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A horse and a dozen asses (Three Horses and an Ass TP)

Tags: Menelglir,  Bledrann,  Hafoc

Short Summary: The horses belonging to the Gap encampment attract some attention. Alas, all does not go according to plan
Date (real-life): 2009-10-05
Scene Location: Gap of Rohan
Date (in-game): February 3049
Time of Day: Night
Old South Road - Near Methedras

Passing to the southwest of the mountain peak of Methedras, you feel it is following you as it looms in the distance.

Obvious exits:
SouthEast leads to Old South Road - Dunland and the Gap of Rohan.
NorthWest leads to Old South Road (Methedras) - Dunland <<Redvyrne County>>.

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                      Dunland Time and Weather Forecast
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Real Time is:       Mon Oct 05 15:14:13 2009
IC weather is:      Wind: fresh - Clouds: dense
IC Moon is:         Waxing gibbous
IC time is:         Midnight <about midnight>
IC date is:         Highday, Day 11 of February in the year 3048.

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[Menelglir(#1394)]
Night has fallen on this small camp of 5 men of Gondor and their escort of 20 Rohirs. The group is traveling along the road, consulting at least somewhat the guidance of the old man "Ian," who is the "guest"---heavily guarded guest--of Arathis, ever since Ian rode up to their camp and volunteered to guide them through Dunland. Because they now travel in stealth as much as possible, there are no fires being lit as they make camp. Menelglir, the 16-year-old White Squire of Dol Amroth, is ostensibly watching "Ian," but the youth is shivering, hopping from foot to foot, cloak pulled tightly around himself. A second guard is closer to the old man.

The moon is waxing, but for the most part it is shrouded behind tattered clouds. Every now and then slanting beams break through the rents, illuminating the land with a faint, pale light. An icy wind whips down from the mountains to the north.

Out here on the open plains there is little cover, but the men creeping toward the camp make the best use they may of each tussock of dried grass, each leafless bush ... They are perhaps a dozen in number; four have bows and the rest spears - except, that is, for one. A grey jerkin hides his ringmail, but as he traverses the frozen ground, a sword bumps at his side. Their destination appears to be the place where the horses are picketed, and they are working their way in from the west, partially downwind.

The would-be marauders are still far off when the foremost, that sword-bearer, catches sight of the pacing Gondorians and holds up a hand. A small movement, but one that might be seen, nevertheless, in the instant before the moon fades and both parties are once again left in darkness.

[Engel(#7905)] A low, deep voice from somewhere behind Menelglir murmurs, "Need this?" It's one of the Riders of the Mark, a young man only a few years older than the Gondorian he addresses. The man is holding out a spare cloak, but the offer of such comes with a desire for information. The young Rider wastes no time in pointing out what he's wondering. "Why are so many watching that man?" He points to Ian.

[Menelglir(#1394)]
"Thanks," Menelglir shivers, taking the cloak, but glances to Ian first. "Orders of Sir Arathis, sir. The man..Ian...rode up and offered to guide us through Dunland, and Sir Arathis wants to be certain it is not a trap....though I suppose the man could just leave if he really wanted," he shrugs. Turning, Menelglir puts the cloak around his shoulders and freezes. "What's that?" He points off toward the distance where the sword bearer just moved. "Did you see something?"

Out in the darkness, the hand gesture alone is not enough to communicate intent. Precious moments drag by whilst the swordsman waits for the next of his fellows to come closer so that he can murmur something in the man's ear in the guttural speech of the hills. The order given, the pair ease their way toward the little grouping of guards, likely wondering the same thing as the Rohir. At Menelglir's gesture, both freeze. When the moon slides free of the clouds again, there is naught to be seen save bushes and rocks. Except .. was there really a rock just there, before?

 The rest of the would-be raiders remain where they are: or most of them. Alas for the poor light! The furthest away of the group, who has presumably not seen the signal to halt, continues to crawl hopefully toward the horses.

[Menelglir(#1394)]
Sensing or hearing the approach of something in the grass, the horse at the end of the picket line snorts several times and nervously stamps its feet.

[Engel(#7905)] The young Rider of the Mark looks in the direction where Menelglir is pointing, blue eyes narrowed as he tries to spot anything out of the ordinary. He blinks a few times and shakes his head. "I think my eyes are playing tricks on me in the dark, that's all. All this jumpiness..hard not to imagine things, right?" Still, the young man now watches the bushes and rocks a little harder.

Nervousness is not confined to horses. And Dunlendings are not known for their discipline and sticking to orders. When the horse snorts and stamps, the fellow crawling toward it stops and looks round for his fellows. He sees ... nothing. And then his nerve breaks. Breathing heavily, he nocks an arrow and then looses it in the direction of those guarding the pickets. The thrum of the bowstring is almost startlingly loud.

[Menelglir(#1394)]
"It's not," Menelglir says, pulling on the cloak the rest of the way. No sooner has he done that, though, than he is brushing it off his shoulders and drawing his sword at the sound of the shout from the horse guard, the arrow missing that Rohir by inches. "Attack! To arms!" the horse guard shouts. Menelglir starts to run forward then hesitates, looking back toward the other man guarding Ian.

[Engel(#7905)] At the sound of the call to arms, the youngest Rider of the Mark unsheaths his sword. "Stay with him, would you?" is asked of the other man who's watching over Ian. That's all he has time for before he runs forward to join his kinsmen.

From the direction of the 'rock' comes a bitten-off curse as the shout is heard. But arrows, once sent, cannot be recalled. The swordsman, haughty features set in a scowl that is almost wolf-snarl, pulls his sword from its sheath and begins to run toward the horses himself, on a loping course that will intersect with Menelglir's unless the moon should break free of the clouds again to show them their situation.

Already the others of the Dunlending would-be raiders are rushing forward, taking the arrow as a signal to charge. Perhaps they'll get lucky and seize a horse this time - or, given their tactics, perhaps not. The lone archer who'd been watching 'Ian' alongside his leader hesitates, and remains where he is. His own arrow is nocked and ready, waiting only the light to show him his target ...

[Menelglir(#1394)]
Menelglir has hesitated but a second, but seeing the one Rider still staying near Ian, he now signals to a second to stand guard on the man. "Two guards!" he yells to the two Rohirs--"Lord Arathis ordered two guards on him!" That said, he does not run forward but stays only a few paces from Ian and his guards, sword drawn, letting the Rohirrim handle the attack on their horses.

[Engel(#7905)] There's no time to look unsure: the youngest Rider of the Mark, Hafoc, rushes forward with his sword ready, meeting one of the Dunlending raiders with a clash of blades. The fight must not be too hard for him: he manages a glance back over his shoulder toward the watched man, Ian. Did he arrange all this? He presses the raider back.

At that yell, uncannily close, the swordsman checks his pace, whirling with blade extended. He half-crouches, perhaps waiting for the potential opponent to make the first move. But then a shaft of moonlight splits the clouds. Menelglir will see a face he has seen before: haughty, chiselled features and dark hair that spills from beneath a carefully dulled helm. The swordsman, Bledrann, waits no longer. Leaping forward to cover the remaining distance, he lunges with the bright blade toward the young Gondorian's chest.

The Rohirrim and those others guarding the horses will see a disorganized knot of men, their tactics seeming to involve much yelling and wild swinging. In the sudden burst of moonlight, they make fine targets. Especially the one trying to hack at a picket-rope. The fellow Hafoc faces has a spear, and as Hafoc looks away he grunts and mutters something filthy-sounding in Dunael, followed by a terse Common, "You eyes here." He heaves hard with the spear-haft, pushing the blade away, then jerks the point toward the Rohir's shoulder to emphasize his point.

And the lone archer who watches 'Ian'? His arrow flies smoothly toward one of Ian's guards, before he throws himself flat on the ground.

[Menelglir(#1394)]
The first of Ian's guards falls face forward on the ground as an arrow pierces his armor. There's noise and a clashing of steel, but it's dark and the fate of the second guard and of Ian will not be known for the moment.

Menelglir meets steel with steel, the youth outpowered by Beldrann so that he only manages to push the man's blade away, but also stumbles backwards, tripping and falling in the darkness. He is saved, perhaps, by falling into tall grasses that hide his form, at least momentarily.

As the shaft of moonlight dims, Bledrann thrusts forward with his blade toward the place where he fancies Menelglir's heart to be - but his blade meets empty air. He wastes little time in twisting the sword round for a backswing.

It is then that the scream comes. Long, drawn-out, bubbling - clearly it denotes a man wounded unto death. The answer to which race of man comes in a final, wheezing cry. "Kiern-" The man who had hacked at one of the picket ropes has fallen with a spear through his lung.

Bledrann's lips purse and the man gives a sudden piercing whistle, even though the sound gives his position away.

[Menelglir(#1394)]
THe hesitation gives Menelglir, who has fallen backwards into tall grasses in the dark, a moment to scramble up and onto his feet again. The youth steps forward, emerges from the darkness into a little light now peeking from the clouds, his blade shimmering as he swings a two-handed blow across toward Bledrann's middle.

Perhaps the whistle was a signal for retreat, for the hopeful horse-thieves break off their attack and try to pull back. Two archers provide what covering fire they may in the brief flicker of moonlight; a third looses no longer, for a retaliatory arrow has stilled his fingers. The fourth must still lie hid somewhere near Bledrann, although no arrow reveals his position as yet.

The play of light across Menelglir's blade is enough warning for Bledrann to draw back. Only the tip of the blade reaches its target, ripping cloth and tangling in the ringmail beneath. If there is a wound, it cannot be deep. In the faint light, Menelglir will see that man's features fixed in an eager, anticipatory smile. "Is that the best you can do? Kiern hates a weakling," he taunts, his own blade flicking down toward the Gondorian's knee as he darts to the side, out of reach.

Amidst the cries and ring of steel, the soft thud of hooves might not be instantly discernable.

[Menelglir(#1394)]
Speed and youth are on Menelglir's side, though experience is not: He brings his blade down too late to stop the Dunlander's return stroke, and is forced to hop backwards and out of reach of the man's blade. "You're slow old man," he sneers in response. "And your weaknesses are showing," he says, lunging forward with quick jab of his blade to try to at least force the man backwards.

Bledrann sidesteps, bringing his own blade up to parry the blow, then twisting it round to try to force the young Gondorian's wrist groundward. The wind is getting up, and it is icy. The light is coming and going, so that one moment the tableau of stern guards and fleeing foe - well, those that can still flee - is eerily clear, the next vanished in the black. The hoofbeats are nearer now, and with them a horse's whinny.

It is in one of those moments of clarity that the fourth archer, hitherto unseen, looses a single arrow toward the one that his captain is now battling. A single shaft only, and he does not wait to see where it falls, instead melting back into the darkness and away.

[Menelglir(#1394)]
His sword arm forced down, Menelglir tries to twist out of the way. The arrow that was fired at him thus misses, skiiming across his leg, ripping the leather there and drawing a thin line of blood but not sticking or wounding deeply. He gives a shout of pain, stumbling sideways, but his sword comes up defensively.

A moment's distraction only, but it is all that Bledrann needs. He does not press his advantage, but instead uses the time to pull away from the Gondorian, his long legs taking him back in swift strides. Now it is that the other purpose of the whistle becomes clear. The grey mare is skittish, and dances nervously at the edge of the encampment, but Bledrann's reaching hand finds her bridle and an instant later he has swung himself up into the saddle. The move has cost him precious time - time enough for him to receive a parting gift from Gondor or Rohan? - but he wastes no more. Bent low over the horse's neck, he urges her away. Perhaps he believes that the Rohirric archers will not risk injuring a mount.

[Menelglir(#1394)]
Mount or not, the Rohirric arches fire arrows at the departing man and his comrades, while Menelglir spins around to look back toward Ian, whom he was guarding. There's one Rohir guard lying with an arrow in him and the second guard cannot be found in the darkness. ...and neither can Ian.

Two Dunlending corpses bear witness to the identity of the attackers: one with a spear through him, the other's head crushed by a flailing hoof. Rohirric horses, it appears, do not take kindly to strangers. On closer examination, one body will bear a wooden medallion in the shape of a wolf; the other wears a green cloak. When men reckon up the tally of blows struck, they will know for sure that others did not escape unscathed.

The grey mare needs no urging to speed. She is fortunate; no arrow pierces her smooth coat. Her rider, perhaps less so, for he jerks as though at least one feathered shaft has struck him in the back. Still, he does not fall.

One other testament to struggle remains. When Menelglir comes to clean his blade, he will find that there is blood at its tip - a present from Dunland.



Date added: 2009-10-06 16:25:08    Hits: 114
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