave you an order!”

“Well, I was pressing my self harder when I thought about returning, but then I just felt that fate was smiling on me, so I went further, I checked every path and by-way I could. Elves are particularly difficult to follow, even in groups! Just as I was about to give up, I was suddenly surrounded by elves! ‘What brings you here?’ they asked, menacingly with their powerful bows at the ready. ‘My companions and I seek the shelter of Imladris,’ I said. ‘ my captain Ondoher sends me. We have injured men and need shelter!’ Then they changed their tune! They knew of you and our deeds, and quickly told me the best way to return without leading enemies to the Hidden Valley.”

Turgon turned to Ondoher, whispering, ”You do realize he deserves a promotion for this, right?”

“Not without making him sweat, first, “ replied the captain, subtly. Then he turned to Hurin. “Take us there. Double quick! You haven’t convinced me out of calling you a fool yet!”

So it was that Hurin quickly and quietly lead the brigade to Rivendell. There, they were welcomed by Elrond Half-Elven, and Mablung and Hirgon’s wounds treated. They stayed there for weeks. It was in this time that Mablung was healed of any remaining wounds. Hirgon would need a bit more time to mend, but he was on his way.

It was also in this time that messages from Dunedain and other companies in the North were attained, giving Ondoher a much better idea about the conflict as it stands. Ondoher Also found that his men were at their best when he was there in the thick of the battle, leading by example. The last few battles taught him this, so he will certainly use that to his advantage.

Turin also found that helping to return his Brother in arms to safety gave him this feeling for patriotism that none could extinguish. His charging in will certainly allow him to fight harder.

From the Elves, Turgon learned much, and became deathly accurate with his bow. Arveleg and Hurin also gained Elf Bows from the elves that were made in the style of Minas Tirith. Arveleg also found himself a horse as well. This would make following Ondoher a bit easier to do.

After a few days of rest, Ondoher did eventually give Hurin a further promotion. He was not a fully Fledged Ranger Captain.

Now, with more gear at their disposal, and more intel, Ondoher and his men could more effectively assist the Rangers of the North.

Inner strife- The Scorpion’s Sting

Haarith and his men had been waiting near Dol Guldur for over a month. It was a wicked place, even by the standards of the Haradrim. an evil was there that could not be shaken. They had not received any word from the South in all this time. Haarith was concerned that no help would come.

He looked at his men often, and was certainly concerned that they would follow another, or would outright kill him. He had to be on his guard. Since the previous battle, he noticed that Abaan was less than agreeable more often than not. Was this a degree of rebellion? Bakr was still loyal to him, he could see, but for how long? Who could Haarith trust now? Certainly not Na’maan, that was clear. His absent-minded archery was proof enough of that. Maybe it was all a plan… a planned coup drummed up by Abaan himself! How dare he! That sniveling snake wouldn’t be in any sort of command if it weren’t for Haarith! “I will deal with that coward soon enough,” he thought.

The men were clearly growing restless. They had not seen battle in some time. Na’maan was healed from his beating, but he was ever more cautious around Haarith. Their leader came around and said, “I am going into the fortress… Again.” Na’maan avoided eye contact, as he knew his true hatred would be seen otherwise.  “But I will return, and when I do, we will discuss our next move. Bakr! You are in charge while I am away!” And with that, he turned and left.  Na’Maan sat alone, fletching his arrows. The others appeared to be moving about and not really doing much else, nor focusing any attention on him.

Before long, though,  he noticed Abaan approaching, as inconspicuous as he could muster. “Greetings, friend,” he spoke in a hushed tone. Na’Maan nodded back silently. “How goes the healing, Na’Maan?”

“Messy,” he replied, pointing to his back. Abaan peered into the inside of his armor and clothes. The once bloody back was healing up, but not quickly. “Even the slightest of moves and the scabbing just starts bleeding again, even with that disgusting poultice those orcs gave me helping some.”

“A nasty bit of business, that beating you took,” Continued Abaan. Na’maan continued is work in silence. “I would say that this was a failure, not on your part, but on the part of Haarith himself. He loves flaunting his power about, but he does not do it in the most efficient way.” Na’Maan continued his work, but was also looking out for others, but none were around, or at the very least were not paying attention. Abaan got really close, and spoke  in a hoarse whisper nearly inches from his face. “I believe that when leading, it is more… encouraging for your inferiors to see what you are willing to do for them should they succeed, rather than what you will do to them should they fail.” He slid a coin purse near to Na’maan. “ Think of that should you ever think to shoot near our illustrious leader again…” Abaan stood up and walked off, smiling as he went.

After some time, Haarith returned. Bakr saw that his face was thoughtful. “What is one your mind, master?” Bakr was hoping to get nearer to Haarith after the previous month’s events. He would not be the one to take a beating for failure, that was to be certain. “You seem like you know not what to do with what you have learned.”

Haarith was lost in thought when he suddenly understood what Bakr had asked him. He smiled. “Yes, indeed, I am, Bakr. There are a few assignments that could be achieved, but I do not know which to take from this point. But I will in due time!”

Suddenly, a single Harad bowman approached the camp the company had setup on the outskirts of Dol Guldur. Yazan, the old veteran of the group, recognized him immediately. “Haashin!” He bowed his head, greeting him with what appeared to be respect, something Yazan showed little of to his current peers.

“Ah! Yazan,”The bowman exclaimed. “It is good to see a familiar face among these juveniles!” The two veterans embraced.

“The last time I saw you were riding away east on the ass of a Mumak! What brings you here?”

“Well, Aqil appears to believe this whole endeavor is too important for the rest of you to ruin. Especially after what we heard of the last encounter with the elves. So he sent me to assist.” He turned to Haarith. “I am at your command, mighty Haarith. I have heard much of your endeavors at home and I pledge myself to your cause.”

Haarith welcomed the new comer. This new arrival lead  him to believe that he could proceed with one specific assignment. He dashed back to Dol Guldur and returned before long.

“We must leave at once,” he declared, beginning to pack his things and load up his horse. “There is a company of Iron Hills brats that need to be stopped. They have a token that could make them a tough foe to deal with in the future, and the Masters of Dol Guldur have signed their death warrant.”

The troupe began legging it and traveled as fast as their feet could carry them.

They made their way through to treacherous and evil wood around Dol Guldur, passing various Orc and warg packs as they went. They soon came to the open plains of Wilderland, and crossed the River Running before long. It was about 100 miles south of the Long Lake and the city of Laketown that the Came upon the stunted enemy.

There, on the top of hill, was posted the retinue of dwarves. These are no ordinary dwarves the ones from before. These were clearly dwarves prepared for a skirmish. Their armor was heavy and they had an air of awareness that the small band of dwarves before seemed to lack.

A few road on beasts that the men of Harad had never seen before… great horns they had. Stout yet nimble horses with gnarled horns and filthy, matted beards. Almost as poorly groomed as the dwarf scum themselves. “A perfect pairing,” thought Haashin.

“We must take the hill in order to take those relics from them,” ordered Haarith.

Yazan and Haashin gave each other a look. They had fought many a battle, and knew an un-winnable one when they saw it. However, being the veterans, they knew their example was to be set In order to keep the men loyal to their cause, and to their leader.

Abaan, however caught the gaze of Na’maan. They were clearly not expecting such a rash move on the part of Haarith. They would follow for now… perhaps this would be the slip up that would swing the party’s favor away from Haarith.

“Archers, form up at that wall and do not stop the barrage,” barked their leader. “Spears with me!”

The spears made their way closer as the archers formed up behind a wall. They slowly made their advance, ever wary of the charge of enemy goats. Haarith wanted to charge the enemy on their terms, but this was not going to come for them. As they advanced, a crossbow bolt struck him in the stomach. I shot clean through out his stomach, but he continued forward. Moments later, he was struck again, and was shot down from his horse and saw and heard no more.

As he woke, Haarith saw that all his men had. Wen struck down by the enemy. They had been defeated, and it was not easy to mistake. They all lay there on the field of battle. The dwarves and left already, carrying their accursed relic.

Haarith stood up and began rallying the men to get out of sight. His horse had left the site of the battle, but had not gone far. He lead the beast back to the men who were setting up a camp as best they could. As they  sat and ate their evening meal, no one spoke a word. Unaar and Haashin would not be ready for combat for some time. Unaar apparently managed to wound one of the War goats, but not long before he had his chest caved in by the captain who’s beast he felled. Haashin also was wounded by the mattock of one of the enemies, a terrible injury that looked rather abhorrent.

As they sat in silence, Haarith was going over what to do next. There was no way to guarantee the loyalty of the warriors now. It would take a true miracle.

But then, it would appear the gods smiled upon Haarith this day, for his opportunity came in the form of a Serpent rider, an elite horse-lancer body guard of Harad. “Greetings, mighty Haarith!” Called the unfamiliar face. “My name is Butaan and I bring a message from Aqil, and supplies for you and your men. And a mighty salve to cure the wounds from the mistakes made by your lessers!” Na’maan was furious at this remark.

When the equipment was all passed about, it was clear that the message sent home was received. Haarith was given a new bow, as well as bits of metal and armor to shore up his defenses. The same type of additions were given to Bakr and Abaan. There was also brought a horse for Abaan as well, and he would now use his spear as a lance as well on the back of the beast.

The supplies also cured the arm wound received from the elves not long ago, and these would clearly help in getting the men all back to their best health to fight again. Haarith quickly spun the whole thing in his favor. He began reminding his men of the message he sent to Aqil and that it was he who sent it and how great a help it was to them.

Abaan thought the defeat would be their focus to get the morale swinging towards hatred of Haarith, but it would not be so for the moment. Abaan had been training in secret on his own to be able to take on Haarith in a traditional challenge known as Haabarth, but things were not quite in his favor yet. For now, they would stay under the leadership of this mood-swinging Mumak. For now…

The Search for Mablung- Brigade of the White City

Ondoher finally awoke from a sleep of many nightmares. His evenings reset had not given him much the next day. He kept having recurring dreams of watching poor Mablung fall, and variations on him being taken hostage. It had been a week since the attack of the Easterlings and Goblins upon the camp with the Dwarves, and only 5 days since the host of Orcs and Haradrim  assaulted the crumbling fortress. Ondoher stood up and walked about the camp, thinking hard on the next move.

Much had occurred as a result of that fortress assault. The assault had come suddenly, and even the many Rangers of the North that were holed up in the fortress had not expected such sudden attack. They decided it would be best to leave as soon as possible with the Relics that had been stowed there.

Ondoher lead a charge of Knights of Minas Tirith that had been brought by his cousin, Ostoher, many times into the fray. He charged many of the large orcs down and trampled them beneath the hoof of his horse, Alagos. In the bustle of the battle, Ondoher also managed to find himself a lance of old make, but still well kept. He took it for his own and would use it from this day forward.

Turgon made an attempt with some of the rangers to take a relic off into the woods, but he was waylaid and he was forced to fight with sword in hand, and he slew many. When the battle finally subsided, Turgon examined the relic they had been given. It was none other than a Numenorean Steel bow. The ancient Numenoreans carried bows of great power. This one was no exception. The same distance as a normal bow, but pack a punch as hard as a dwarves crossbow. He would put it to great use.

Turin single handedly charged with his horse and new lance, both acquired at the fortress, many times, and in the process learned much of the need for swiftness in battle, and being able to aid his brothers when they needed help.

Arveleg showed much valor on the battle field, and has been a loyal follower from even before this grand venture. It was because of this that Ondoher promoted him to the position of a Citadel Guard. Arveleg immediately pledged his loyalty to Ondoher, and now took on the role of his Body Guard, a surprising choice to all, knowing Arveleg’s nature as a trickster.

Hirgon also slew many at his feet, as did the new comers Malbeth and Thorondir. It was because of this great valor that he witnessed that a Minas Tirith Warrior named Bareth pledged his sword to the cause of Ondoher.  He was not able to fight by their side, as he had been injured, but he was able to witness the great things that had been done by The Brigade of the White Tower as they fought their way out of that fortress. “I do not come from a noble family, sir,” said the young man, of age 17 at best guess.  “I have not honors or titles, but I do have a sword. I pledged it once to fight for the Kingdom of Gondor. Now, I pledge it to you, Ondoher, much as my ancestors pledged their swords to King Eldacar to fight against The Usurper. I will follow you and assist this Company as best I can, until my life be ended.” Ondoher gladly took this man’s pledge. He was honorable enough, and Ostoher spoke highly of him. He apparently volunteered only a year ago, at 16, the youngest one could join the White City’s ranks. He was clearly not of Numenorean blood, you could see in his eye the passion and fervor that would be needed greatly in any battles to come.

Ondoher looked back at the last few weeks’ events, and thought to himself, “But what should I learn from all this?” we wandered slowly, a bit further out from the camp. He examined the terrain carefully. Ondoher and his comrades had been searching tirelessly through the lands south of the Ettenmoors, near the Govadmilui Sarnianu. They started near it, and then started searching wider and wider. Who knows where those accursed evil-worshipers had left poor Mablung. They could have left him anywhere.

“Two ambushes have we dealt with,” he pondered. “One quite successful,” he thought, rubbing his recent arrow wound. “One failing, but only just.” He looked off in the distance into the trees. “We must learn from our mistakes” he said allowed, to Turgon, who now stood silently beside him. “You men must continue the search. I am going to remain for the time being and study what I can among my strategy tomes. I will not stop until you have returned, and maybe this will give us a leg up in the future!”

“We will continue looking, Ondoher. I will send someone back with word if we find him. Fear not, Lieutenant. We will find him before long!”

So Ondoher left Turgon’s presence, leaving Turgon at the lead for the search.

“All right, men, pair up. Thorondir and Hirgon. Turin and Bareth. Malbeth and Hurin. Arveleg, you’re with me. We will search in a fan from here, facing east. If you find anything, give a whistle like a song bird, and meet back here. One of the pair should head straight back to Ondoher.  If you find anything, return back here at sunset. No need to get another one of you luck heads getting lost in the Wilderness!”

With that, the pairs each methodically searched in an arch, gradually getting further from one another. Hurin and Malbeth tramped forth searching the clearings, and even the rough patches. Hurin could tell that Malbeth was seething, frustrated that they still had not found Mablung. “I know you are concerned, Malbeth,” he said, calmly. “We all are. However, I think that you would be able to think more clearly if you would just take a second to calm yourself. We don’t know what has become of him yet. They may have left him long ago. Or they may have kept him for leverage. But in any case, we will find him and we will bring him home, I know it.” His words did not appear to change anything about Malbeth’s demeanor. Hurin knew of their close friendship, so he understood to an extent, but this was bordering on something terrifying to behold. May the Valar protect any who might stand in his way…

The search went on for the remainder of the day, but still nothing had been found. The respective parties all returned, and came back to the campsite.

There they found Ondoher straining to read his tomes by the firelight. You could tell he had been studying all day. He had removed his armor for utmost ease just sitting on the ground, but as he looked up, the firelight also revealed bloodshot eyes and hair that had not been touched all day. When he saw them, he grimaced, seeing that they had not returned with Mablung. The men all came and sat around the fire. Ondoher passed out rations and they had a rest as they ate.

They first observed the nightly moment of silence, looking towards Númenor that was, and beyond to Elvenhome that is, and to that which is beyond Elvenhome and will ever be. They began eating, and as they did so, Ondoher spoke. “We have searched every inch of this area for a mile in every direction. I think we should move on to the next area of the surrounding lands. I think it would be best to move quickly tonight about 3 miles north of here, and continue the search in a new sector.”

Everyone agreed this was the best way forward. They finished eating, and immediately gathered the supplies and tents, and headed north. There was little to see as they traveled, but before long, Ondoher said, “Here is where we shall camp.” They stopped in a pretty decent sized clearing, and began to setup camp. They were quite exhausted, so they all quickly fell asleep.

It was Bareth that first awakened to the sound of song birds in the trees. He stood to his feet and went to relieve himself out a ways from the camp. As he finished his business, a glint of sunlight of something metal caught his eye as he trend to rejoin the company. He turned back and approached where he saw the shining reflection, carefully. He did not need to search long for the source. There, lying unconscious before him was a warrior of Minas Tirith, laying face down. He turned the face to look at him. A younger man, but with thick arms and legs. He was a behemoth compared to most men, with hands that were not much smaller than Bareth’s own young head. “Mablung indeed,” he thought.

Bareth attempted to lift the man, but he was too scrawny, and Mablung was too heavy to lift on his own, heavy armor all included. Mablung could not be wakened, even after trying to lift him.  “Time to fetch the others, I suppose,” he said, breathing heavily as he stood. It was then that he heard noise in the distance. Surely the enemy was near. He ran as hard as he could, but as silent as his armor would let him. He quickly roused the others. “To arms, friends,” he whispered, finger to his lips. “I have found our Mablung, but I believe there is an enemy afoot.”

“Quickly men,” Ondoher muttered low. “The fate of Mablung in our hands, men. Death to anyone who would harm him! Now go!”

With that, the company moved quickly and quietly towards Mablung’s resting place.

The Govadmiluin Sarianu- Brigade of the White City

The chest that the Men of Minas Tirith had found contained items the like of which  they had never expected to see. The halls of the Descendants of Numenor had not been graced by that of the Sons of Durin as long as any of them could remember, nor did any of them know a time when Dwarves had graced the land of Gondor with their presence. The moonlight shone as they beheld the master craftsmanship of the ancient dwarves.

Ondoher reached in and with a bit of a struggle was able to pullout a large bundle of blue cloth. A soft, rich material  of blue, the make of which had not been seen in the lands of Men. With the bundle removed from the chest, the moonlight was able to shine down more directly, and that is when the true dwarfish nature was reveled.

“Bless me,” declared Hurin. “Is that Ithildin magic?”

“I don’t know of any other type of magic that could be similar,” replied Turgon.

The men of Minas Tirith gawked as the moonlight revealed an elaborate embroidery of a family tree, detailing a vast family tree that went all the way back to a single name.

“ That is none other than Durin the Deathless, or I’m a Dwarf!” said Ondoher. “The dwarves of the Iron Hills would definitely be remiss not want this cloth alone!”

Ondoher then gently removed the wrapping and laid it aside with the greatest of care. Beneath the covering, he found a hefty tome, bound I metal plated leather. He had never seen Dwarvish designs so intricate, even in the oldest history books of the White Tower. The designs were inlaid into the iron plates, detailing stories that he did not recognize. In the spines were set Sapphires that even in their age were stunning to behold in the light. On the front of the Tome were set clearly and neatly written Dwarvish runes, that appeared to shimmer. There were 3 tomes total, all appearing in the same fashion.

Ondoher attempted to open it, but they were securely locked, each with their own runes that appeared to glow brighter when he attempt to open them was made.

“These were clearly made to be opened exclusively by dwarf-kind,” said Turin. “They are a very reclusive folk, dwarves. They never teach their own language to any but their own kin, and I heard they don’t even use their real names with those outside of their own kind!“

“Aye,” chimed in Arveleg. ”I’d want to keep to myself too with women like theirs!” The others began to chuckle, they were cut off quickly…

“Enough!” declared Ondoher. “If we are to secure these dwarves as allies, then they must be treated with utmost respect! You can shall show treat them as you would the Steward himself!”

“Yes, sir!” Came their reply.

Ondoher sat down and wrote out a detailed letter of the circumstances  under which the tomes had been found. He did not go into detail of the items found, for fear of an interception. He then detailed a location that he knew of, a stone formation like a bridge in northern Rhudaur, just south of the Ettenmoors; a well known spot for the emissaries of Arnor to meet with the Middle men of Rhudaur in ages past, known as Govadmiluin Sarianu.  It was there that the arrangements would be made. The young noble sealed the letter with the seal of Minas Tirith.

Ondoher brought it to Hurin. “This land is full of danger, but this letter is important. Your first task as Ranger is to take this and get it to a local Dunedain outpost not far from here and have them send it as quickly as possible to this dwarf leader of the Iron Hills, Mhulo.”

“Aye, sir!”

So it was with this letter that Hurin went off on his first mission alone since his new title as a Ranger. He got himself lost once or twice, but before long, he delivered the message and returned to his brothers in arms.

Ondoher and his men made their way north with the dwarf tomes in tow. They kept out of site of the main roads, but traveled along them, with nothing to report other than the odd traveler here and there. They arrived at the  Govadmiluin Sarianu and found that the dwarves were already arrived. There stood at the top of the bridge a hardy Dwarf with a mattock, followed by two crossbow dwarves, vigilantly scouting about.

Ondoher rode up to the stair, hailing the dwarves as friends to prevent confusion. “To be sure, I was not sure you would have arrived at all! It is good to see friends in these parts!”

“Well, met Gondorian. It seems we have crossed paths most fortunately. It seems you have done a favor large to the Folk of Durin’s lineage.”

Turgon and Turin laid the chest beneath the bridge.

“It was most fortunate that my Lord Beren got word of it! We assuredly would be more than happy to pass on these relics to the folk of the Iron hills. They are of gorgeous make, even more beautiful than we could have guessed in the South. We have little dealings with the dwarven folk ourselves.”

Mhulo began to come down the stairs to see the relic. As he did so, Ondoher watched as a dwarf dismounted not a horse, but a goat! With the biggest horns he had ever seen. Ondoher let his mouth hang for a moment, but a dwarf with a crossbow gave him an odd look, so he immediately shifted his focus back to the task at hand. Two other dwarves approached the chest, clearly eager to see the artifacts of their elder-kin.

“Aye and for good reason, meaning no offense. Our people are most solitary. Our Loremaster, Torvim the Old, sent us leagues from home for such a gift. Now let’s see what gift that be…”

The goat bleated as it hopped up on the stone bridge, finding a good patch of grass.  This still amazed Ondoher, but he had to focus.

“By the beards of the Old…” They pored over the contents of the chest . The dwarves explained how the cloak belonged to one of the Dwarven kings of old, and the Tomes were unknown to any of them. They began murmuring amongst each other in Khuzdul. “Indeed this is work for the Loremaster.” said Mhulo to his companions.

Suddenly, the Goat was getting close to Ondoher and his horse. The horse began to bray and huff and shift around. The rider of the Wargoat began shouting in Khuzdul as he wrangled the goat back to the bottom of the Govadmiluin Sarianu’s  steps. This shook the dwarves from their conversation with eachother in Dwarf speech.

Mhulo finally climbed up and spoke again. “Indebted to your cause, we folk of Durin be, Ondoher, leader of these free folk. These gifts further enrich our history and our culture, and cement an alliance between our people. How would you have us repay such an offering?”

“We only ask that you provide as much aide as you can to our Northern Kin,” replied Ondoher. “But there a many plans to take into consideration, to be sure.” Ondoher and Mhulo brought their voices down low and began speaking of where this alliance could lead.

As Ondoher and Mhulo spoke, The men kept their eyes peeled. The Dwarves of the Iron Hills also looked out It was nearing sunset, and who knew what enemies could be lurking.

They looked here and there, but none could really see anything. The sun had just set, but the moon could still be seen. Mablung casually glanced off to the right, and there he thought he saw a glint in the bushes. He rushed forward. As he did so, arrows began to fly from the multiple sides of the camp.

“Ambush!” Mablung cried! “Now for Gondor! For the Iron Hills!” as he gave this cry, Mablung was swarmed by many Easterlings, and he was quickly dispatched. Ondoher looked quickly over in the direction of the Mablung. “Form up Men! Spears behind! Team with our allies,” he ordered. He turned to Mhulo. “Those are the Easterlings we faced some time ago. They must d wish to see me dead!” he remarked as he rode is horse down the steps of the bridge.

“Well, they won’t have you as long as you have us around. Form up with Nasek . The two of you can ride them down together!”

Ondoher quickly formed up behind the heavily armored goat rider and hey awaited the enemy’s approach. Similarly, the dwarves and Men of the White City came together and formed shield walls as best they could. The Men of Minas Tirith were amazed to see the dwarves of the Iron Hills form up so easily, and with such tight formations. “Not even a mouse could find its way between them!” noted Malbeth, getting as close as he could. He stood himself near a ledge, awaiting the what ever enemies may approach.

Turgon and Hurin quickly set themselves in a position to fire at the enemy Goblins that began to approach on the opposite side of the raised rock.

One goblin made its way to the hill and climbed up to charge Malbeth, But the man quickly fought him off and shoved him back with his shield. As he went to strike, the Goblin ducked out of the way, but its foot slipped on the edge of the cleft and it fell to its doom, and didn’t rise during the battle.

On the southern side of the bridge, Mhulo and the hard mattock-armed dwarves made their stand with Turin ,Thorondir and Hirgon. They met the front line of Easterling’s block of soldiers, while Nasek and his mighty goat  prepared to charge. Before Ondoher could lead up behind him, an Easterling warrior woman shot at ondoher, but struck his horse down. Ondoher fell to the ground, but his armor took the brunt of the hit.

As he stood up, beneath the bridge, Ondoher saw that Hurin had fired many shot. “Hurin, your bow is needed to the South! Fire at that archer! “ Hurin Quickly passed around to assist as best he could.

It was then that you could hear a loud guttural sound from the distance, and Turgon shouted, “I see you mean to be a pin cushion!” With that, the a goblin archer captain fell.

Ondoher heard an arrow whizzing from behind and threw his shield up and nearly was struck by it, but fate smiled him as the arrow was inches away from his face through the shield.

Ondoher got in behind his men who were facing the Rhûnish leaders. “Do not let them in men! For Gondor! For the Iron Hills!” With that, the dwarves and men of Gondor were able to charge in to the enemy and the Easterlings could not move before they were charged by the wall of White Tree and Dwarven Heraldry. “Down Ondoher! “ cried Turin. “That archer has it out for you and you are no use to us dead!” He knocked back an Easterling captain, fighting beside Mhulo, who was wielding his mattock deftly to fight off the attack.

As Ondoher laid himself down, attempting to get himself behind his shield, He looked out at and gazed directly back into the Easterling woman’s helmet in the moonlight, but by then it was too late. Time appeared to slow as the arrow made its way to him and struck him in the shoulder. It knocked his head back and he struck his head on the stone bridge’s base, and he heard no more.

Turin was about to strike out against the enemy, but they immediately began to retreat. “Get those cowards!” The Dwarves and Men were ready, but suddenly the Easterlings had picked up Mablung. They held a knife to his throat and began backing away. “Stop! Let them be. They have done their damage this day,” said Turgon, coming up behind. “We must find him another time. He is out brother, but we do not want to doom him for the sake of avenging Ondoher. “

The Easterlings slipped silently into the night. Meanwhile, the Goblins had done their job, distracting the northern side, so they left when they heard that all was clear.

Quickly, Turgon and Turin approached their leader, and sat him up. Turin held is bracers beneath Ondoher’s mouth, and it began to fog from his breath. “Strength of the Valar, he is alive,” he sighed in relief.

“We thank you for your strength of arms, Master Mhulo,” Turgon aid turning to the dwarf leader. “Your folk are as hardy as it is said!”

Before the dwarf could respond, the gallop of a single rider could be heard. Up rode a ranger, Numenorean features to be sure. “Mae Govannen, mellon nin!” It was an elf ranger. “I was seeking Ondoher, a lieutenant of Gondor, when I heard your skirmish occur. Is everyone all right? Anyone hurt?”

“Mae govannen!” replied Turgon. “Yes. Ondoher, the man you seek, is injured. He needs a healer and quick.”

“Well, it is in a fortuitous moment that I have come. Here, take my horse, Amroth.” the elf dismounted. “He knows the way to where we wish to take your company! There is a small fortress of the Dúnedain that needs your help, and they could definitely provide assistance for your current situation. I can lead the remainder of your company there myself.”

“I will go,” said Turin. Turin mounted immediately. They helped Ondoher onto the horse as best they could and they rode off.

Turgon thanked the dwarves for their service in defending their Lieutenant, and they followed the elf into the wilderness.

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

Ondoher woke to find himself on a well stuffed straw mattress near the foot of a ruined watch tower. There were men  of unfamiliar clothing and features around him, but they certainly did not appear hostile. “This must be a fortress of the rangers of the North,” he thought. He sat himself up in the bed. “Ah! Bless me! It’s good to see you up and moving, sir,” came the familiar voice of Turin. He was sitting in a box nearby, carving a stick with a small knife. “You’ve missed a bit, Ondoher, my lad.”

“Pray tell, what would that be?” Came his response.

“Well, to begin, your leg has been mended. These northern men of Numenorean blood have some decent skill with healing, and were able to mend your wounds . You should be able to jump and leap with the best of them even now! I suspect it’s their connection to elves what makes them so good.”

Ondoher moved his leg and found that it did not catch so much when he bent it.

” Also, they have given me a horse And a keen lance. I shall indeed make use of them quite soon! Your horse Also has been seen to, and is good as new! He just needed a rest and some good healing hands is all.”

Ondoher stood to his feet. He managed to make his way to a nearby bucket of water. As he ladled himself a drink, he pressed further, “And what of the others? How do they fair?”

“Turgon has failed very well! He felt his marksman ship was lacking in the last battle, being limited by unsteady hands when moving. He continues o practice now, and he is  getting to where he prefers moving to shoot!”

Ondoher looked around. Many rangers of the North he saw. It did not take long for him to pick out his companions in the crowd.

Turgon was with several other bowmen, honing his skills and moving as he shot. Hurin was discussing Ranger tactics with the northerner nearby. Thorondir and Arveleg were speaking with the men from Arnor, having a laugh about something indistinguishable from here. Hirgon and Malbeth sparred with each other. But where was Mablung?

“Turin,” the young lieutenant began, looking frantically to and fro to find the Heavy Hand.  “What happened to Mablung? Where is he? What did they do to him!?” His voice escalated as he came close and grabbed Turin by his shoulders and looked him in the eyes. “Where… is he?”

“They took him,” said Turgon approaching, having set his bow aside as heard his leader about. “Those filthy worshippers of the dark lord took him. They used him as a human shield to get away once they did their dirty work.” He spat.

“Then we must retrieve him! Who knows what they have done to him!” Ondoher turned to go get his horse, but Turin laid his hand on his shoulder. “No. they wouldn’t let us leave if we wanted to. They, and therefore we also, are preparing for a siege. The enemy is days away from here, but they need us to shore up this fortress to prepare its defenses. There are relics here that must be preserved.”

“That’s right, and we must assist out northern kin,” said a familiar voice. A voice that Ondoher had not heard in many a month.

“Cousin Ostoher! What in all of Middle-Earth are you doing here?” Ondoher greeted his ranger garb clad kinsman with a long  embrace.

“To come  save your sorry hide, it would seem,” retorted the Ranger. “Lord Beren sent us North with the intent of shoring up a few paces here and there, and then we are to return home when those places have been secured.”

Ostoher had come with a few good men. Two Rangers flanked him, and they were followed by two knights of Minas Tirith  leading their horses. Their retinue also included a guard of the Citadel and two others.

Ondoher would recognize those helmets anywhere. Their white seabird plumage could be seen a mile off. “Truly your errand must be one that our Lord deems a high priority if he sends the Guards of the Fountain!” Ondoher recognized  that these elites were meant only for the business of the King. They only answer to the King himself, yet there had not been any king in a good many years… too long…

“Indeed he did think that,” replied Ostoher. “We are meant to be an elite task force to get work done as quickly as possible, and the. To return. And so, here we be, little cousin.”

“I am grateful to see you, but I still wish to address my missing companion,” Ondoher declared, turning to his remaining men still of afar. “Men of the white city, come hither! We must deal with our loss quickly!”

Hurin came up with Thorondir and Arveleg, while Hirgon and Malbeth come from the other direction.

“What was it that you saw when this happened? Where did they take him?”

No sooner had he asked this question did a blaring horn come from the North, then another in the South, and then another in the West.  Ondoher rushed quickly to his horse and mounted it and saw that in the distance he could see hordes of Haradrim approaching from both sides of the open stone walls. Then he looked elsewhere and saw swarms of the giant orcs he had seen not so long ago fighting for the dwarf relics.

Suddenly a call went up within the camp, “To arms! To arms! Bows at the ready!”

A battle was joined, and the Brigade of the White City was at the center of it all….

Elves! Haarith and the Scorpion’s sting

With a way-point taken from the squat sons of Durin, Haarith and his men had taken a huge step towards creating great trade relations with the Orcs of the Misty Mountains. Once the dwarves fled, Haarith and his men established a perimeter and held their positions.

Their orders were to await the arrival of a band of orcs who would take control of the camp from there. They waited a week, until a decent crowd of Goblins, including the one with the message before, who would be taking refuge for now.

“I will pray to the ancestors that you do not forget who it was that took this land for your masters, imp,” Haarith snapped at the tiny goblin atop the warg. Then, He gestured to a large building, on which the sign of the scorpion of Abrakhan had been scrawled in purple and gold paint. “But my spear-brother Yazan does not trust the ancestors that much.”

“You cur!” The goblin dismounted, more or less falling on his face. How he has taken a leadership position if any kind could not be imagined. “You insult me and my master by leaving this here! We know who to pay when the time comes. You’ll get your gold in the south. But now you have made this ruin an obvious sign of the Harad having been here. Any passers by will see it. Makes it an obvious  target for…”

Haarith stepped to the goblin with frightening speed, his new poisoned spear to the throat of the runt, interrupting him. “Maybe that will be all the more reason for you and your kin to keep a better eye out for it this time rather than falling to dwarfs axes.”

Bakr and Abaan came to back their leader, but again Yazvan intervened. “We’ve cleared the land and claimed it in our own way. If your masters can’t deal with a little flair, they can take that up with The Golden King. This is our culture and we will do as we please at victory.”

“Ugh… fair enough.” spat the goblin. “Here’s more orders. Deliver this  to our kin in the east, in the southern forests of the Great forest near Dol Guldur. The map will tell you where to go.”

Haarith took the map. “We can find the way. ” With that, Haarith mounted his new horse and he and his men went down the road. Their message was meant to be delivered as soon as possible. It was given to Bakr for safe keeping as they traveled the road. And it was during this journey that the Scorpion’s Sting came upon their next battle.

It was near a small stream that Harad warriors came across a small band of High Elves… fully armored… they could see it in their eyes they were in need of the same type of speed that was needed by the Harad. A messenger was on its way to someone with a letter of great import. The Haradrim quickly formed up and stood their ground, firing at the one archer of the enemy. These prim and proper elves could not be brought down by arrows. Multiple volleys did nothing. So it was that Haarith could not wait any more. He charged in with his mount and with that he was ready to ride down this archer. His men stayed back to be able to take some shots at the enemy. It was then that the elves charged the hasty lieutenant of Harad, surrounding him and his horse.

Haarith was ready, though… but  it was then that his brashness was met with a fateful moment. Na’Man saw a chance to bring down the elf scum and shot his bow… but a sudden slip of the finger lead to a shot going right through the arm of Haarith’s left arm… and he fell from his horse, and the horse fled. Na’Man saw his leader fall in horror. He would get the lash for that…

This was the beginning of the end of battle. Bakr and Abaan and the rest charged in … Bakr stayed in the back, knowing his message was more important than his leader’s life.

One by one, the rest of them succumbed to the the enemy until only Bakr and Na’man were left… but the message had to be delivered. Bakr and Na’man retreated as quickly as they could, being chased by the fleet feet of the Elves behind them. They ran and ran and finally dove into the river beside them and were swept down-stream. The swift river would nearly drown them, but it sped them away so the elves could not give chase.

Bakr and Na’man eventually made their way near the battle field, where they met their limping and bleeding friends. When the Haradrim finally made their way to a cave in the Misty Mountains, They tended their wounds. Haarith could barely use this arm, and so they slung it.

When they had all sat themselves down to rest, Haarith finally spoke his mind. “Your incompetence today cannot be over stated!” he shouted. “And you!” He turned to Na’man. “Your shotty bow work could have killed me! I hope you are prepared to deal with the consequences!” Haarith unstrung his bow, now useless to him with a wounded arm. “Bakr, Abaan. Bind him.” They used the bow string to tie his hands to a tree. Haarith manically began stripping the armor and clothes from his back. The horn, ivory and sinew of the Haradrim Bow whistled as the wounded leader beat the bare back of his underling. Once. Twice. Seven times. Ten times. Fifteen. Twenty. Twenty-five. With one more mighty THWACK! the bow was shattered. The young warrior’s back was bleeding profusely. But no tears came from the perpetrator. This was not the time to show weakness. The warriors of Harad do no show fear. They have no other option but to take their beatings.

“Let that be a lesson to the rest of you.” Haarith was seething. The incompetence! The utter stupidity! The only man it seems he could count on was Bakr. “I hope you will learn from this… failure.” And so he stormed off to be alone.

Haarith was livid. What would he tell the masters back home? Fortunately the message was still in their possession, anything less than victory is a loss in the eyes of the Golden King of Abrakhan, and  “We need more men. I won’t be much use with one arm, mounted or no! and we still must deliver this message to the Orcs of Dol Guldur.” He contemplated for over an hour , always coming back to what sort of punishment could be received from his masters on his return. But he also came back to another thought. “We need more men.”

Then he made quick letter in the language of his people. He went back to his men. “Stay here, Mumak, dung. I will return. Bakr, you take the lead.” At this Abaan eyed his rival up and down.

With that, Haarith mounted up and rode back to the Way point from which they came. After a few hours ride, he saw the orcs, lounging about. “So this how they repay our labor to return this place to them,” he thought. “Vermin. A drunken, slothful recline, as if after a hard slog. Meanwhile, we find ourselves against an enemy we barely know!“ But he kept his mouth shut for the moment. Yazan’s wisdom had taught him at least some things.

“Welcome back, Southron!” said the stunted Goblin, feeding his warg. “What happened to you?” he croaked, seeing the arm wound. then he began trembling and pulled his knife, realizing that this could mean a fight nearby. “Where are your men? are there more out there?”

“It doesn’t matter. The elven filth are gone. I bring a message to be sent to my masters in Abrakhan. Can you get it there?”

“Yes i can. What is it for?”

“That is for me to know, alone.”

“Very well. We’ll send it as quick as we can. No promises,” he said as he turned to hand the message to a warg-mounted courier. “They way south is crawling with Whiteskins, both horse lords and the bastards with the Tree. Are you sure there’s no more elves about?”

When he turned back, Haarith had already mounted and was riding away, and shouted, “It may be that they are! It would be good for you to keep a look out!”

As he rode away, in the distance he heard a faint, ”You Oliphaunt riding rats are such bastards!”

The Dwarf Ruins- Brigade of the White City

Ondoher had finally recovered from his injuries from the fight against the men of the East. Ondoher sat and thought long about what had transpired, and knew that his rash behavior had caused the loss. He forced his men to run too hard, and that lead to their exhaustion. He charged in without thinking of the consequences of fighting an enemy with pikes. He was made a fool, and for what? The chance to regain his honor? It was now that a change would need to be made if he was to forge ahead with this endeavor.

He got up and began stretching his legs. He surveyed his men and the damage that had been taken. Poor Turin. He thought of him as a brother, and now his brother was laid on the ground with a serious wound in his hip. He continued to find his choices going awry. To the detriment of his own men, he had taken on a battle-hardened enemy that was not forgiving. It was a hard notion to deal with.

Battle-Hardened enemies, those Easterlings. What were they doing this far West? They have no lands under their control further than the Brownlands. The treachery that Beren, the son of Lord Elgamoth, Steward of Gondor, had sent this company to investigate and help defend against must have run deeper than the lord had guessed. this was no mere rabble of orcs and Goblins. This must have some sort of organization to it. War parties gathering. But who could coerce the the Dark Lord worshippers to leave their lands?

After having lingered in his thoughts, he saw that Mablung had returned from scouting about. But he was not Alone. There was another warrior Minas Tirith, but younger than Mablung. Ondoher looked in his eyes and recognized a young recruit that he knew from years gone by. He had seen about the barracks here and there, but did not know him by name. But there was no way that Lord Beren could have sent out another man for assistance so quickly. What was he doing here?

“Mablung! Your joining our party has come at a most pivotal moment. I was rash and it lead to our men being injured, and my friend Turin will likely never be the same. And in this hour, you come to our rescue, even as we lie helpless on the battle field. You have guarded us well.” Ondoher said these words, and then offered his hand in gratitude, which Mablung took with grace. He bowed his head in humility to his commander. Ondoher continued. “And it appears you have been given assistance…” He looked the new comer in the eye, showing no emotion. “Lord Beren had not mentioned any additional assistance was coming in his letter. Though we can be glad for a strong arm, if strong his arm be.” Ondoher turned, with wry smile, and took a drink from a bucket nearby.

“Um, Yes, sir,” said Malbeth. “Sorry for the confusion, sir! I was a bit behind Mablung, here. I do hope that my tardiness will not be punished too severely.” Mablung looked at his long-time friend, as if to say “Are you mad!?” Malbeth gave a hard elbow into his comrade’s ribs as Ondoher turned back to face them.

“Uh, of course, sir. How could I be so foolish?” Mablung asked frantically. “I should have made mention of him before, Lieutenant. “

“Interesting,” replied Ondoher. He would continue his little game. “Why would Lord Beren forget to mention that a second man was coming? He is not an unintelligent man. I would say he is one of the smarter men i have known. It is not like him to omit such details.”

He looked back at Malbeth. His face showed no sign of wavering from his story. Mablung, however appeared to be quite nervous. “Well, I am happy to have you in spite of the circumstance.” the lieutenant said, finally. “You were here when we needed you, and when Mablung needed you. For that I commend you.” Ondoher laid himself back down on a bed roll. “We need the men, and he does not have evil intent, I am sure,” he thought.

The rest of the men continued to recover. Arveleg would not be able to fight any time soon, and Turin… his would would heal, but it could wind up affecting him for his life. When they all were able to sit up on their own and converse without wheezing or hurting, Ondoher spoke to the lot of them.

“As your commander, I must beg your forgiveness. It was rash of me to take you all out so quickly. When we came to the Eastlerings in the field, we were already all exhausted and it lead to our defeat. Fortunately, Mablung was able to get us out alive, and relatively unscathed. I must also express my indebtedness to you all.  In spite of my reckless behavior, you all fought bravely to the end of the battle.”

“I pledge to you all that the leadership of this company will not continue to ask for your lives to be thrown away needlessly, especially if they are not willing to do so themselves. This is what separates us from the hordes of darkness.” There were cheers of “Here, here!” from the company.

Suddenly, the sound of a galloping horse approached. Those who were able girted themselves quickly, but it was not needed. “I seem to be here in the nick of time, sir!” He said as he dismounted, seeing his brothers-in arms bandaged and bruised. Arveleg, barely able to stand, sat up and said, “Well it is about time! You missed out on all the action, just to show up conveniently right after it ended!” The men cackled.  “I am confident you never took that sword to the gut.  Hirgon, the fearless one, indeed! You probably saw those goblin rats and feigned the wound to avoid battle!”

“Well, if you weren’t already half dead, I’d clock you, trickster,” retorted Hirgon. At this they all called out, but in more hushed tones. Hirgon once charged and vanquished  a wild Warg on his own with no gear, so his doughty nature was usually never questioned, even in jest.

Arveleg laughed, and then wheezed. “Someone must be irritable because he’s saddle soar!”

“Enough of this,” said Ondoher, calmly. “It is time we all knew the plan. Lord Beren sent word with Mablung when he first came to us of a dwarf relic of great import. Some dwarves from the Iron Hills appear to be seeking out that device, and we have the intelligence needed to retrieve it.”

“Iron Hills Dwarves,” remarked, Mablung. “I have heard tales of their armies. Rank upon rank of heavily armored phalanxes of the hard Dwarf Folk. Their skill is legendary, and their ferocity more so. I hear they have dwarf magic that even prevents arrows from even hitting them!”

“Aye! And Uh ‘ear theirrr wuhmen have the mo’ beautiful beards!” Arveleg chimed in in the most atrocious dwarf accent.

They burst out in hooting and howling, the wounded man trying to make his hands into a beard while he batted his lashes. Ondoher rolled his eyes, but you could see a smile cross his face. After the laughter died down Ondoher spoke again. “With this information, we must find the land on which this dwarf relic can be found and find it before the enemy takes it into its own hoards. Lord Beren marked it on this map, here. He said that some farm had scorched and a dwarf settlement’s bones were revealed beneath.”

“What are we even looking for, Sir?” asked Malbeth. “I have never seen a single thing in my life made by dwarves. How do I know what it is if I see it?“

“Well, as with many dwarves artifacts, and even with their common objects,” Turgon spoke up. “it will be likely very easy to tell that it is of dwarfish make, especially in comparison to what buildings of Men are near. The woodsmen and farmers nearby will likely be Middle-men. You should not be struggling to tell the difference.”

Hirgon stood up. “That is good enough for me,” he said. “ What shall we do with the horse, sir? And what of Arveleg and Turin?”

“Don’t worry about me! Just set me up in a hole in the ground and I’ll lie in wait for the enemy!” He Went to take a stab at the air with his arm, but he began coughing.

Turin finally spoke. “I will wait with him. Leave the horse. Should we need to escape, we can ride it. I at least have the strength to fight should we be found. My wound is not yet ready to let me go off to an all out skirmish, though.”

“Then it is settled,” declared Ondoher.  “We shall go forth to the land and begin our search.”

So the company made their way many leagues to the immediate west of the Misty Mountains. When they arrived at the location on the map, it took some time for them to find a place as described by their lord. Then, they saw it. On the edge of this land were 2 groupings of thick woods, but you could see that there once were dwarf foundations set here on the edge of the thickets. Indeed, these foundations were strong, but you could see places where possible dwarf valuables might have been stored.

That is when they saw them: some of the biggest orcs Ondoher had ever seen in his entire life. It would be a race to see who could find the artifact of the folk of Durin first, and who would leave with it.

“Quickly!” Ondoher cried. “Form up, men!” Ondoher and Malbeth formed the front of the shield wall, with Mablung and Hirgon and their spears behind.

Meanwhile, Turgon took Hurin and formed their own archer line. “With haste,” said Hurin. ”They are using the wood for cover!” A few of the large orcs drew into the wooded areas, while one ran off to the fat left flank, and the another orc and a companion flanked to the right.

The men of Gondor’s shield wall made it to an object in the middle of the battle field, but Ondoher quickly realized that it was nothing of value. Seeing this, they chose to peel away to the right flank. They charged to the next item that appeared to be what they might be looking for.

They got close, but Ondoher saw that this may end up being a diversion from the truth Relic.  He let the enemy take it first. As he did so, he looked and saw an orc even bigger than the others. He was dripping with blood from the helm he wore, and he bore a large sword. This thing was ready for battle, and would not be an easy kill.

Meanwhile, Hurin and Turgon fired at the enemy hiding in the woods. Turgon missed wide, but it was Hurin who kept hitting on target, but the thick armor of these orcs would not be sundered so easily. They continue to fire as Ondoher and the shield wall approached another item.

It was then that the Orc picked up the the chest. the creature opened it, and found what it was that he was searching for, and began to turn off to run, but the chest was slowing him down. Ondoher saw this, and immediately charged into the foe, and Mablung assisted him with his spear. The fight was evenly matched, but Ondoher suddenly shoved the orc back and struck him down with mighty blow.

The bigger orc suddenly whipped himself into a frenzy, and darted for the chest, and picked it up, and began to run off with it, but it slowed him down too much. Ondoher and Mablung charged the berserker and were assisted by the mighty spear of Hirgon, who struck the killing blow to lay this mighty orc low.

With great speed, a new wall was formed, but this one was to stand in the way of arrow fire from the orc bowman. Mablung slung his shield and spear to his back and picked up the chest, running off toward where the enemy had come from, with Ondoher, Hirgon and Malbeth forming up at his side.

Turgon and Hurin saw that their companions had the item they needed, so it was then that they charged the orcs in the brambles, seeing their bows were not effective, especially when the orcs began heading towards their comrade. Turgon slew the enemy leader with a great blow to the head, and then charged in to help Hurin fight off another orc. This one was able to fight the two of them off. The orc bowman shot at the shield wall as it charged off at a slow pace. “Steady men! Don’t falter! We can still win the…Agh! “ Ondoher was interrupted by an arrow through his knee. He immediately fell to the ground. “Forge ahead, men! We must retrieve this for our allies!”

At this, Hurin and Turgon continued to fight, Hurin slaying an orc, but as their friends continued off into the distance, they were over run and knocked unconscious and could remember no more.

The men of Gondor were able to slay a few more orcs, until finally, Mablung was able to flee the field. His valor had won him the day.

Once the battle had subsided, the comrades were able to come together. The Company brought their prize back to the camp where they left Turin and Arveleg.

Turgon and Hurin survived the ordeal with relatively no serious damage to show for it. The leg wound Ondoher received would slow him down, but with the Horse promised him by his Lord and benefactor, this would hinder him little on the battle field from now on.

Turgon, however, had learned from his experience. His devotion to the whole of his company and for his People shined through today, being willing to take on many for the sake of the White City. Ondoher also learned from the skirmish. His strength was not what it should be, so he began training to increase his strength.

Hurin had been through much. Ondoher knew it would please him greatly to join the ranks of the rangers of Ithilien, so he sent a letter back as swiftly as possible to Minas Tirith with a strong recommendation for him to join their ranks. “I think, Hurin, it would be beneficial to us all for you to drop the Armor of the white city for some Ranger gear.”

“Yes sir!” He quickly dropped his armor and took the facade of a ranger. The lighter armor made it easier to fight, and easier to shoot. Ondoher could see the light in his eyes, gladly taking on the ranger role of the crew.

“And Mablung,” Ondoher said. “Tales of your deed shall be sung by that of the dwarves for many years to come.”

“That is not what one thinks when they say that tales will be sung of you, but i will gladly welcome a stiff dwarf ale if they are willing to buy!” responded Mablung.

With that, the company laughed, again. They were in good spirits after their victory and remained rather merry.

With this victory came The promise of additional support. Yet another Spearman was sent by Beren to get their assistance, named Thorondir. The company had grown to quite the skirmishing force. They were now ready for whatever it was that they may face.

At the coming of Thorondir, it suddenly dawned on Ondoher: they had not even opened the chest with the prize they sought. What was this great dwarven artifact they were charged with retrieving? Ondoher opened the chest, his company gathered around him. Then, they saw it. They were all shocked and amazed to see the object inside….

To be Continued…

Ondoher’s Wrath- Brigade of the White City

With their pyrrhic victory against the goblin scum of Moria left Ondoher in a foul temperament. The evils of the enemy gave him quite a frustrated demeanor. Turgon could see that the injuries he suffered went further than that of the sword wounds he received. “Thank the Valar that there was no poison on the blade,” he thought. Trying to encourage his leader, he spoke up. “We can carry Hirgon back to the Farmer and allow him time to heal.” Hurin and Arveleg helped carry their fallen brother-in-arms.

“Brother, do not despair!” Said Turin, hoping to help lighten Ondoher’s spirits. “You may have been brought down by the scum, but you can’t expect to win every battle. We were outnumbered by the filth and their leader was able to throw down Hirgon, and you besides, but in any case, we did manage to  beat them senseless for it! Then they skittered away like the cowards they are!” Turin was rather pleased with how the battle had gone, having brought many of the Moria Rats down himself.

This did not encourage Ondoher any more. He remained silent as they finally arrived at the house fo the Farmer. As before, the man was kind to them and offered to let them all stay in the farmhouse with him for the time being, until Hirgon had the strength to leave himself. And they did stay for a fortnight.

The rest of the men were glad to find rest for a bit, but the rest did not help Ondoher. He was often pacing back and forth, reliving the battle in his head, thinking of what could have been done differently. But the fury of his heart would not be quenched by re-living the experience.

It was on the 14th day of rest that a new comer to the company arrived. Mablung, a spearman of Minas Tirith arrived, his strong hand brought with him. He was on a horse, and he was bringing a message  from Beren, the Steward’s son. This is how it read:

To Ondoher Lieutenant of the White Tower

News of the defeat in Eriador reached us quickly, which lead us to believe things were worse than i could have feared. I have decided to send  Mablung, the courier of this correspondence, to provide more assistance. The Steward believes his family to be one of hardy stock, and a strong arm. May he bolster your company.

I also bear news of another kind that i think will greatly benefit the Cause in the North. There is tell of a farm near the Misty Mountains that was burned to the ground. We are not sure if it was from an orc raid or from a natural fire, or something more sinister. That aside, there appears to be ancient dwarf relics hidden in it that our allies in the North believe could be a great asset. Items of ancient craft of the Sons of Durin that could help secure the alliances of some of the dwarves in the region that have come to their aid.

A dwarf of the Iron Hills named Mhulo seeks relics of his kin, and securing his loyalty to the cause of defending Arnor Could be of great benefit.  If you can successfully obtain this relic, you will be rewarded greatly. Indeed, with the horse Mablung rides on! I pray that your men can muster the fighting gumption to gather up this relics. Our Northern kin are in great need.  A map has been provided with the location.

Beren, Son of the Steward.

Ondoher saw that this was his chance to gain back the Honor that he had lost. “Stable this horse! We leave now. We cannot wait for Hirgon to  heal. We must leave at once!”

“Leave now? He is not yet on the mend!” replied Arveleg. “What are we to do? Just leave him here while we few go out tramping about these unfamiliar lands? How will he ever find us?”

“ We do not have time for this questions. Sir, you know this land, do you not?”

The old farmer agreed he did know the land and would tell Hirgon how to find them at the location of the Relic.

So it was that the men of Gondor set out again. they had traveled a few days nothing and no one hindering them. Ondoher was pushing them hard to their destination. But then, something happened even many wise would not expect.

Hurin, having keen sight, looked on the horizon. There was a number of ruinous walls here and there, but then he looked and saw a small shrine, a left over building of a by-gone age. in it stood the most unlikely imaginable enemy: the corrupt and evil Men of Rhûn. “Men of the East!” he cried.

Ondoher knew much of the Easterlings. Their people were a sworn enemy of Gondor, and were worshippers of the Dark Lord, once upon a time when he still walked Middle-Earth. Knowing what threat they could posed, he knew he could not let them stay in the region. It was the time for them to scare them off, showing that even the Might of Gondor was able to be dispatched this far North.

The men of Gondor setup behind a wall. Turgon and Hurin fired their bows, managing to strike down an warrior. “We have it now, men! “ Cried Ondoher. “Follow me! Form up!”

Forming a small shield wall, archers in the rear, the men of Gondor charged in to get up to another to setup a defensive position. Many of the enemy’s arrows flew, but none could penetrate their Gondorian shields and plate armor. Once to the wall, the scrap really began.

The enemy charged in, and in turn flanked the Men of Gondor. The Easterlings made great use of the reach of their pikes, only requiring one man to go toe to toe with Ondoher, but being support by 2 others.

As the two lines clashed, Turgon charged in with Arveleg, and made an attempt to take down their enemy to help  Turin beyond them, but was fought back by the ferocious  response of the single warrior. Turin would fight, and fall on his own.

The Men of Minas Tirith  rumbled with the enemies of Rhûn for some time, but one by one, they all fell. Mablung, the new comer was able to hold his ground, but the battle was not longer in his favor against the many. It was in this moment that he fled, knowing there was no honor in dying when his brothers needed tending to.

Mablung lost the Easterlings, but was able to come back around and gather his comrades up. He hid them quickly, and they rested for some time.

He sat long silently in defense of his friends, when he heard a rustling in the woods. He readied himself to shove his spear into the face of the first Easterling that came through… But then appeared a familiar face. A young warrior of Gondor made his approach. “Well, what has you on the swords edge, friend?’ He suddenly looked around, “Is the enemy at hand?” He drew his sword… It was Malbeth, a long time friend of Mablung. They had gone through the basic training together, and became fast friends through their duties.

“You nearly caught a spear to the eye, halfwit! We were waylaid by Easterlings and many fell.

“Then i suppose that means it is good that i followed you here! It would have been terribly dull without you to scrub the floor of the barracks with me,” replied Malbeth in a hushed voice. “Looks like you could use a hand.”

Mablung sighed.  “You are a fool, but a welcome site nonetheless. They may court martial you for leaving your post.”

“Then i expect a shining recommendation from you when this Ondoher asks about it.”

With that, they sat quietly, awaiting for the company to get the rest they needed. Before long, they all made a Full recovery, but Turin received a wound that would remain with him for some time, and Arveleg was would not be able to fight for some time.

In Defense of the Farmer- Ondoher and the Brigade of the White City

Ondoher and his men had been traveling long. They had finally reached the southern regions of Eriador, when they happened upon a cheerful smoke rising from a chimney.

They had arrived upon the homestead of elderly man of the North. Clearly he was not of Numenorean descent, but he had kind eyes. Likely one of the Middle men of Bree. They approached, their arms away, to show their peaceful intentions. After some pleasantries, Ondoher talked to the man and asked if it were too much trouble for them to camp nearby. The man welcomed them and said, “It would not be any trouble at all, friends! We have food if you need it and there is a river nearby for drinking water.”

Another younger man who was working the land approached and, as they were speaking of local news, he said that things had become queer of late. Not any birds nor beasts had been about in the last weeks. “Strange times these are, sir! Though, It is good to know that the Stewards hold the North in their memory.”

They thanked the man with many bows and blessings and setup camp a mile or so out. It was nearing night and it was during the watch of Ondoher that he noticed another rising smoke yonder. It was not a cheerful one as he had seen at the farm. This was a sinister fire, one that seemed out of control.

He calmly woke his brothers in arms. He ordered quietly, ”To arms brothers! To arms!” They headed in the direction of the smoke to find that a band of goblins of the misty mountains were gathered, and headed in the direction of the homestead. This was their time. So the men of Minas Tirith gave a battle cry and Moved in the enemy. “Let us show these foul creatures the bight of Gondor steel!” Cried Ondoher , and he lead the charge forward. “Turgon! Hurin! Get to that hill and fire at will!”

The evil vermin saw them and also knew what needed to be done. The goblin captains new where their strength lied. The men of Minas Tirith lined themselves against a pillar, trying to give their bowmen a wide berth and an opportunity to get some arrows flying. Though this allowed for Turgon to bring down a bow-goblin, the stunted orcs took advantage of their numbers and trapped the shieldmen. Ondoher was nearly wounded, but  avoided the strike of the goblin leader only barely. Hirgon, however, was not so lucky, and was struck down by a Goblin spear. fortunately, Turn and Arveleg were able to slay some of the vermin, allowing the four men with spears and swords to fall back.

It was during this retreat that Turgon and Hurin came down from the hill. But their bows could do no work from being their comrades. Ondoher was able to bring down another enemy, and Turin and Arveleg continued to hold back the line of goblins.

The goblin hordes charged again, and it was in this moment that Ondoher was hewn by the goblin Captain’s  thrust. There was no way for them to gain a victory in this show of force. Turin, seeing his Captain down, took the lead, and continued to fight back. The bowmen joined the line, and with the slaying of the other monsters, the battle ended when the goblins had all fled, even the captain.

The men retreated back to their camp. Though fighting off the goblins and preventing the raiding of this orc menace had been achieved, it was at a cost. Fortunately, Ondoher is made of sterner stuff and recovered from his wound. Hirgon would need time to recover, but his spear arm would indeed be missed.

So it was that, in time, hearing of the state of this band, Beren, the Steward’s son, sent forth a another warrior of Minas Tirith. He was a young recruit, daring and ready, named Mablung. His name suited him, for his heavy hand indeed had slain an orc or two, quite brutally.

Their camp now made into a place of healing, the men of Minas Tirith tended their friend. They awaited any message sent from the Dunedain, willing to take on any task.

The Dwarf Outpost- Haarith and the Scorpion’s Sting

Haarith  Finally looked out onto the land of Eriador. It was not a country he had been to, nor the kind of land he was used to. In fact, it was cold. Colder than he had expected. They built 2 fires their first night.

Haarith and the Scorpions received their orders quickly. A small goblin arrived on a warg that was (quite honestly) too large for him at the rendezvous point, carrying a bundle in hand. “Golfimbul sends his regards, Southron,” He hissed, thawing the parcel at Haarith’s feet. “Do not disappoint, or his wrath will be swift.” He then turned tail rode away, barely clinging to the wolf as it rushed away.

Haarith stood to draw his bow, aimed at the runt. “What sort of insult do these allies send us.”

“Peace, child,” said Yazan, bringing Haarith’s bow arm down. He had dealt with their kind many times before. “This sort of insult is common, even among themselves. They have little care for anyone.”

“They should treat their long-traveled allies with respect,” said Haarith.

“It is their way. Learn to live with it, or step down,” snapped Yazan “They are the only allies we have against those bastards of the white city. And if dealing with their insults is what we must suffer to destroy the Gondorians northern cousins, then so be it.”

Haarith was surprised to see such fire, but also glad to have Yazan’s experience and rage at his side. He then opened the bundle to find some supplies, though none that any of his men trusted; meat and bread from an orc was something even the Haradrim would not do. It also came with a scroll written in poorly scrawled Black Speech. Yazan read it to him.

The orders from the local orc chieftain were attack  a band of dwarves protecting a local trade route. If they could chase them off through force of arms, the Haradrim and orcs could setup their own way station here to guard the way for trade.

The dwarf leader and Haarith eyed each other across the ruins… they knew that if they could prove their strength here, they could solidify the claim of the area… but to whom would go the victory? And at what cost?

The enemy did as you would expect from dwarf vermin, staying in a close formation to begin. Haarith then used the dwarves’ initial speed to his own advantage. He had his men separate across the ruins Haartih was followed by Abaan and Bakr on the left flank, while the companions Maazin and Na’man took the right, and the brothers  Udyal and Unar took the center, backed by Yazan. this formation forced the dwarves to spill their forces. “Foolish squatted looking imps,” thought Haarith. “Staying  together would have been their advantage. Their brains must be made of mumak dung.”

Due to their stunted legs, this formation allow the men of Harad to fire multiple shots. The keen-eyed bowmen hit the dwarves many times, but then they appeared to keep coming… “Curse these bearded churls! Their armor could turn back a charging Bull Mumak!” cried Udyal. Though an enemy, one had to admire the heavy armor that was born by these little dogs. Even poison of the Jungles of Deep Harad are no match for well crafted armor.

By battle’s end, Haarith slew 3 of the dwarves,  though he had the help of his companions. However, the mighty hero of the battle was the mighty Yazan, the elder. He slew 2 of them on his own, striking true into the parts of the armor that a less experienced soldier would not know to look for.

Finally, the battle came down to a dwarf with shield and their leader. Surrounded, the dwarves fought back mightily, wounding both Maazin and Abaan. The brave Maazin will need time to heal from his wounds for the moment, but Abaan was able to make a complete recovery, but he does have a sudden dislike for dwarves and their kind

Much was learned from the skirmish as well as earned. With hearing tales of his strength of arms and his prowess, Haarith was given much by his benefactor, Aqil, servant of the Golden King of Abrakhan. He was sent a scroll, explaining the details of the best plants and animals from which to extract the most vile toxins in all of Middle-Earth, making Haarith a Master of Poisons. He was also supplied with a war spear and a horse, making him a much more deadly foe.