Lord of the Rings: Fall of Man | IC | Always Open

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Lord of the Rings: Fall of Man | IC | Always Open

Postby Elerian » Mon Mar 01, 2021 9:56 pm


“Cold be hand and heart and bone,
and cold be sleep under stone:
never more to wake on stony bed,
never, till the Sun fails and the Moon is dead.
In the black wind the stars shall die,
and still on gold here let them lie,
till the dark lord lifts his hand
over dead sea and withered land.”

The Ithryn Luin, thought to have gone from history have returned to the West at the head of a great host. Although they have already made inroads towards Rhun, what their goals may be remains unclear. With the Dark Lord unwilling or unable to influence events, his violent and greedy servants have already moved to take advantage of the situation. Sauron’s vassals have become cruel overlords in their own right. To the West, in the desolate lands that had once constituted Arnor, the beast Thuringwethil terrorizes what few Free People remain West of the Misty Mountains. From within the great peaks of the Misty Mountains a great fiery evil stirs once again in the deep. In the Gap of Rohan, Isengard solidifies its iron grip on the men of the Wold. In the vast depths of the Mirkwood forest, Shelob heralds a great host of spiders where once the Elves called home. Not far from Mirkwood lies the lonely Erebor, lorded over by Smaug the Chiefest and Greatest of Calamities, awakened into a new era of domination. The Nine Nazgul and other vassals under Sauron enjoy vast lands that he had won for himself. The Witch King, Khamul, the Mouth of Sauron, and more lackeys are spread thin across Middle Earth, leading Sauron’s hosts to ensure his victory. Without the will of Sauron to lead them, it bodes ill for Middle Earth.

A new age of foul dominion looms over Middle Earth. The fair and free peoples of Middle Earth have almost all been subjugated, killed, or long have fled. Many mighty and terrible powers remain in Middle Earth and they covet the Empire that Sauron built but could not keep for himself. This hard fought empire is soon to collapse as the greedy and ruinous tyrants of Middle Earth fight over her riches. Sauron’s empire is dead, but what comes after may be greater or lesser than what came before it. As the drums of war begin their thrumming, a new age beckons.

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Remnants of Exilvania
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Founded: Mar 29, 2015
Iron Fist Consumerists

Postby Remnants of Exilvania » Tue Mar 02, 2021 3:07 pm

Fornost Erain
Citadel of Dread

Times were changing, she could feel it in the wind, see it in the light of Anar, the sun, and even smell it in the air. The dark shadow, the great dread that had kept Middle-Earth in its grip untill but a few days ago, had suddenly waned, an event that should have been impossible. Afterall, wasn't Sauron's domination absolute? Wasn't his victory total? Had the Valar not retreated from Middle-Earth? Wasn't his might unbreakable? Even now she could feel that his might and power still was within the world...but his will, she could no longer feel it.

Thuringwethil had spent the last several days alone in her throne room in the highest chamber of her Citadel in Fornost, brooding. Built upon the foundations of the old Numenorean Citadel and wrought using plenty of iron and other metals, it had been turned into a sturdy, dark tower of her own, a smaller rival in the north to the black citadels of Orthanc and Barad Dur. This sturdiness would perhaps be necessary soon as this sudden lack of the Dark Lord's influence opened a wide range of possibilities and opportunities. Possibilities and opportunities she had long thought about in the solitude of her citadel yet she could not dally for long and had to make decisions.

The first to enter her throne room was a brutish man, by his stature one of those counted as a Middle Man by the Numenoreans in the days of old. Though the Dunedain recognized his people as Men of Darkness these days for he was Rhudaurim and his people had allied with darkness and fought the Dunedain. His name was Rolt, Rolt of Clan Renridoc, and he and his clan were some of those Rhudaurim Hillmen who still remained by her side, even after her failure to destroy the Free Peoples forever and the arrival of the Dark Lord's new lieutenant in Angmar. Rolt was a, by all accounts, wicked man, a man who respected only strength and lived to see weakness punished or dominated. A man who held a certain amount of respect among those of Angmar.

He did not hold Thuringwethil's respect. Practically sneaking into her chamber, his gaze constantly wandering upwards the ceiling covered in blackness, a moving blackness with the occasional flapping of wings to be heard and red eyes gleaming down at him. The ceiling was covered in dozens, nay, hundreds of massive bats and the weak man before her was afraid. Though perhaps she shouldn't judge him too harshly, atleast he still walked upright, even if he tried to make no sound.

Rolt stopped at a respectul distance beforing lowering himself onto one of his knees and inclining his head before her, greeting her with:

"My Dark Lady, what do you desire of me?"

"Change is in the air, Rolt, son of Volt of Clan Renridoc. You can feel it, can you not?"

Rolt looked up, a mix of nervousity and curiosity in his eyes as he did so and nodded.

"You shall act as my envoy to Angmar. I need certainty about the current situation and the lieutenant of the Dark Lord in Carn Dum is the only way available to me of acquiring it. You will pick an escort of loyal men and ride hard northwards once I am finished here."

Rolt didn't quite seem to get the cue, asking:

"And what am I to tell the mighty Witch King?"

It earned him a stern glare from Thuringwethil's grey eyes and sudden increased flapping from the bats above him, causing the Hillman Chief to scoot aside in fear. This little annoyance taken care of for the moment, Thuringwethil turned her attention back to the door which opened a second time, a goblin with a few scrolls of parchment, an inkwell, a human bone carved in the likeness of a feather, a blood red candle and a stamp scurrying into the throne room and offering all those items to Thuringwethil who proceeded to write up a message to be presented to the Witch King of Angmar upon Rolt's arrival in the north. It read the following:

Hail, Servant of the Dark Lord,

Middle-Earth is changing and in these hours it is crucial that swift action is taken. To make such swift action possible, I believe it to be of the utmost importance that a meeting between the two of us is arranged at the earliest convenience.

Due to the limitations of my form and the dangerous strategic location, with the remaining bastions of the Free Peoples to my west, I hope you can understand that I will not be able to attend a meeting far from my holds. It would thus be for the best if you were to make your way to Fornost Erain, the last capital of old Arnor. I will await you in the Citadel of Dread.

Thuringwethil, Overlord of Eriador.

Her gauntleted hands quickly rolled the parchment up and dripped some wax from the candle onto it, pressing the stamp on it shortly after, sealing the scroll and leaving her, well, seal on it. A bat with spread wings, the eye of the Dark Lord making up its torso. She would have to get rid of that and create her own seal in due time but for now it served its purpose perfectly. Meanwhile the door to her chamber opened yet again and another man entered her chamber, this one decked out in full mail, hiding many of his features though he carried himself similarly to Rolt. His name was Gonnoc of Clan Godrint and unlike Rolt he was from the south, from the Dunland specifically. Some of their number had been migrating northward, settling into Cardolan and had been quite willing to enter her service in order to get back at the descendants of those who deforested the Enedwaith and enslaved their ancestors, the Dunedain.

He too came before her throne, kneeling at a respectful distance and keeping his head down:

"Gonnoc, son of Donolt of Clan Godrint, I am pleased that you have answered my summons so quickly."

The Dunlending remained silent, merely inclining his head further to show that he acknowledged her words.

"You are to ride south along the old North-South Road and make for the Orthanc. You are to act as my messenger to the White Wizard."

At this Gonnoc raised his head and glared first at her, then at the scroll to her side. She merely shook her head however, saying:

"No, this scroll is not for you to deliver. Yours I shall write now."

Hail, Istar,

Middle-Earth is changing and the power of the Dark Lord appears to be fading. Yet his servants still roam the lands and in their delusional loyalty to the Dark Lord they can still be of great pain to the both of our realms. As such I am certain it would benefit both of us greatly to agree to leave the affairs of our domains in one another's hands so that we can focus our attention on more important matters, such as vast number of followers of the Dark Lord.

Perhaps a further, more in-depth agreement could be made between our envoys on the bridge of Tharbad, if this idea is agreeable to you?

Thuringwethil, Overlord of Eriador.

Again she sealed the scroll. This time the Dark Lord's eye on her seal was less useful but the Istar would likely understand that such details were trivial considering the speed at which things developed. Meanwhile the door opened yet again and once more someone strolled into her chambers, albeit this servant was very different from the others. It was a great Werewolf, holding the unimaginably creative name of Blackfang. Sometimes Thuringwethil wondered if the evil spirits that possessed the wolves' bodies were simply that simple minded or if it was the melding between them and the simplistic animals that made them so. Either way, Blackfang was here as well, on all fours and with his tail cast low as he pressed his snout onto the ground before his lady.

"Grimfang, good, I have been awaiting your arrival. The coming days will be days of great unrest and upheaval. I expect you to spread the word to your kin and the Wargs and Wolves that they are to remain especcially vigilant. Should there be movements to our north, west or south, I wish to hear about them immediately."

Grimfang merely whined in response, his tail wagging a little. Now, everything had been taken care of, right? Thuringwethil handed the two scrolls to the shaking Goblin who quickly scurried to the two men and handed them over to them. All that was left was sending them all on their way, right? No, someone was still missing.

With a dangerously low tone she asked:

"Where is Skorgrim...?"

And as though to answer her question, the sound of heavy footfall could be heard through the heavy doors to her chamber. And everyone knew to whom it belonged. The heavy feet of a short, stout and most importantly dead creature, its body animated by the foul spirit that it now housed. The room became notably colder and the men, even the goblin, tried to retreat as far back to the walls as they could before the door swung open and a vicious looking dwarf marched in. Skorgrim Dourhand had been by no means beautiful in life, yet in death he looked even more terrible, his skin having taken on a sickly green hue due to the rot beneat it, his eyes glowing with the unworldly force of the spirit housed within him. His teeth were all crooked and his clothes and armour merely a torn parody of what he had worn in life. The temperature in the room notably declined.

With a heavy clunk he dropped his massive warhammer on the ground before getting on his knees before Thuringwethil, two voices overlaid over each other seemingly starting to speak, one hoarse and guttural, the other unreal and vile:

"You have summoned me, Dark Lady?"

A content smirk played around Thuringwethil's lips as she replied:

"That I have indeed, Skorgrim, for I have a task for you and the remainder of your Dourhands. More specifically your Dwarven ingenuity and craftsmanship. The old Numenorean city of Tharbad to the south lies in ruins. It constitutes the most important crossing over the Gwathlo and as such is of major strategical importance to me and my realm."

The dwarven Barrow Wight looked up, his eyes burning at Thuringwethil:

"So my orders are to march south to Tharbad and do what?"

"Silence! Patience and respect are qualities you appear to be lacking in. Speak out of line again and I will have you lose that strong body of yours and send your spirit naked out into the void.

Now, yes, you are to march your battalion of Dwarves to Tharbad. I expect you to get the garrison in shape and construct defensive works and reconstruct proper garrison quarters, smithies and other necessary localities to ensure that Tharbad stands as an impressive hold in my realm, overshadowed only by Fornost itself. It should help to impress the southerners and should the White Wizard decide to parlay with me, you will act as my emissary in Tharbad, is that understood?"

Skorgrim inclined his head again, lowly rumbling:

"Absolutely, Dark Lady."

Pleased by his submission, Thuringwethil leaned back in her throne and gave each of the servants present a glare before finally stating:

"You are dismissed. Fulfill your tasks to my satisfaction and great rewards shall be yours. Fail me and you need not bother returning to me and may die were you stand."

Her servants all bowed before her again before leaving one after another through her door, the men being especcially fast in that regard, clearly trying to outspeed the Barrow Wight, an unnatural thing in their opinion and as such something they feared. And yet, when they all had left, she slowly cupped her head in her hands and sighed, asking quietly into the empty room:

"Oh Mairon, just what has happened? We were so close..."
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Empire of Techkotal
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Founded: Apr 09, 2020
Psychotic Dictatorship

Postby Empire of Techkotal » Wed Mar 03, 2021 11:33 am

Saurons forces and his evil minions subdued all of Middleearth. Did I say all of Middleearth, no there is one corner of the world resisting the forces of evil. Far far in the west travelers would find the peacefull Hobbits and beyond the mighty dwarven kingdom and the elven kingdom. Our story leads us over beautifull dwarven roads high up into the mountains. Because deep under the blue mountains in their halls of stone the dwarves prepare for war. The fires of the great war are over. Saurons seems to loose his grip on his evil minions. The evil Lady of Eriador has freed herself from Sauron and does now seek to establish herself as the new Overlord.
All dwarves agree, the time has come. While the forces of evil are weak and the iron in their furneces is still hot they shall strike. They shall regain their sense of security and honor. They shall march to free the free people of Middleearth or at least their trading partners in Eriador.

The fire bowls cast a warm light over the table, upon which maps of Eriador and a few Beer mugs lie. Several dwarves stand around the table. They discuss the plan to recapture Eriador. Then the regent of the Ered Luin comes into the hall. Gimli walks toward the maps. Shortly looking at them and then judging the planned movement of the army.

"We have to leave a small garrison in our holds to protect them my regent. Appart from that around a thousand dwarves are ready to march. More can be trained and armed" says his right hand Ofis "Of course thats going to take some time." Ofis moved several figures of dwarven warriors and dwarven rangers over the map. He then positioned a few more figures on the dwarven holds of the Ered Luin.

"Even if we were to take back some lands in the east, we still have to secure supply lines and points of strategic interest. Depending on there we strike we have to either conquer Anumminas or Bree" says Gandohir Gimli's master of supplies. "Though Bree is most definetly the most important. As you know in Bree the Greenway and the east-west road cross eachother. Apart from that the people of Bree would most definetly help us. Afterwards we have to secure weathertop to the east and the Sarn Ford to the south. Ensuring the safety of Bree."

"Even if we take these point we wouldn't have enough troops to hold them. My regent it would be wise to request aid from the elves in Lindon. They are still very powerfull. If they send only a few hundreds we could hold the lands west of the Brandywine, but even with them that wouldn't be enough. We need the Dunedain on our side and maybe a few dozen Hobbits. The Hobbits could help out patroling between the Shire and Bree, while the Dunedain could roam the lands and defend weathertop. That aside we will have to train new hundreds of humans. So they can defend their own citys and towns. They could also help guard weathertop" says Bolli Captain of Gondamon's guard.

Gimli just stare's at the map. After a while he asks "Would that really be sufficent to break the power of that witch? As I see it. We can only hold the territory you mentioned with those troops, while we dwarves fight the real battles and I can tell you that it's not going to work out like this. We need a safe border in the south so that we can advance in the north. We may indeed need hep from these arrogant elves, but we need some of them and the Dunedain to help us in the great battles, that are to come.
So I propose something, that I don't like and I'm sure none of you like it either. We might need to seek help from our enemies..... over my honor as a dwarf I will never ask for help by our archenemy in Khazad dum, out of respect for our allies and because that is also beneath our honor I would never ask the king in Angmar for help, but I would consider to ask an Istari for help. Though he might have conquered the Rohirrim, Saruman was still a friend for a long time. Now that we haven't heard from Gandalf in a while. I would consider asking Saruman of the many colours for assitence in our war."

The hall is silent. Only the cracking of burning wood can be heard.

"Oh Gandalf we wish to hear your advice, but we can't keep going on like this. We need help. Since we can't controll all of Eriador. We should give him everything beneath the south downs and east of the Brandywine. After all as soon as we attack the enemy would no longer posses the strenght to hold Tharbad. If Saruman binds defeats the enemies to the south we could even start trading with him" says Gandohir.

Ofis empties his Beer mug. Afterwards he gets out his pipe and plugs it with pipeweed from the Shire. Then he puts a few silver figures on the Sarn Ford, a few green figures on weathertop and a few grey figures on Tharbad.

"If we get help from Saruman we might be able to win, but we shouln't set our hopes on it" says Ofis.

"Now then to the bigger problem then enemies. How do we keep our armies fed?" asks Gandohir " I mean we could certainly try to keep them fed with out own food, but through such long supply lines the rations might not always come in time. We have to aquire new supply posts and we need the Shire to supply us with food."

"Bringing the Shire to supply should be no problem. As I know the mayor in Michel Delving is mostly concerned with the safety of his people. But he the Hobbits can no longer ignore the threath since some of them had to flee from Bree. They know what lies on the other side of the Brandywine and will most likely help us if we tell them, that we seek to defeat the evil east of them" says Gimli. "My biggest concern are the elves. They might just refuse. I mean they are ready to leave Middleearth. So why should they help us? I mean in contrast to them I know for sure that Aragorn and the Dunedain are going to help us, but the elves?"

Gimli turned to his guard and selcted four of them to step forward.

"You four come with me I will give each of you a message" says Gimli.

The fist guard got several messages for the Hobbits. He will bring them to Michel Delving, Hobbiton, the Smials and the Brand hall.
The hobbits are to know, that an army of dwarves is coming to them. They seek to drive back the forces of evil. For that all brave hobbits, that are willing to join shall come to the army once it reaches the shire. Furthermore the regent of the Ered Luin requests, that they help out with the supplies of the army once they fight beyond the borders of the shire.

The second guard got a message for the elves of Lindon.

I regent of the Ered Luin ask you humbly to set aside the differences between our people and help us and the free people of Middleearth one last time. If you some of your elves are still willing to fight and safeguard the free people then let them go to the Shire. I and my army shall join them soon. We shall try to free as much of Eriador as possibel. If none of your elves are willing to help than at least bring the people in the east my plede for help. As the dwarves and the hobbits might go extinct and there will no longer be any free people.

The third guard got several copies of a message. "Give these to the Dunedain. They will eventually reach Aragorn" says Gimli.

I have received your information over the state of our enemies. After a short counceling with some of my trusted advisors. I have made a plan. My army shall march to the Shire. I will take 800 dwarven warriors with me, all my rangers, all my siege equipment and all my chariots. Though the siege euipment might always be a little bit behind.
I'm ashamed to tell you this, but in our dire need of help I send a message to Saruman of the many colours. If we want to regain some territory in the east and to free the people their we need more strenght and as we don't posses it we have to turn to the enemy, that is the smallest evil. Saruman was as you recall a friend of ours for a long time. I think he will not turn the offer down. While we invade the north I hope he invades the south. I mean we all know Saruman seeks power. As soon as my army conquers Bree we will have practicly split the enemy in two and Saruman will surely not let such a opportunity to expand go to waste.

If you want to defend the Shire, if you want to help the people in Bree, if you want to regain Annuminas then come to the Shire. There we shall discuss things further and I shall show you there I seek to strike with my dwarves. I hope you will give me your Advice.

To the fourth guard Gimli gives a message for Saruman and several gifts. A magnificent heavy dwarven armor, shield and axe. "Take a ship from Kheledul and sail down the Lune. The sail the Isen up to Isenguard. Take a few dwarven warriors with you as escort" says Gimli

do you still remember the time then we sought your counsel in times of need? Now the time has come again, but I Gimli regent of Ered Luin do not seek counsel. I offer you an opportunity to expand your realm. I shall strike soon with my army. We will free Bree and weathertop. You yourself see that the Overlord's territory in Eriador would be split. She wouldn't be able to easily send reinforcments south. I think it would make sense if we split the territory at the Baranduin, the territory east of it and south of the old forest and south downs would be yours. It should be easy for you to take controll of these territories. We, the free people shall bring the fight to Fornost. So you don't have to worry to much about enemy reinforcements. In addition to that I give you this armor, axe and shield. If you allow us the free people to exist freely in the north, we shall support you with high quality weapons and armors such as this one.

If you hear about Gandalf or Radagast feel free to guide them to us. They shall live here in exile. While you most magnificent of all wizards expand your dominion over the rest of Middleearth.

Now then go. These messages have to reach their destination in time. Take these rings with my seal and you shall get fresh goats.
"To be honest my advisors it's disgusting, that I have to pay Saruman so much respect in the message and you may think less of me for doing so. But understand Saruman does posses an army with wich I don't want to mess myself" says Gimli "Now then ready the troops. Send messengers to all our hold here in the north. Tell them to muster my army. I shall march from Thorins Hall down over Noglond, Gondamon and Kheledul. All troops should be ready to join my force. The supplies should be taken care of, but be ready to send more once we reach Bree. We need stonemasons, pioners and lumberers in our conquest."

Gandohir steps forth "My regent the carts with supplies are ready. All the army needs has been prepared. My only question is whom from us do you need at your side?"

Gimli starts to put his heavy armor on and says "If everything goes well, you shall establish outpost along the supply lines and transform Bree. I need you to fortify it and secure it. Ofis you came with me. Captains you have to train new dwarven warriors. Arm them and make them ready to march. I know it will take you at least one or two months, but I will need more warriors for a complete conquest."

"The army will be ready to march by dawn. It will however take us a few days to get to the shire, even if we leave the heavy equipment a little bit behind. All 500 dwarven warriors stand ready. In Noglond 50 warriors and a hundred rangers should join the force. Once we reach Gondamon, which should be the case after a days march, another 200 rangers and a hundred warriors should join us. The troops from Kheledul should join us one or two days later. Their 150 dwarven warrios should join us near the border to the shire. If we time everything right we should enter the shire in maybe 4 or 5 days" says Ofis.

Gimli now fully armed and prepared to battle says "Sound the horns of the Ered Luin. We march now."

Under heavy applause from dwarves of all professions and social standings. The army leaves the great hall of Ered Luin 500 dwarves in heavy armor march down the dwarven road. Behind them come dozens of chariots ,the heavy siege equipment and long line of supply carts.

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The Knights of Azorea
Posts: 508
Founded: Jun 07, 2016
Corrupt Dictatorship

Postby The Knights of Azorea » Thu Mar 04, 2021 3:14 pm

Smaug, The Golden

Thrain's Hall

The vast eaves of Erebor - the galleries of carven stone - had been warped and made strange over the centuries. Sat at rest amidst his hoard like a great recumbent cat, Smaug's fire had shifted the place. Great charred lines and carved talon-sweeps covered the gateways through which he had come in wrath at the first, and the ashes of dwarves flowed in the air. Mixing with the dust of gold they formed macabre rivulets across the gleaming masonry. As his servants drew deeper - descending into hollow and echoing halls, the shape of the stone began to shift. The clean sharpness of dwarf-work had been melted away, until the filigree bubbled and the stone flowed like water. Where the dragon's fire had struck the walls and buttresses the floor was covered in the slag of once-molten stone.

Drawing deeper still, the heat grew ever harsher. In the ante-room of Smaug's hall the metal-work glowed red. The golden harps mounted on the walls dripped in his rage, and the strings of drawn metal buzzed and rang as the wyrm shifted. The stone had been smoothed out by his slithering, and the press of his fiery belly as he went had left it with a glaze of molten metal. If the servant kept his footing upon the smooth black stone he descended, then, down what had once been stairs. Smaug kept no guard within his hall - he had long melted the secret entrance to his domain into clean rock and would permit no thieving eyes upon his gold. He often lay sleeping, even in his rage. Should the servant make way to pilfer from his master, though, he would quickly find why the dragon felt no need of guard. So close to his furnaces the metal was scalding. The scream of a man with his hand buried in molten metal was as birdsong to wake the foremost calamity.

As he moved within his hoard it flowed like water - half-liquid - around his scales, ringing and clattering against the stone. A sea of flowing gold, set with white-hot gemstones, it roiled in molten waves. Emeralds, rubies and pale opals gleamed about him, their glimmer matched only by the baleful light of his cat-like eyes. He snapped up the interloper as a breakfast morsel, and let out a boiling laugh. Another servant came - a man of Dorwinion who knew better than his forebear. He told news out of the east - of wizards and some great host behind them. Cringing beneath the intensity of Smaug's sudden interest, the man fell to bowing, lest his mind be stolen away as Turambar's had.

"A pack of conjurers, seeking to carve out some cranny to hide in in the west, no doubt - if not thieves."

His great throat rumbled in rage at the thought.

"The Istari over-step. The foremost calamity suffers no encroachment from illusionists and easterlings."

His great talons tapped against the half-liquid stone.

"Perhaps they come to spite the slaves of him that would call himself lord and master of all. The fools would not dare try my desolation - certainly not without great cause. They bring some upset west with them. Where they point their host must be known."

The dragon barked an order, and a chain of shouts sent word out east along the Celduin. Emissaries, richly caparisoned men upon horseback would bear Smaug's word to these blue wizards, and see what answer they might make.

To the Wizards of the East, speak thus;

"You draw upon the bounds of the Dragon's dominion. Smaug, The Golden, The Foremost Calamity, The Incomparable, The Desolation of Rhovanion, Ruin of Dale, Tyrant of Dorwinion, demands of you your intention - if, perhaps, you intend to bear him tribute, or might hope to win his aid against some foe? For certainly, it cannot be that you, Istari of such reported wisdom, should enter before the Great Immolater with any darker thought in mind."
Last edited by The Knights of Azorea on Thu Mar 04, 2021 3:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Great Confederacy of Commonwealth States
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Posts: 20288
Founded: Feb 20, 2012
Democratic Socialists

Postby Great Confederacy of Commonwealth States » Thu Mar 04, 2021 4:06 pm

Like a flood of red and gold, the waves of flame rolled over nightly Fangorn with ferocity. Like any watery flood might have, it uprooted trees and tore down whole parts of the Earth, so intensely did it burn. Like a dark creature it ate, invisibly devouring trees that had marked these places for generations, if not for millennia. Some of Fangorn had stood there since the Wizards first walked these lands, and would have stood there for two thousand years more, if the all-devouring flame had not jumped on it like a wolf might on an unwary rabbit. The Huorns marked their passing with shrill shrieks, uprooting themselves and running deeper into the forest, only to set other trees alight and collapse within view of the treeline. The mounds of flame shooting skywards left nothing behind but a rain of glowing cinders and ash, and the blackened charcoal husks of what had once been living creatures.

The shrieks of the Huorns was made almost inaudible by the deafening roar of the fire, and the victorious cries of the Orcish labourers that watched it eat away at the forest. As lumbermills increasingly encroached on the forest interior, more and more labourers started disappearing. Fangorn itself seemed to resist their approach, the heaviest obstruction seemingly centred around a single point. Some Orcs even reported seeing some of the last Ents that had stayed behind to defend their home. When the deforestation came to a grinding halt, and no further advancement could be made, the Orcs had taken to lighting large bonfires against the forest edge, starting a forest fire greater than anything Middle Earth had seen before. The fires illuminated the clouds of smoke with an unnatural orange glow that could be seen for miles around; spotters from Lorién would undoubtedly have spotted the glow against the dark night sky.

Saruman watched the fire burn with a toothy grin. So long, the ancient magic of Middle Earth had seemed unconquerable to him; like hurdles that kept him contained, made him feel small and powerless amidst the labours of Gods and Kings, Dark Lords and Angels. He felt somehow liberated; not only because the Will of Sauron no longer exerted itself through the Palantir at Orthanc, but because there was now nothing between the Sea and the Plains of Gorgoroth that could stand up to his will. Watching the flames devour the hated Fangorn filled him with a terrible joy, a feeling of might that he imagined Sauron must have felt when he first beguiled the Numanoreans, and watched as their vain island was sunk into the sea.

Something fluttered in the corner of his eye. There, on his sleeve, a butterfly had landed; One of its wings had been singed around the edge, and it looked ready to collapse. Saruman looked at the creatures with disgust, and moved to brush the creature from his sleeve. He halted, however. His old hand, long fingernails lined with dirt protruding from it like stakes, closed around the butterfly like a cage, with just enough space not to crush the tiny being. Saruman brought it up to his face. Its wings were multi-coloured, shifting with the angle with which it was observed. Even the blackened edges of its wings seemed to shimmer somewhat in the distant light. For a moment, the faceted eyes met Saruman’s gaze, and it sat silent; a light clapping of wings brushing against Saruman’s palm. Then, Saruman opened his hand, and the butterfly took off; as if his wings had never been hurt at all. The blackened ends were invisible against the starless night sky, and even before he faded from view, Saruman failed to spot the burn marks the fire had left.

A sudden bolt of lighting rent the sky in two, illuminating the thick black smoke above Fangorn in an impossibly bright flash. The rolling boom of thunder followed, and soon after, rain began pouring down from the heavens. Many of the assembled Orc labourers sought shelter, only the Uruk soldiers remained at their post, scowling at their weaker Mordor kin.

“My Lord?” one of the Orc foreman asked, unsure what he would have to do next.

“Every tree that burns now does not burn in our furnaces. We need every log to fuel the machines. Your teams will resume work in the morning” Saruman said, with the authority that came natural to him. The Orc did not even consider questioning, and the deflated Orc bands soon marched back to their tents and huts, to rest before the next day’s labour. Saruman, instead, approached the forest, the flames which were consuming it slowly dying under the sudden, torrential downpour. The acrid stench of burning hung heavily in the air, and charcoal crunched under Saruman’s feet. There, burnt almost to nothing, scorched black and bare to the elements, was the Stone of Derndingle; where Saruman knew the Ents had elected to go to war with Isengard. It had withered; like all those who had chosen to defend it to their last, and Middle Earth would never see its like again.

“I will return to Orthanc. Prepare for our departure” Saruman simply said to his Uruk-Hai guard, who obeyed him without question.

The Room of the Palantir was almost recognisable from before the war. What had once been a room of simple, black stone, was now a mess of maps and parchment hanging from the walls, with a system that only the mind of Saruman could decipher. No-one was now allowed to come here; even the faintest peek into his own mind would allow rivals to outsmart him. The information in this room was his, and his alone. Saruman sat hunched in his black throne, stacks of books piled on the armrests. His eyes shot back and forth, to and fro, scanning the maps and documents with speed and rigour.

A map of the River Anduin, an X marking where Isildur had been slain, and where his body had been found. He had been slain with the Ring, Saruman knew, and had been found without it. The last historical record; his eyes shifted to the torn paged of the document describing the event. The One Ring, lost to the Anduin; and lost to the Sea? No, that was impossible. Sauron had suspected it was in someone’s possession. But where? No king had claimed it since, and there were no stories that could be definitively linked with the One Ring. Even Sauron did not know where it was, and his connection had been the strongest. The Nazgûl… Sauron must have ordered them to scour the Anduin on their Fell Beasts. And yet, they did not find it… The Ring remains unlocated.

Another map: the known locations of the Nine, and what areas they had visited over the past 100 years. They had been to Angmar, and had besieged Osgiliath and Minas Tirith; the Ring was not there, at least, although Saruman had never suspected the Ring was in the hands of Denethor, or he would have known. Neither was it in the hands of the Rohirrim; the kingdom of the Horse lords had been burnt down in search of the Ring. Not in Rohan, not in Gondor, not in the Far North…

Saruman angrily threw his cup of wine through the room, splashing against a map of Ithilien. Gone. The One Ring was unfindable. Without the aid of the Nazgûl, whose loyalty was completely unsecured and unpredictable, finding it would be a monumental task. Which might take years, if not decades, if not centuries. If he had to dam the Anduin, uproot the whole riverbed, burn every hamlet and question every peasant for it, he would do it. But it might take generations, and by then… Who knows what creature had carelessly come across it. The thought of someone, somewhere, undeservedly keeping the most powerful artefact in all of Middle Earth… It gnawed at him viciously, and brought his temper to a boil.

To take his mind off things, Saruman started going through the letters that had arrived. Taking a quill and ink in hand, he started on responses, the rage of his obsession still fuelling him. He affixed the seals of the White Hand to these responses, and gave them to his warg riders to deliver.

To Gimli Gloinson, Regent of the Kingdom in the Blue Mountains,

With kind salutations, the White Hand accepts your offer of tribute. In return for your supply of weapons, armour and materials, Isengard shall not encroach on your possessions west of the Misty Mountains. I distinctly remember, Gimli son of Gloin, that I indeed gave council to the Dwarven Lords, to Thorin most of all, whom I advised against his mission to the Lonely Mountain. I hope you will more wisely heed the council which I can give you, and if this is so, much can be achieved in the future. Expect no aggression from me in your future endeavours.

In your council eternally,
Saruman of Many Colours,
Head of the Order of Wizards and the White Council

Saruman looked at the biggest map; one of the whole of western Middle Earth, from the Black Gate to the Grey Havens. This pact of non-aggression was easy for him to make; there was as of yet no way to safely move his field armies in Rohan and Fangorn through the gap of Rohan, not without fatally exposing Isengard to attack. And for little gain, too; of all the places of Middle Earth, the land of the Hobbits was least worthy of his attention; only to be conquered as an afterthought, when the rest of the world had fallen in his grip. His attention now lay with the last Elven ring of power of which he knew the location; the Ring of Adamant was held by Lady Galadriel; and Lorién, though strong, was within his grasp. Before anything, the White Ring needed to be his. He would retrieve it from her cold dead hands, if necessary.

The second letter, to Thuringwethil, he considered more carefully. She was, to his knowledge, one of the last remaining Maiar to inhabit Middle Earth, whose location was accounted for. Beside himself, chiefest of the Istari, there was Durin’s Bane and the Two Blue Wizards, who had suddenly entered the theatre mere months before. Their arrival had been shrouded from him until the disappearance of Sauron, whom had clouded their presence from him. Sauron, Gandalf, and Radagast were now the three Maiar unaccounted for. Galadriel, although no Maiar, was the only being of similar level. And perhaps the she-spider Shelob, on whose neutrality and isolation Saruman was hoping more and more.

To Thuringwethil, Overlord of Eriador

You are right to say that the servants of Sauron form the greatest threat to us both, who were beyond his ability of total enthrallment. Our business is not with one another, and I agree that we leave the affairs of our domains to one another. It is my hope that the servants of Sauron will turn on one another, a possibility that would be to both our advancement.

It would be wise to meet at Tharbad, though I trust none of my servants to fully treat in my name. It would be an honour for me to personally meet the great Thuringwethil; I think we could converse on a level that is beyond our emissaries and envoys.

In the name of Aulë,
Chiefest of the Istari

Saruman wondered whether to warn the Overlord of the approaching Dwarven attack, but decided against it. There was no reason to warn her, as she was competent enough to realise her own borders. And if not, then her weakening by a successful Dwarven attack would not be to his detriment; the Dwarven armies would never be strong enough to break the Gap of Rohan. Thuringwethil remained the only credible threat to his power west of the Misty Mountains, and Saruman was determined not to allow her to bother him in that reality. Priority was to ascend in power beyond the remaining Maiar, and there was only one way to achieve that.

Yes, hope. There was still hope. The One Ring remained hidden, but as long as it remained hidden to all, that was no obstacle. The Ring of Adamant was within his grasp, and soon he would possess it, or his armies would be destroyed trying. Hope remained… Hope…


Saruman wandered around his study for the rest of the day, contemplating hope.
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Arlye Austros
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Inoffensive Centrist Democracy

Postby Arlye Austros » Sun Mar 07, 2021 5:34 pm

Southern Boughs of the Mirkwood.
East of Amon Lanc.

The Shadow that her Ladyship casted upon the ground moved as a cloud borne from Mordor itself. And she was somewhat just that. Shelob, the Warden of Cirith Úngol was far from her old nesting grounds. But she doesn’t care. She moves her legs, spreading them between tree and tree, which bend under her massive weight. Perhaps more interestingly, she makes no sound but the crack of the decrepit trees.

Her Brood has occupied the area limiting the Mirkwood and the plains of Rhovanion, the band of woods that progress from branches drawing lines of shadows on the grass to the absolute darkness that dominates to the north, where the sun is entirely foreign as the Elves themselves.

<<And yet, this used to be their realm, long ago. Now the Elf King is dead, and his fortress is but a bastion of His Enemies.>>

She stopped, suspending her body on between the branches. A stream, most likely poisonous, ran in front of her, and the dried roots of trees seemed to bend away from it, as if they would burn at the touch of the fluid. It was on bald rocks and pebbles, making a whispering that altered the environment only slightly. Beyond, the silken fallings from the branches marked the others. The Old Brood. Her children denounced her, rejected her authority. Shelob had wandered into those woods, unscathed by the Spiders of the Forest, but they wouldn’t follow command, and would kill any other spider that came into those grounds. A reckless strife.

<<Make ready this area. I want this water to be unenterable. >>

Her voice commanded the spiders below, which began tearing down the terrain. Those threes that were a nuance and could become bridges to cross the stream were tore down, reduced to burrows of branches and decaying wood. The sturdiest of the trees were allowed to subsist, to be used as vantage points. Below the dead bed that formed on the wood diggers began making the real nests, and burrows were carved beneath the forest soil, their walls covered with silk to hold the dirt in place.

But her Ladyship didn’t see these works. She descended to the Forest floor and strode over the stream into the territory of the Elder Brood, her legs making quick work through the cob that attempted to keep her out. Not doubt those watching those marches would already know of her presence. But she pressed on into the darker reaches of the wood, feeling ever more comfortable away from the gaze of AÞâraigas, the name she remembered for that Lady above.

She reached a dale in which lanes of web intersected. She knew she was observed, and so she made her entrance. The massive black bulk stopped on top of the largest node of webs, like a star of silk in the middle of the darkness, and then the darkness shone. For Shelob now appeared to the spiders that tapped into the webs as a Lady, black hair and black robes, but somewhat shining, a dim, decaying light that nonetheless glimmered into the minds of the Spiders of the Forest, somewhat more awaken than her newest Brood.

<<For years you have thrived here, my darlings. You have feasted on weary travelers and unconcerned woodsmen. Were they not tasty? Were they not nurturing? And when those blessings didn’t come, didn’t you use the power I passed on to you so that you could catch all sorts of creatures? Am I not, in the beginning and in the End, your mother?>>
Her voice wasn’t to be heard by mortal ears, but only by the hairs that touched the webs. Her voice was heard far into the Mirkwood, but only by the earless creatures that she called <<darlings>>.

<<Now that your mother comes, you reject her! You have grown too proud. And proud you ought to be, for you are My Children. You are cunning and feared. But how folly have you been! You lurk here in the darkness. You do as if the World didn’t change. As if no Fire stirs in the Mountain. As if the Dark Lord didn’t let loose his scour on the world. Your prey grows thin, and you just wait. I desire that you come back to my fold. I wish that you would love me once more. But hence, you chose not to. My children will fight each other, I fear. And I can’t stop it. For now.>>
Silence. Enduring silence and darkness. Shelob turned, her fat body moving between trees and then climbing to move faster between treetops. She returned to the Wermout Stream and crossed into her Brood’s grounds. The nests were ready, and the spiders began tending to their webs and preying for food.

But Shelob thought about her astray children, and of the Fire that stirred at the Mountain. She dispatched a message through the webs and to be repeated and echoed beyond the Mirkwood. Soon the Brownland Spiders would be sending their fastest dust-runners to the river men once called “Running”, and follow it north and gaze if the Drake was asleep at all.
Arlye Austros, the New South. In the Nibaru Expense. -Future Tech-
Patagonia and its regional neighbours are dominated by the Frankish Kingdom of Argentina and use Modern tech for their affairs. -Modern/Post Modern Tech-

Chilean-Argentine, Pro Union of the Americas (all three). Anti Chavism, anti other stuff. Conservative, but not in extremis (hope so).
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Tracian Empire
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Founded: Mar 01, 2014
Inoffensive Centrist Democracy

Postby Tracian Empire » Mon Mar 08, 2021 9:59 am

Carn Dûm
Kingdom of Angmar

The darkness was breaking, changing. The presence of his dark master, that he had constantly felt ever since he had fallen under the influence of the rings, even after his temporary defeat at the hands of Elf and Men all that time ago, was now gone. The influence of Sauron was gone, and even if he was still bound to his master and to the One Ring, the Witch-king of Angmar felt as if a huge part of him had disappeared, and as if for the first time in thousands of years, he could think freely. But to be bereft of his master was terrifying, and to think that Sauron's great work would be put in danger when they were so close to permanent victory... such a fate was unthinkable. No matter what fortune would dictate, it was obvious that his master would return, sooner or later. And as the Black Captain, it was his duty to protect the realms of the Lidless Eye. With Sauron gone, he was in command - and he had to make sure that the other servants of Sauron knew it, as difficult as it would be. He was a King, the Lord of the Ringwraiths, the Captain of Despair - but there were many more powerful than him, especially those accursed Maiar who were still roaming across Middle Earth. But none shall betray the Shadow. He would make sure of it.

The Witch-king was standing in his throne room, his armored ethereal hands holding a parchment, the red waxen seal of Thuringwethil fallen on the ground beneath him. The vampire's delegation had not been allowed to enter the tower, with only their leader, allowed to take even one step inside of it. Guards were posted next to the gates into the throne hall, orcs from Gundabad and humans from Rhudaur, much like Rolt himself. The armored figure of the Wraith-lord was covered with a black robe, and his spiked helmet was placed on top of his invisible head. His aura of sheer terror was subdued, perhaps intentionally, perhaps not, and his servants were also wearing hooded robes, hiding their identities, as wraiths, or as necromancers. One of them seemed to stand out, an armored wraith, wearing a crimson robe.

"Welcome to Carn Dûm, Rolt, son of Volt of Rhudaur.", the Witch-lord's cold voice was heard, as the parchment turned into dust. "The men of Rhudaur who are loyal to the shadow will always be welcome in the realm of Angmar." The ringwraith motioned towards him, and one of the wraiths brought a small parchment, sealed with the One Eye, and gave it to Rolt. "Take this to thy master, and tell her that loyal servants of the Dark Lord shall always receive help. Now go."

To Thuringwethil, Overlord of Eriador,

Swift action shall most certainly be taken no matter of the direction in which the winds of fortune will be blowing. If thou are a loyal servant to the Dark Lord, then friendship shall be between Angmar and thee, for His lieutenants shall continue to obey His will.

It would be a great honor for someone like me to meet with one of the Maiar, but a mere wraith such as myself shall not be worthy of being in thy domain. It would as such be much better if I would meet thee on the plains west of what was once the Norbury of the Kings. But if thou does not want to leave the towers of the Deadmen's Dike, then I shall send one of my greatest lieutenants to meet with thou, for my duty to my master calls for me to fly to Minas Morgul.

Witch-king of Angmar, King of Minas Morgul, Lord of the Nazgûl , Black Captain of the Dark Lord

Silence fell over the hall after the envoy left, with the chief of the wraiths seemingly deep in thought, until another robed and hooded figure entered it, bringing with it the unmistakable aura of another Ringwraith. "Have you called for me, my king?", the Nazgûl uttered. "We can not keep waiting for orders from Barad-dur, Morgomir. We shall take action by ourselves. Thou shall fly with me with me towards the southeast. I shall ride for Minas Morgul, while thou shall stop at all our lieutenants and captains along the Anduin, through Anorien before it and to Ithilien, and check their loyalty. Make sure that they know that even if Barad-dur remains hidden, I am the Black Captain, and they shall obey me. Make sure that they always know fear. "

The Witch-king then turned around, his unseen eyes looking at the red clad wraith. "And thou, Mordirith, thou shall remain as my Steward here in Angmar. Rally thy forces, and put Agandaûr in charge of them. Make sure that Angmar is ready to respond to any hostilities." The wraith simply bowed in silence.

Not too long after, two fellbeasts flied away from Carn Dûm.
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Hello there! I am Tracian Empire! You can call me Tracian, Thrace, Thracian, Thracr, Thracc or whatever you want. Really.

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Father Knows Best State

Postby Elerian » Mon Mar 08, 2021 1:32 pm

The Mouth, Minas Tirith

He might have seen himself as if from the outside, as a man lost in some heady dream, his deep, darkling eyes fever bright, a spark of very old fire in his expression fit to make the lesser of his kind both excited and frightened at the same time.

"Do you ever regret your choice, Mouth?" a voice had often asked. This voice wasn’t refined, but rough, yet not unkind. In his dreams, the Mouth thought that he should know who this person was.

"Of course not, for I have the knowledge I crave, and my power." In his dreams, people sometimes spoke of the Mouth. It had been a long time since he had paid attention to these dreams.

"I don't understand," a sophisticated voice had asked, the owner of the voice lost in the shadows of the dream.

"I have lived as a man facing the twilight of his kindred. The night has fallen and the night doesn't belong to the Vaiar anymore, but to Morgoth. The hours will get much darker before the sun rises again. And when the sun rises, it will herald the Age of Men. When Zigûr came to me and named me his Mouth, I knew that I could choose between peace and struggle. I could simply be a son of a father and a mother, someone of no consequence. Or I could choose Him and leave a lasting mark into this world, even if it was in death. Zigûr was not fair when I first saw him, but a dirty and emaciated fugitive. Yet I was devoted to him for offering me this name and a chance to be more. And so I have loved him more than I have ever loved my parents, the Valar or my life."

So spoke the Mouth, also known as Mordu, the Black Darkness.

“What is the point you wish to make?” a voice might ask every once in a while.

“We all chose to serve our master or mistress because we recognized in them something within ourselves. A piece of Morgoth made manifest. But we who are wiser, know not to make his mistakes.”

Dreams were often confusing and disappeared in the light of the morning. And Mordu had better things to occupy his mind than with half remembered, senseless dreams.

Now Mordu was in the world of the awake and he had work to do. There was a letter on his desk from King Sudhos son of Safas. Mordu hadn’t read it yet, but he knew that it was bound to concern the situation that had arisen with the ever evolving conflict in Rhovanion. The new Kingdom of Rhovanion had been a scheme to resettle some of Zigûr’s Easterling and Haradrim vassals. With no direction coming from Barad dur, Mordu didn’t want to have any part of the conflict, but the price he must pay for his place of power, fell Minas Tirith, was that he had to mediate in this kind of trouble.

But maybe this could wait for a week or two. There were more pressing matters. Still no word from Barad dur, despite the many attempts to breach the grey shroud. It was growing increasingly worrisome. Ill tidings from all sides and traitors abound.

In his dreams, Mordu would more often than not see a ring without a stone and he dreamed of the fire upon a tall mountain. If only he could attain the ring, then he could attain all his dreams.

His dreams are great indeed, but there isn’t one so great among us all that they aren’t a servant to something.

Lady Galadriel, Lothlórien

It was told in much lore and many songs that Lothlórien was the most beautiful of the lands in Middle Earth now that the first bloom had begun, leaving behind the great elven kingdoms of old and the new, lesser kingdoms that had risen upon the chaotic world with it. Lórien truly was a place of magic and beauty, reigned over by one who had seen the Two Trees in bloom. Laurelindórenan the land had once been called the Valley of Singing Gold. Now it was Lothlórien, the Dream Flower, or simply Lórien, the Golden Wood. Where once had been bustling life, there were now only dreams of past glory, and of the West.

Lady Galadriel thought of Laurelindórenan as she stood on her Mallorn’s platform, gazing down upon lilies that the night breeze made dance and shiver. She felt caught between what had been and what could never be and for the first time in what felt akin to forever she felt angry with herself.

"I have always been a dreamer of impossible dreams," she said. "But when did I begin to walk my days asleep and cease to live?"

"I don't understand, my love. Your actions have proven once and for all that the ages past haven't diminished you," Celeborn said, stepping away from the gentle, shimmering shadows of their tree's branches.

"Yet here I am and sitting idle while all of Middle Earth burns. Our kind doesn't grow old, but our time is fast approaching" she argued. “Lothlórien will soon fade, only to be replaced by malice and corruption.” The pale lilies were nodding to her, calling her to join their dance.

She had been in an understandably strange mood lately. Partially it was because of the her kindred’s fight against the will of Sauron and his minions, certainly, because of the way a blade sang as it cut the air and the air cried in protest, because of the fire, both the white flames that burned so clean they barely left a wisp of ashes behind and the dirty, red licks of fire's tongue that blackened everything with soot. It was because of the orcs and the spiders skittering on their bone pale webs, spilled blood and a terrible presence striking against their will like a storm.

"I will go for a walk in my garden, will you join me?" Galadriel asked, extending her arm, and Celeborn took her hand into his own.

She lay herself down on the bed of grass and lilies with Celeborn, and soon she wouldn't think of anything but him, but now she afforded the world and the fates of her people one more thought. It was the promise she had whispered to herself when she had walked across the deathly Helcaraxë where the cold sunk to the bones and many of her people fell down to never rise again. It was what she had told herself every time yet another kingdom had fallen to Morgoth or Sauron's dread armies, what she had claimed in defiance when she had to decide whether to remain in Middle Earth or return to Aman. The eldar would have to fade, but it didn't have to happen today, it didn't have to happen tomorrow.

It would never be over before it's over, but what should be shall be.

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Great Confederacy of Commonwealth States
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Democratic Socialists

Postby Great Confederacy of Commonwealth States » Mon Mar 08, 2021 2:44 pm

From atop Orthanc, Saruman of Many Colours watched the ceaseless columns of Uruk-Hai depart from the Wizard’s Vale, from whence they would march past Fangorn across the Wold, keeping close to the forest. Having reached the River Limlight they would then cross east and north-east to the Anduin, which would take the army north to Lothlorien.

Simple instructions, but Saruman knew those lines on a map did not convey the full meaning of the campaign. Even now, he could see columns of smoke and dust rise above the edges of the Vale; closing his eyes, cradling the Palantir in his arms, he could truly see:

Columns of Uruk-Hai soldiers in their black armour bound with dark leather straps; rough blocks of Orcs moving northwards, trampling the ground they crossed. Captains shouting orders, accompanied by dread trumpeters carrying horns of iron and steel, relaying the orders of their commanders with a wailing, hollow sound, that was akin to the Earth itself lamenting their passing.

The army, three divisions, consisting of fourteen full legions, a total of 35.000 Uruk-Hai, was made up of more than just foot soldiers. Warg scouts rode ahead of the columns, scouting for resistance and easy prey. The Wold had been relatively untouched by the War thus far, and was now the home of many Rohirric households which had escaped the burning of the Westfold and the Emnet. Those who could fled, but many were unable to; having fled to the edges of their World only to be overtaken by the Wolves of Isengard and their riders. Villages were put to the torch, and provisions acquired: those refugees who could run no further were put in cages, so that the army could eat fresh meat on the eve of the battles to come. Those strong enough to work were traded with the slave mongers, who ensured that the farms of Isengard were tended and the armies did not starve. The extermination of Rohan ensured that the captured food reserves could go to the army, but Saruman was preparing for a long campaign.

Behind the army, drawn by ox-carts, came the other supplies. Long pikes that only hindered the march, food and drink, siege engines… A dry smile drew across Saruman’s face as he saw an enormous covered cart being drawn across the stamped earthen roads created by the advancing legions, containing his new secret weapon. Most of the supplies were carried by barges up the Anduin, up the River Limlight, where they would intersect with the columns. From that point, supplied could be covered by boat, meaning the three divisions could cover the last leg of their march in great speed, and hopefully catch the Elvish kingdom unguarded. Last before drawing himself away from the Palantir, Saruman saw the banners snap in the wind: a white hand on a black background, leading his great host northwards across the Wold.

The Palantir could not pierce the shroud that Galadriel had lain over Lórien, but he did not need to. Before Sauron’s return he had visited the Lady of Lothlorien many times, and they had shared many wisdoms and insights. Always, Galadriel had been sceptical of the theory that the One Ring had been lost to the Sea, and the more Saruman pondered, the more he had to agree with her. Of course, Sauron would have drained the sea if it had meant returning his Precious One, but his strategy made no sense if that were his plan. What made more sense was… was…

The thought escaped Saruman’s mind, as it had done so many times over the past few days. His own notes, perfectly understandable mere weeks before, were now illegible to him. At one point, he had breathed strategy, and nothing but strategy. He had predicted the attacks of the Rohirrim time and time again, knew where to strike, where they would flee, where he would strike next. He had outmanoeuvred Rohan before the first bolts had been loosed from their crossbows. Now, however, he found his mind trailing. The wind blowing down from the Misty Mountains caressed his face; he could smell the petrichor of oncoming rain. He felt the chill, and then the sun again, falling on his face.

Saruman grumbled and cursed, and descended back into the dark belly of Black Orthanc, cradling the Palantir again. Distractions, they were, caused by the confusion of Sauron’s sudden disappearance, addling his mind. Perhaps some device of Galadriel he was unfamiliar with. Galadriel… He thought again of the conversations they had had once. Among the Children of Ilúvatar, he counted her among the wisest, once wondering if divinity was something that could be earned… Something that had to be gained… Something that could be lost and received.

Again Saruman snarled, pouring his attentions back into the maps laid before him, with red markings and arrows covering their surface. Lothlorien would burn, just as Edoras had. He could see it in his mind’s eye, the ancient trees going up in smoke, the White Ring having been conquered, the Elves slaughtered to the last. Galadriel and her husband, both slain or captured, left to rot and see their own creation turn to ash. The last Elven bastion east of the Misty Mountains destroyed, torn from the eyes of posterity, so that…

So that…

No matter how hard Saruman poured his mind into the maps, his machinations gave him no respite from his own churning mind, always thinking a hundred steps ahead. He would conquer the Ring of Adamant. That would give him the power to defeat his enemies and locate the One Ring. He would use that to lay low his adversaries, unite the warring tribes of Mordor, and find out by what dread magic Sauron had been separated from the world. And then…

And then…

It was that final thread that drove Saruman to madness. What was it? There was a reason for it all, there had to be. This was his purpose, after all. He could feel it. At least, he had once felt it. He dared not ponder too far, or he might discover that his feelings had somehow lapsed. Angrily, Saruman used his fell voice and called for his commander to join him.

“Uglúk!” he yelled, waiting for the quivering Uruk to join him in his chambers. While a brave soldier, he had seen what Saruman had done to Lúrtz after he had failed to locate the Ring and deliver him Gandalf; a prize that Saruman coveted almost more than the One Ring or any of the other Rings.

“Yes, my Lord?” the Uruk asked, bowing as low as his body would allow.

“You will lead my armies to the edges of Lórien. I have business with an old acquaintance in the North… Yet, I will meet you at the edge of the Elvenhome, and command our assault personally. Is that understood?”

The commander simply nodded and bowed again. Saruman, after watching Uglúk leave, donned a grey cloak and hat, and traded his steel black staff for a more mundane, wooden one. His face he hid in a thick woollen scarf, and though he wore his brightly coloured cloak underneath, he made sure none of it was visible. He was going abroad, beyond the borders of his realm, and his invisibility was worth more to him than the protection that two legions could provide.
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Remnants of Exilvania
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Founded: Mar 29, 2015
Iron Fist Consumerists

Postby Remnants of Exilvania » Fri Mar 12, 2021 8:33 am

Fornost Erain
Citadel of Dread

The sound of her steel clad boots echoed through the torch-lit corridors of the citadel as she slowly made her way down, floor after floor. In her iron clutches she held a letter, all crumpled up and her pale face betrayed the turmoil raging within her. It was the letter from the wizard, the Istar, the white traitor that now decided to bear many colours. Her feelings about him were...mixed to say the least. She didn't trust him. He had not served Melkor in the First Age like she and Mairon had, no, he had fought against them and he had been sent here by the Valar to save Middle-Earth from their clutches. Perhaps this was all a trap? Now that he had to fear Sauron no longer, he could be emboldened to strike down all of Melkor's old followers? Afterall, he still ended his letter in the name of Aulë.

She shook her head, her silverblonde hair waving about in the air as she tried to get rid of these doubts.

Impossible. No Vala or Maia serving Manwë and his ilk would possibly stoop as low as Curumo had. He had enslaved, tortured and bred evil just like Mairon and Melkor before him. Clearly he had fallen, right?

When she walked past an iron brazier, the flames within it licking hungrily at the iron bars that kept their fuel contained, she tossed the letter into it, watching it turn black before disappearing in a fierce orange glow. She didn't need this letter any longer now, it gave her headaches. She would just have to ride to Tharbad and meet the Istar in person, gauge his motives a little and depending on what he wanted, give him the feeling that she was aligned with him or at the very least not standing against him. She did not need a host of his to try and test Skorgrim's works on Tharbad too soon.

At the foot of the Citadel of Dread, near the stables where her minions kept a small supply of hardy, northern horses and ponies, Thuringwethil met Amarthiel, the elf maiden clad all in red and hiding her face behind an iron mask. She had been a minion of Mairon and the Witch King many centuries ago before her father Laerdan had reclaimed her for the Free Peoples...and then she, Thuringwethil, had brought her back into the fold of darkness, where she had remained this time.

"Amarthiel, good, your presence is sorely required."

The elf curtsied before asking, her voice sounding hollow and metallic through the mask yet still having that melodic, elvish beauty to it:

"And what would you require me for, Dark Lady?"

As the two of them stood and watched as some man saddled a horse for Thuringwethil, she replied with:

"I will be away for a while. The White Wizard requested a meeting in Tharbad and I can hardly refuse. In the meantime I will leave Fornost and affairs here in the north in your capable hands. Don't disappoint me."

Amarthiel inclined her head a little in acknowledgement, the red fabric of her headdress rustling slightly as she did so. Though at the same time she produced another scroll, holding it out towards Thuringwethil who raised an eyebrow.

"This was brought back to us from fell Angmar to the North. Will I also be in charge of handling this affair or would you prefer I leave the Black Captain waiting?"

Without another word Thuringwethil snatched the scroll right out of the elf's hand, undoing the seal and quickly reading through it all. It didn't take long for her clawed gauntlets to pierce through the scroll before she just tore it apart. She kept herself from wailing her rage through the entire citadel, instead maintaining a relative calm as she hissed:

"Who does this rotten little man, this wraith think he is?!? I was Mairon's second in command long before his putrid race even existed and now he dares to call me out to meet on the fields of Fornost? I am his better, he should be begging me to take command and lead him on the search for Mairon!"

Amarthiel slowly stepped back as her lady seethed and raged, knowing full well not to try and cross a Maia, even weakened as Thuringwethil was. She did however calm down surprisingly quickly, smoothening out her hair before curtly saying:

"Fine. If the Black Captain wishes not to deal with me directly then he will not. I have other matters to attend to in Tharbad. Amarthiel, I am granting you full authority to treat with whoever he sends in his stead."

Again Amarthiel curtsied, deeper than before while lowly mumbling:

"You honour me with your trust, my lady."

Meanwhile the stable boy had brought forward Thuringwethil's horse, a great, black horse of the north, strong and resilient and no doubt from the old Dunedains' herds. Without a second word Thuringwethil swung herself onto the saddle of the horse, digging her heels into its side, causing the proud thing to rise and neigh in pain. Yet Thuringwethil's grip on the bridle was like iron and all its rising and prancing about could not shake her off.

"You are to send me word of your exploits as soon as you can. And remember, I do not tolerate failure!"

With a final neigh the horse sped past Amarthiel and out of the stables, quickly leaving the citadel and the city itself. From above the elf could suddenly hear movement, the flapping of many wings and the skies outside darkened as a small cloud of bats swung itself skyward from the citadel and followed their mistress on her journey south.
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Arlye Austros
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Inoffensive Centrist Democracy

Postby Arlye Austros » Thu Mar 18, 2021 6:11 pm

The East Bight. South-eastern reaches of the Mirkwood.
A town of Northmen.

For years these dales had seen a constant dribbling of men migrating west, as if an ancient calling to the Sea was somehow awakened. The village had formed on the southern edge of the Bight. It enjoyed a position somewhat close to the forest, but distant enough to fend off its threats. The houses aligned by a pathway running east and then turning north, towards the road that finally ventured into the Narrows of the Forest. Many would go through that road, resupply in the village, rest and eat, and then continue on across the path.

But that path was long gone, and no longer did the men try to cross the Mirkwood on that part. Perhaps because the spiders and the madness within the forest made it near-suicide to do so. Perhaps because no longer did men live under the shadow of the Dragon, and those who remained by the Celduin were either content with Smaug or too far south to really have an urge to escape His grasp.
But the village endured. Some people got used to it, and fifteen families lived along the pathway, with about ten more scattered between the nearby hills and streams. They were frontiersmen, used to be careful while venturing into the danger. Accustomed to defend their houses from the dangers of Dol Guldur or the Forest. From time to time an odd elf or an astray dwarf would pass by and pay handsomely for furs, food or just a place to lay down. Sometimes entire bands of men from Rhovanion, fleeing a Terror they dare not speak, would pass by, trying to get to Lothlorien.
And it endured. So did the things that watched. Sometimes a man wold be driven insane and run into the wilds to never be seen again. Sometimes a cry would be heard, followed by the sorrows of a mother who can’t find her babe. Sometimes a hunter would take the wrong path. They grew used to it, and as it endured, the village provided a lifeline to the Spiders, to the Brood of the Forest. A lifeline that would now be severed.

Night. They always strike at night. The Lady herself watched, perched on a tree at some distance. The mass bulk of Shelob gracefully watched as her Brood encroached. The lights of the village did some small harm to her black eyes. But she watched still. Some windows still holding candles.
It wasn’t easy to convince her, but she did as the Lady say. The large, black-haired spider was a new thing in her Brood, appearing only after their arrival to the edges of the forest, and only seemed to procreate under the influence of the Naked Hill. And now two of them moved forth towards the house. It was sitting outside of the village itself, connected to the outward path by a smaller trace. And the trace was already infested. A dog barked, but it was quickly silenced. They were used to hunt Orcs, but these smaller ones, dark-brown and somewhat slender, were happy to have better tastes now. The dog was silenced, and the horse never neighed.

The trigger was ready, and Shelob turned in silence to see the fangs being set. Elongated spiders, somewhat flattened and light-haired, with prominent fangs projecting outwards, were aligned along the northern path distant enough to hide in the darkness, and larger ones moved to the front, their bodies silently placing under bushes near the path, their frontal legs ready to snatch, and they began moving their back legs to dig, always in silence, lowering their height even more.
The trap is set. And the fuse is ready to be lit.

Inside the house there was silence, as the final candle was blow away by a man. For hours there had been some careful joy, music, laughter. Shelob raised her back legs and scrapped each other and the wood. And the fuse was lit.
The two large black bulks were near the windows, but they didn’t seem to reach in for the prize. Instead they did much like the Lady. Their hairs became frittle and cracked, making a dark dust that floated by air exhaled by the fiend. It moved into the window. Then cough.
I can’t… breath.” The voice protested between coughing. The sound travelled well enough for Shelob to hear. “Water! Water! Where is the water!
A voice replied. The woman. “Are you ill? Outside!
A door opened, and a man stumbled outside. Then a child screamed inside the house, then another. And now the woman screamed too. They screamed nonsense. The man looked back.

”Water! The fire! It’s burning me inside!” He fell to the ground and shook. More screams. The woman rushed outside, carrying a bundle in her arms.
Why!!! My baby! WHY!!! She yelled, then threw the bundle away. It still screamed as it landed on a bush.
The house! We have to burn it! The man stood up and pushed the woman as he rushed inside. From her tree Shelob could start to <<see>> what happened inside the house, as a nearly-invisible web was laid on the roof, and it was extending over the grass and wheat to her tree. The woman had followed the man inside, and kept screaming, threatening the children who screamed back. Then the fire. It hurt Her, but it also brought Her joy. For the plan worked.
More screams joined, these from the village.

<<Fire! To Arms! The Dragon’s Come!>> She could see, under the torment of the Moon, the men of the village wielding clubs and knives. Many holding bows. They rode their horses and rushed north towards the house. A horn blasted the night and more men rushed from the other dwellings, to see what happened. Hapless women and children gathered and sought shelter in a clearing near the end of the path.

And the trap was set loose. The first riders to approach the turn and move north towards the house, now smoking and with the first flames coming out of the windows, didn’t see the running spiders, moving towards the village. Some did and screamed to turn back. But there was no use.

Twelve larger spiders rose on their back legs, reaching over the path and grabbing either man or horse and taking them under the bushes to kill them. Those who fell to the ground rolled in terror, ready to fight, and some followed their comrades or mounts into the bushes. From the north more riders came, and these were met by more of these hiding spiders, but these had buried themselves entirely, and ambushed the party from both sides and in-between. Soon the northern path was a carnage of just a few survivors trying to flee, only to find themselves pinned back to the ground and bitten, left to agonize inside out by quick venom.

The running spiders heard the screams of terror of those who sought refuge in the center of the village and rushed straight to them. They passed between building, sometimes fending the odd man with an axe or a bow. Some did fall under the strike of the defenders, but most were overwhelmed by the sheer speed, their oversized fangs piercing leather and skin, tearing through flesh and into the bone. They soon surrounded the villagers, some wielding knives and sticks, all huddled around a well in between the two branches of the road, which forked before the forest.
On the southern side of the village the weavers began extending their web. A death-pale substance covered the trees, and lesser spiders took place in the bushes between those trees and right before them. Soon it became an ominous defense. Shelob descended in near silence, as the last of the riders were killed or dragged away. She then gave another command, and the pale, smaller spiders invaded the house itself, taking away the half-burnt family into the taler grasses. They were asleep, but still breathing. At the same time something similar happened in the village, the running spiders randomly reaching into the huddle of villagers and snatching away those they were able to catch, until one in every six was separated from the group, taken to the back of the houses were they were silenced.

It was hours until the survivors dared to walk out of their refuge in the path. The spiders stopped their attack short after the screams from the house were silenced. But they watched. The women and what remained of the men could still see the shadows crawling over the buildings, or simply standing in their many legs, watching. Then the faint shine of the sun came from the plains of Vidugavia, and the shadows melted, retreating into the shade of the woods. Some relief came to their spirit as the enemy seemed to leave them alone now. Maybe the nightmare was over? Maybe they could now wake up?

Then the silver bath of the sun grew and revealed the devastation. Or the near lack of it. No bodies. Some traces of blood through the dirt were the only pieces of evidence of the battle that took place. One after another the elder men detached from women and children, wielding their pitchforks as they explored, wandering farther away from the well.
The spiders were gone. But at the same time they weren’t. The light shifted, and the men reached with their gaze to the sky. The silken threads were spread above the path, forming a thin layer that spread between the houses and odd trees. It was very thin, and it fell under the first scratch. But within minutes the flies and the insects that woke up found themselves decorating the air around the villagers, trapped and dying.

Then one of the men pointed to the forest, for the light reached it. The light didn’t seem to reflect well on the cog, but it made the substance seem ghastly and imponent at the same time. The forest had become a grey wall, rising many feet over the village. Some trees towering above the line, and serving as the source of the webs, now waving under the morning breeze like a wraith’s robe. And in the firmer, starker parts of that wall they could see black figures, with many legs spread and sometimes moving below the sheets. And they moved around, maybe disturbed by the movements of the things that shared the space. Some brave villager approached the wall, getting as close as his valor allowed him. He walked until the bushes of the field became too thick to go on, made firm by the entanglement the spiders wrought on them. He saw the movement of the spiders just before him, but they didn’t attack, they just watched and raised their legs, barely visible but enough to be a deadly thing not to be watched upon any more. The man then rose his sight and watched at the wall. For there he felt a noise. Up in the air, in between the layers of silk, a woman wiggled and seemed to wake up from the venomous sleep she was tossed into. And one of the spiders seemed to crawl to her and sink the fangs in the huddle of silk and cloth, and the struggle ceased, for a while.

The Lady stood on the webs once more, deep within the Forest, away from any aid her New Brood could provide. It had been hours since the raid.

<<I know you watched. You kept eyes on that village already, feeding off their people when you wished to. Nevertheless, my children, your kin crawled through your gaze, and instilled terror on that people, decimated them and left a monument to us for them to remember this night. You’ve seen it too.>>
Her voice travelled across the webs, into the forest. Unheard, but tapped into.
<<I will go after every village of men, elves and dwarves, against every orc and every creature you crave. I will make sure you starve, that you wither and die until those who remain submit once more. And my faithful children will feed while you do, and multiply, and thrive. Remember this.>>

Edges of the Celduin. Some days later.

Stumbling through the grass the man made his last steps, then collapsed. He could hear the Running. The Celduin was flowing within reach. The man extended his hand and felt the striking cold water. It was a balm to his mind that soon drew him into a frenzy, and he jumped into the water, taking off his clothes and laughing as he bathed.

His mind was still maddened, perhaps would never recover. But the memory of the last night returned. He had to return to his master, and him to his own master, and that to the Master. He had to send the message that She told him. For an entire night and an entire day he slept by her. She made him sleep within silken blankets. But the sleep wasn’t healing at all. How did they got him? He was riding once. Then he was dragged into the forest. Then he was with Her. And for hours she spoke to him, as she could have spoken. He could feel the terror breaking his mind until her voice was loud and clear as the very river he now floated on, looking at the sky. It was loud and clear until it was all he could hear. But he couldn’t flee, not until she released him.
But he wasn’t free. He swam back to the shore and cried, then took his clothes back. He had to take this message to the Wyrm, to speak Her words in His presence. He had to or he would go mad entirely.

I hope you won’t mind that I have unmade your servant’s mind. It is the only way I have, so far, to talk to you. You might be aware of my Children who have occupied the eastern rim of the Forest. It was already a hunting ground of their siblings, and I have now laid firm claim to it. It will be wise of you to avoid these grounds east of the River Running. There are villages near the woods, fools I intend to feed upon in time, but if you desire to excerpt tribute form them in other form than flesh I shall allow your envois through our web. I believe we should, at least, avoid confrontation until anyone can answer what happened in the Tower of the Dark Land.
Thus whispered Shelob, Matriarch of the Broods of Rhovanion, Warden of Cirith Ungol.

A timber camp, South of the Isen.
The Westfold.

He rubbed his back against the brick wall while gnawing through the hard bread, sitting under a fleeting shadow from the sun, alongside other young Rohirrim. They had moments before being kicked back to work. But Snawhelm wished he had a bit more. The bite of the lashes on his back still stung him, weeks after the scourge, and reminded him on his moments of peace that peace no longer belonged into his world.

“It tastes like horse sweat! I would even choose the sweat over this!” Somebody protested, and a man, perhaps as old as his brother was, tossed the bread to the floor and into the sun. An orc passed near the group of workers and noticed the discarded meal.
“Y’ ready w’d it, aren’t you? Then y’ ve no business cooling yourself!” The orc, an adult-sized Uruk, strode his way into the shade and towards the young man. The others, both man and child alike, crawled apart, and left the defiant one to face the orc alone. He was pulled up and into the sun with a single trust, and a pair of kicks followed. “Now go t’ work, y’ worm!” The orc shouted as he waved a crop on the rolling young man. “Off the line y’ go! Get y’self chained and pull th’ mill! That y’ get for being so early!”

Snawhelm watched as the other had no choice, he crawled back up and dragged his feet across a dirt path, aligning behind other workers who were sorted by a big Dunlending, who promptly chained them to a turning mill wheel, used to give more power to the saw that simplified the timber, already powered by the Isen. “And y’ maggots better hurry with y’er chewin’!”
Where was father? He heard he was sent to a nearby construction, as that camp was being expanded. They needed more foundries.
“Had any luck with your hunting, boy?” A man asked him from the sunlight. A Dunlending called Mailcon, who was usually at the party set to fetch him and his father, talked into the shade. He looked imposing but had a better heart than an orc at any rate, and better than most of his kind.
“They wouldn’t let me. I had to join the others at the wagons.” He replied. It was true. They didn’t even let him get his bow that morning, the last before the day they left back home. Or at least that was what Uertur promised. The orc overseers sent him with other boys to pull the wooden carts with coal from across the river, cross the black stuff on iron buckets over it, and then keep pulling through a road, up to the camp, which had forges set on the southern edge. “I wanted to go now.”

But Mailcon nodded. “Gorbolg is back from’s ride. And he’s desperate for flesh. Any flesh. I am sorry…” He looked down and walked away, and as soon as he walked off the spot Snawhelm saw a couple of orcs walking towards the wall.
“The one w’d white hair!” One said to the other. Snawhelm didn’t have a lot of time to react. He thrashed across the dirt, but soon enough the orcs pulled him up on his feet and punched him in the guts. After that he would rather move his knees while focusing on breathing instead of getting away from the orcs’s goal.

And soon they reached the goal. The upper reaches of the camp, the south-eastern corner, were actually built atop a small outcrop of rocks. There had been trees recently separating the main labor area and the line of wooden shelves that were erected there, but the slaves were now clearing off the ridges from the last remnants of wood, allowing Snawhelm to quickly glance at the Isen before being pushed inside the shadow. He could smell the coal burning and hear the vague hammering of smiths.

“We brought th’ prisoner.” One of the orcs carrying Snawhelm announced before dropping him to the floor and kicking him. “He…”
“Stop your guts!” A voice stopped the kicks and Snawhelm could look through the shadow. There was a Wolf of Isengard, fully grown and terrifying, staring at the boy, who promptly knew he was prey. A darker figure stood out before the grey fur of the beast. The orc turned. It was Gorbolg, the Captain of the camp, to whom all overseers replied. He had been placed by a higher power on charge on the time Snawhelm was whipped, and soon came to like the fact this half-slave could bring fresh meat if provided some hours in the woods. It was a large orc, almost as wide as he was tall, and had a set of rings piercing through his left jaw, which were said to be great Men he had slain. Perhaps more unsettling were his eyes. They were as human as Snawhelm had ever seen. “So, boy… I hoped to have some fresh meat on my table on my arrival.”

He was more refined in his speech than most orcs, Snawhelm remembered. It was obvious why he stood out. Perhaps he was half-Man, is such rumours were true and the Power in Isengard was doing such things. “I wasn’t allowed to hunt this morning.” Snawhelm whimpered but didn’t rise from the floor. “I hoped to hunt this afternoon.”
“What about yesterday? You surely got enough game by last night?”
“Not enough, I knew!” He replied, almost in desperation. “I brought some conies, but the Overseer took them.”
“Only rabbit?” Gorbolg’s voice caused the wolf to shake and growl. He made a gesture and a small-looking orc walked forward, shooing the beast outside through cloth serving as a doorway to the back of the shack. “That is under our arrangement. Your Man-friends told me you would get me good flesh and I would go easy on you and your coward father!” The Captain protested, raising his voice while pointing a finger at Snawhelm. “Rabbit doesn’t count as good flesh! Deer does, boar… even Manflesh serves me better than rabbit!”

Snawhelm didn’t like the implication, and he looked down.

Gorbolg wasn’t a friend of resorting to the slaves as source of food, but he had seen the orcs devour any worker who didn’t fulfil his quota. The last one was two nights before. A man who simply stopped working. He said that he used to be on the Prince’s Guard, that he would show more pride in death than in life. Then he was cut down, still alive as they tore out his guts, kicking and punching as he could before fainting and dying. It wasn’t a great sight. But Snawhelm endured it, as he felt he owed it to somebody. Father didn’t.
“I can still hunt!” Snawhelm protested. “But I need to get further away from the camp! The game is scared and won’t come near.”

That seemed to calm the orc for a moment. It seemed that was good enough for the Captain of Isengard. But then he began to chuckle. For a second Snawhelm was confused. And the boy grew now scared as the other few orcs inside, and even Uertur, who had come in a minute earlier, joined in, and the giggle became an all-out laughter.
“You think I am as stupid as the Overseer, boy? I know what you intend. How would I let you go off with a bow and arrow? You know this land, you can live off it. For you it would be easy. Wouldn’t it?”
The boy thought somebody was stupid. Himself, for not considering that slight. “No, My Lord… I didn’t.”

“Ah, Spare me your Man pleasantries! I am A Captain of Isengard!” The orc boasted. “Commander of the Dunnish March!” This comment, Snawhelm, knew, was to insult the Dunnish allies. “I am above your kings and lords. I brought them down. Me! The Orc!” With that the black bulk strode forward and raised a hand at Snawhelm, who looked down and held for the strike. It didn’t come.
“You are not worth of even talking to me.”

His steps paced away, then stopped, and the orc turned.
“Take the boy outside. The agreement is well known, so I want everyone to know why the riders won’t get any meat tonight. Give him twenty. Then send him to the iron mine. I think his father would like to see him.”
Snawhelm looked up. Gorbolg smiled. “Oh, yes. Your father is across the Isen. We are opening a mine and he is working at it. You will pull dirt till your bones melt!”
A hand pulled him up. This was a man. Uertur, it seemed, as Snawhelm recognized the fur and leather armour. “Wait!” Gorbolg stopped the man. “I have an idea.” The orc walked to Snawhelm, until he was a step before him, towering.

“You will hunt tomorrow and make up for your delay.” He made another gesture, and with a grunt, the Snaga orc that had led the Wolf outside vanished, returning with the beast on a leash once more. It was brought just behind the Captain, and Uertur pushed Snawhelm down on his knees. “My mount is also a great sniffer. It will find you, even if you dare escape and hide. And if it does it will not bring you back alive, for sure.” He turned towards a firepit that was brewing some brown substance inside a pot. The orc grabbed an iron that had been warming in it. It displayed a human hand with orcish claws. He had seen it on other workers, who said it was Gorbolg’s mark. Snawhelm tried to break free from Uertur’s hold.

The orc came back with the pot and the iron, each on one hand. The smell was awful, as are things orcs can eat. He laid them before Snawhelm. “You are still getting your lashes and pulling dirt, but tomorrow you hunt. I will just make sure we find you if you try to escape. Extend your arm.”

He didn’t, and Uertur had to force his right arm out, ripping apart his shirt. The orc lifted the bowl and poured the content on his shoulder. The brown porridge ran down to this elbow and splashed into his face. Then the pot fell to the floor stone floor. A blink of an eye later Snawhelm felt the branding. The iron roasted the skin on his arm, cooking the brew into his flesh, and an awful smell was just another excuse for his eyes to tear, as the pain was unbearable. The Warwolf shook, wishing to rip the boy apart.
“Now you can go get your punishment, and tomorrow you get me my lunch.”
Last edited by Arlye Austros on Fri Mar 26, 2021 1:51 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Arlye Austros, the New South. In the Nibaru Expense. -Future Tech-
Patagonia and its regional neighbours are dominated by the Frankish Kingdom of Argentina and use Modern tech for their affairs. -Modern/Post Modern Tech-

Chilean-Argentine, Pro Union of the Americas (all three). Anti Chavism, anti other stuff. Conservative, but not in extremis (hope so).
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Founded: Mar 01, 2021
Left-wing Utopia

Postby Ezmwalia » Tue Mar 23, 2021 12:10 am

Of Faramir, son of Denethor,
Steward of Gondor,
Western White Mountains,

Upon a solitary smooth stone, amidst the sharp crags of the White Mountains, a way away from the camp, sat a figure clad in a hauberk, with long hair and some scars upon his face. He sat hunched, watching the general day-to-day business of the camp from the outside. His armour lay beside him - silver and shining plate, a helm with great wings upon them. The name this man had chosen was 'Tircallon', though it was not always his. He did not know if he would ever reclaim his former name, or if his new name would remain his forever, reflecting his purpose. For 'Tircallon' roughly meant 'to guard a great man'. Certainly, dour as he may have become, Faramir truly was a great man, wise beyond his years, and with a great deal of valour. But even Tircallon was not sure if their quest could ever be completed, if the Gondorian people could ever truly be safe. Tircallon placed his face covering back upon his face, then suited himself back into his armour. 'The Last Guardian of Gondor', many called him. It wasn't inaccurate - Tircallon did not know the fate of the many guards he had served with in Minas Tirith. Likely, those that hadn't done their duties and fought to the last had dishonourably surrendered to the Dark Lord. Tircallon could not imagine a more dishonourable fate to befall sworn Men of Gondor. His armour donned, Tircallon returned to camp.

Faramir, in name the 'Steward of Gondor', however little that meant anymore, gazed at the covered stone in the centre of the tent. A Palantír. The Anor-stone. Faramir knew that his father had spent hours on end probing Sauron's defences through that stone. Or at least, imagining that he was. He would return from his solitude always more bitter than when he went in. It was understandable. However much of a weapon it was against the enemy, it remained tied to his power also. Perhaps some of Denethor's bitterness and hopelessness came from lies and deceptions, or perhaps it did allow him a glimpse of Mordor's defences, and the true hopelessness of the struggle became apparent. Quite simply, Faramir did not know. All he knew was that Gondor fell like so many thin twigs beneath the forces of Sauron, and that Faramir had escaped with so few of his countrymen. Perhaps the fight was hopeless. Perhaps, painful as it was, his father was right.

And yet, the numbers of orcs who probed their positions had lessened over time. Now barely any, mere stragglers and those lost from their cohorts, wandered towards Faramir's camp, being found by his remaining Ithilien Rangers. One good thing about orcs was that, in small numbers, they were too cowardly, too stupid and too weak to cause any problems. The last thread of hope that Faramir held to was that men were made of sturdier stuff. They would have to be, else the men of Gondor were doomed to an eternal servitude of darkness. However, the lack of recent orcish raids puzzled him. It could not have been that darkness had withdrawn again, so soon after Sauron's ascendency. Perhaps the dark rulers simply had not consolidated their power over the surrounding land, or they did not know of the men who slept in camps in the mountains, the last remaining free Gondorians. Whatever it was, somehow, it frightened him more than imminent danger ever had.

Faramir's bodyguard, Tircallon, entered into the tent. He secluded himself from camp on some occasions, and never showed his face to the other Men of Gondor in the camp. Faramir had once asked why, though he remained cryptic in his response, saying that Gondor did not need his face or his name, but his arm, his strength and his willingness to fight.

"Lord Faramir," Tircallon bowed his head slightly, his spear upright, his cloak drawn over his left arm. Faramir acknowledged his presence, before speaking back to him.

"Tircallon, tell me again of my brother."

Though much of his face was covered, Tircallon's eyes betrayed a sense of surprise, but also of sadness, "What more is there to tell, my lord? Your brother gave me two things, telling me to find you, bring them to you, and protect you with my life."

The answer was the same every time. Faramir knew he must cease mourning his brother if he was to lead well, but this time his line of questioning was for a different reason.

"How did he seem, in himself?"

Tircallon paced around slowly, before speaking; "He was worried, perhaps flustered. More than that, though. He had in his eyes a certain terror. As if he had stared death in the face and lived, but had known that it yet stalked him."

Faramir nodded slowly, his suspicions seeming to be proved correct. He moved slowly towards the covered stone in the centre of the tent, gesturing towards it; "Did my brother say anything about this?"

Tircallon was confused for a moment, but seemed to understand what Faramir was meaning, "Not with his words, no. But the way he gave it to me, it was almost as if casting off a red hot piece of metal from the hand."

Faramir nodded again, "So Boromir had used the Anor-stone. And he did not trust himself with it. And yet..." Faramir paused. He was afraid to even think of using the Palantír beneath the sheet. But it was here, and the orcs were not harrying their positions as regularly. Tircallon caught onto Faramir's thoughts.

"A Palantír could be dangerous. Especially if it is yet linked to the mind of Sauron. It would reveal us to the enemy."

Faramir sighed, letting Tircallon know that he felt precisely the same way, "And yet, we must know what our enemies are doing."

Tircallon nodded. They would take precautions.

Under the cover of night, Tircallon and Faramir left the confines of the camp, heading out into dense, dark forest. The forest sounds were alive and well above the sound of two sets of footsteps. Tircallon held the Palantír inside his cloak, covering it. There was no way he could have touched it, between the cloak and his gloved hands. Faramir knew little about the use of a Palantír, but he did know that his father had used it to look east by standing to the west of it. Beyond that, its secrets remained hidden. Faramir hoped to unlock some of them, if he could. He also knew that the Palantíri did not 'lie', in any instance. Perhaps the truth would be more terrifying yet than a lie. Faramir did not know.

The duo reached a clearing, with a small amount of moonlight shining down into it. Faramir motioned to Tircallon that this is where they would stop. Tircallon placed the Palantír onto the ground, before uncovering it with his cloak. The black sphere stared back at them, and Faramir spoke once more to Tircallon.

"I would gladly set my life aside for the survival of the Gondorian people. If the enemy sees back towards me, or if I lose control, or something like that, you must keep the settlement safe."

Tircallon nodded. With that, Faramir descended to his knees, to the west of the Palantír, and ungloved his right hand, looking into the black orb.

The shadows of the orb swirled and pulsed. Then, a small orange light, dispersed by fog and far away. Faramir could tell, if it were closer and it were not so foggy, it might well be piercing, but it stood as an unsettling glow amidst the swirling blackness of the orb. But as the vision became clearer, Faramir could tell that the fog itself was no illusion. Mordor, the Tower of Barad-dûr, surrounded by fog. Unsettling as it was, there was no fear. It was as if the one to whom the glow belonged was so far away from Middle Earth as to no longer affect it.

Faramir took his hand off of the orb. Tircallon awaited his recollection.

"It would appear that our enemy is currently inattentive."

Early in the morning, Faramir gathered within his tent his leading lieutenants from the Ithilien Rangers, as well as Tircallon. The rangers up until this point had preoccupied themselves with foraging and hunting to feed the group of Gondorians, many of whom were tradesmen, city folk, rather than those familiar with the wilds as the Rangers were. Faramir had been unwilling to engage in military activity, much to the chagrin of his lieutenants, who felt underutilised, caring for 600 Gondorians. They wished to take back the land of Gondor, including of course their homeland of Ithilien, so very far away. But now, Faramir had called them for a meeting. Perhaps their fortunes, their actions into the future, would be changing.

"Lieutenants," he spoke to them, finally entering into the tent with a parchment. Placing it onto the table in the centre, where the Palantír formerly lay, "For nearly a year now, we have run scared from the enemy, and we have retreated further and further west. But the enemy had grown complacent, and did not crush us fully," Faramir pinned the map on four corners with weights, "That was their mistake. For now we know that we are obscured from the enemy, by some miracle, or some sheer fortune."

There was some murmuring among the lieutenants, before Faramir continued.

"We simply do not have the men to attack the forces of darkness head-on. We number one-hundred rangers. But there are two things we can do from hereon-in," he placed small battle markers onto the map in no particular organisation, "First - we have 600 Gondorians in our number. Those who are skilled in metalworking can become smiths. If there are some skilled in riding, then they shall become light horsemen. Teach the rest of them basic infantry and archery skills. And thus, we have a small army."

"There is no way we can take on the dark forces, even if we had seven hundred men, and we won't even have that, will we?" One lieutenant spoke up. Faramir gently placed the battle markers into specific positions.

"That leads to my second point. You are right, of course, we still could not attack head on. But if we harry their supply lines, they cannot maintain their grip over the west. We liberate more Gondorians as we move eastwards, adding yet more numbers to our armies - even going north into Rohan if we have to," Faramir stopped. He had placed troop markers into every well-defended position on the map, every forest and every mountaintop, "Secrecy, stealth, they will be our only allies in this fight. For since the all-seeing eye is obscured, he cannot watch our movements and order his armies to attack. We can regain our strength, liberate those of us who are subjugated, oppose those who would oppose us and reforge the realm of Gondor."

A general consensus among the lieutenants was reached. Once the camp had woken up, training would begin in earnest, to turn these men of Gondor into soldiers of Gondor, willing and able to retake the lands and liberate their brethren further east. Faramir sent out a small number of scouts into the furthest western reaches of what had been Gondor, trying to gauge the situation of the men there and where liberation would be most successful.

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Posts: 93
Founded: Nov 25, 2019
Corrupt Dictatorship

Postby Laiakia » Wed Apr 07, 2021 11:34 pm

Dol Guldur
South-western Mirkwood

Atop the Hill of Dark Sorcery, the horrid fortress of Dol Guldur sat. Once, it could simply be mistaken for a ruin from a bygone time, but now torches lit rebuilt towers that stretched into the skies, crumbling walls had been repaired by conquered steel and materials, and the unmistakable shrieks of a Fell Beast could be heard. Parties of Orcs and Easterlings roamed the area both in and around the accursed fortress, keeping guard.

Inside the tallest tower in the center of the stronghold, sat the Nazgûl known as Khamûl, the Black Easterling, atop a throne of spikes. He wore spectral armor based upon ancient Easterling armor. His helmet horns protruded into the air as the Ringwraith tilted his head down, staring into the floor and the slightly hole-y carpet that was laid from the grandiose entrance all the way to the throne. The rest of the room was decorated much like any normal throne room, alongside a door to the side leading into a grand balcony.

With the Dark Lord indisposed and missing, there would be no doubt that others would attempt to seize the holdings of Sauron and his loyal servants. The most likely of these, according to Khamûl’s logic, would be the perfidious realm of Lothlorien who continue to resist the rightful rule of the Dark Lord. During the War, there had been several attempts to conquer the Elf realm, but all failed due to Galadriel and her Ring of Power alongside the Elves having local knowledge of hidden routes throughout the woods, ambushing and destroying supply caravans and other important logistics. There would also be the Great Spider Shelob to consider. Her and her brood dwelled deep in the other parts of Mirkwood and while Khamûl did not consider her a legitimate threat to his rule over Dol Guldur and the surrounding territories of the occupied Rhovanion, he would not hesitate to act should she or her brood move against him.

Khamûl rose from his throne, moving over to the door leading to the balcony. Pushing them open, the Ringwraith walked over to the edge of the balcony and watched as orcs and men, alongside the occasional Castellans of Dol Guldur, patrol the grounds of the dark bastion.

’Soon’, the Ringwraith thought. ’Shall the pitiful stragglers of Lothlorien be subjugated.'


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